In my house there are holes in the walls from our father’s fist. He does it when he drinks. This is no way to live our mother says, and she pulls at her new short hair.
Sometimes the music outside stays on all night and me and my sisters dance, while our father punches holes in the walls, and mother pulls her hair. The music we like best thumps in our chests. It’s not our house stupid bitch. The music makes us dance. And the song says bad words but we sing it anyway. And when we get thirsty and there’s no milk, we can’t drink the water cause it’ll make you sick, so we drink Father’s beer and get dizzy and smile. Our socks get dirty dancing on the floor. We don’t wear shoes cause we can’t make noise. We’re asleep you see. Shhhhh.
When father hits the wall, you can hear the mice moving fast and feel the music in your chest, and mother runs out the door. The neighbor man, who scares Father, will come over and talk to him real slow, cause, you know, thin walls. And the neighbor man says keep it down. But the music is still loud and mother’s not home and me and my sisters wish we had milk cause Father’s beer makes us sleepy.
Father sits in his chair and watches the television, he watches the men talking to him. It’s a disgrace he says to the men on the television. The men on the television blink a lot my sister says cause they can’t tell the truth. And the music is still loud and we’re getting sleepy. My little sister Nola is asleep in the corner and we pick her up and put her in her crib. We do it slow cause we’re dizzy from Father’s beer. Father gets out of the chair and turns off the television.
My sisters and me scurry back to bed and Nola’s asleep in her crib. We hear his feet. When he comes in the room he’s on tippy-toes, and I hear him say coo-coo to Nola and blow the baby a kiss. And then he bends over my sisters and calls them his little princesses each. And promises them milk in the morning and yellow eggs to eat. Then he comes to my bed, it is in the closet, and says, little man, I wish I had more. He thinks I’m asleep and his face is scratchy by his chin. And he pecks my cheek and tucks me in.
Then Father goes to bed and he is alone because mother is still out and we each fall asleep cause we’re dizzy and tired. Then tomorrow is today. And we come downstairs and Father is alone, mother didn’t come home and Father is trying to explain on the phone. Let me explain. Then Father walks out the door and Nola is crying and we want milk and yellow eggs.
My sister Ginny says, don’t worry and takes out her crayons. She takes a red one and starts to draw flowers. She draws red flowers around the holes that Father’s fists made in our walls. I get to make the green grass and flower stems. Angie makes a sun with a happy face, and we have fun again. And Ginny makes fun of Father by saying, It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault. And sticks out her tongue.
When mother shows up it is hot in the sun. She has juice boxes in her pockets, animal crackers and chips. She picks up little Nola and comes back for me. Ginny and Angie run with us across the big street. Mother puts us into Aunt Marie’s little car, and then Mother says to sit on the floor. And when she leaves our house she doesn’t close the door. And the car radio is on loud, and the songs thump in our chests.
We sing with the songs that thump in our chests.
James Kidd was a work boot wearing, sawdust making carpenter for years and he now writes freelance articles for a variety of home improvement magazines. His upcoming book, 75 Tools Every Man Needs And How To Use Them, a Popular Mechanics title, is due out in early June.