The unexpected blow knocked me to the ground on my back and I landed on the hay. Before I could get up, I had him on top of me, panting and drenching me with his repulsive alcoholic breath. I tried to scream but I barely managed to sob.
“Stay still, precious,” he ordered as he rummaged through his pants, his eyes feverish. Thanks to his drunkenness, I managed to slip away while he imprisoned shreds of my clothes between his vicious claws.
I ran like hell out of the barn, struggling to advance through the snowy field. The shadowy forest was feasibly close, but it would be useless anyway, I could never escape from him.
I could picture my mother in the kitchen, leaning out the window overlooking the snowy yard, finishing cooking dinner, wondering what’s taking her daughter and her husband so long in the barn.
I looked back and saw my stepfather approaching relentlessly, like a bulldog that had tasted the blood of its prey. I started to run again and tripped over an abandoned tool duffle bag. In an instant, he was on top of me again.
I struggled desperately and reached into the bag until my cold fingers suddenly found a redeeming instrument. Making a considerable effort, I stood up and I plunged it into his belly as deeply as I could, until I felt a warm and viscous tide flowing uncontrollably. I withdrew my hand and looked at the blood-soaked sheep shears, still imprisoned between my clenched fingers.
I was paralyzed for a moment, waiting for his next move. He fell heavily, collapsing like a hulking beast whose legs had been cut off with a scythe.
I threw the shears away, which disappeared in a ditch full of oily water. I wiped the blood on my torn skirt. I looked at the old man without regret and with a deep sense of disgust. He looked at me from the ground with his glassy eyes injected with fear and tried to spit out some words that got stuck on his dirty lips. He gasped for a few moments and let out a final agonized groan. His eyes reflected the image of the sun setting over the forest like a ball of fire. I didn’t bother closing his eyelids.
I picked up my shoes, arranged my clothes, and returned to the house, shivering from the cold and the excitement.
“It’s done already; it’s never going to happen again,” I told my mother, who hugged me sobbing. We stayed like that for an eternity, nourishing ourselves with our silence.
I sat down at the table, as night fell on our lives like the final curtain.
I contemplated the worn figure of my mother and suddenly I knew myself as a grown-up woman. She smiled and poured me a bowl of warm, thick mutton broth. I thanked her by placing my vengeful hand on her skinny one, fragile as a night moth.
As I gulped down the greasy soup, I thought of the corpse lying on the snow, slowly cooling and blending with the frozen land, under the watchful eye of the hungry wolves.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Mom!” I said with a faint voice. Then, I smiled and started to cry tears of joy.
Marcelo Medone (1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a fiction writer, poet, essayist, playwright and screenwriter. His works received numerous awards and were published in multiple languages in more than 50 countries. He was awarded the First Prize in the 2021 international contest by the American Academy of the Spanish Language with his short story “La súbita impuntualidad del hombre del saco a rayas llamado Waldemar” (“The Sudden Unpunctuality of the Man in the Striped Jacket Named Waldemar”). His flash fiction story “Last Train to Nowhere Town” was nominated for the 2021 Pushcart Prize. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay.