The End of the Night

literary form Paragraphs
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My bruises are purple like Mama’s teeth. Mama’s bruises are brown like Papa’s whiskey. Papa’s scars are old like Grampa’s belt.

 

My sister’s flesh is split at her lip. Mama won’t take her in public. Mama’s wine is her favorite child. She coddles it and kisses at it while Papa watches boxing and screams at the television. Papa’s whiskey makes his eyes dark. Those are Papa’s bruises.

My bruises are yellow when I wake up. When Mama wakes up her thighs and neck are bruised. Her bruises are rough like Papa’s hands. Papa’s vomiting is loud like Mama screaming at my sister. Mama screams at the wall because her screaming won’t heal my sister’s lip.

My toes are white like Mama’s teeth. Mama feigns a smile as she bathes me. My sister’s crying stops as Papa slams the front door.

School is quiet like nothing else. My friends’ parents wear nice clothes. Teacher asks me where I got my bruises. I say they are yellow and almost gone. Teacher’s eyes are sad like Mama’s.

Mama’s bruises are dirty like Papa’s shoes. Papa’s pay money is coppery like his whiskey. Mama’s teeth are purple again. Papa’s breathing is labored as he sleeps in his chair. Smoke spills out past Mama’s lips and then her mouth is empty like Papa’s bottle.

Papa’s work is hard. Mama say her work is harder. Mama has no job. In our kitchen corks are scattered on the counter. They are bruised and red on one side like Mama’s face. Mama hides her teeth behind swollen lips. She was young and pretty when she met Papa. I learned in school that wine can age.

A knock on our door is loud like Mama and Papa’s bedroom at night. The lady outside is dark like Papa’s eyes. Her teeth are whiter than my toes.

Our suitcases are shabby like Papa’s shoes. Papa’s hands are stuck to his side as he talks to the lady. Normally they are flying and heaving. The storm isn’t loud enough to cover Mama’s screaming. Papa never screams.

The dark lady’s car smells like it is new. My sister’s eyes well up as she finds that her doll is gone. I can get it back, I say. The dark lady say she is coming with me.

The grass is wet like the hair in my face. It squeals under my shoes like Mama does at night. The kitchen window is clear like Mama’s glass after her wine is gone. She stands like the boxers Papa yells at. Papa lumbers in like he took a hook to the chin. Mama’s jaw cracks like the seal on Papa’s flask. Mama’s lip looks like my sister’s. Her eyes are sharp and silvery like the knife in her hand.

Mama’s bruises are blue like Papa’s veins. Papa’s cheeks are scarred like Grampa’s hands. My feet sink in the grass while Mama’s arm rises.

Papa’s shirt is stained red like Mama’s wine. He topples like a bottle at the end of the night.

The car is uncomfortable like bruises when they itch. My sister’s tears shine like the lights that carry Mama away. Mama’s teeth are purple and her fingers are red.

My bruises fade like Mama’s pain. Papa’s scars go with him to the grave.

The Author

Andy Valentine is a half-English, half-Scottish writer of gritty realism. He has a sense of humor that would make your mother frown.

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