Reading Time: 2 minutes

‘Leave it. Let it be.’

She didn’t look at me, but her words fell to the floor in front of me. I wanted to touch them, hold them, make them feel better. She was my mammy. I couldn’t let her suffer alone. Every day it was the same. My father would come home in the evening and shout at her for no reason. But he always had a reason.

The food is cold.

You left a window open.

My shirts don’t smell fresh.

The sky isn’t blue enough.

Damn birds are chirping too loud.

It would always begin with a reason. His voice would rise steadily, then when he tired of shouting, he would use his hands. They were big and rough. One slap or punch could knock out a person’s senses. But my mother had a capacity for his beatings.

She would shield herself with her arms and hands, but they were too thin and small. It must have hurt more than she showed. There was nothing brave in holding in her screams. She should have cried and cursed, but she took it all in silence.

When it would end, my father would throw something, anything. It would smash and scatter across the floor and he would grunt and laugh.

Clean this up!

Show over, great performance, time for bed.

It had been a pickle jar this time. The oil and bits of mango lay defenseless on the floor. I was trying to clean up the mess, wipe away the shame that I felt.

‘Just leave it alone!’

She was biting back her tears, her angry voice eased out the pain.

‘Please go away.’

I couldn’t refuse her exhausted request. She didn’t have to say it again. There was too much brokenness for me to fix. I wandered back to my books. They said an education was the remedy for every difficulty.

I would study hard. It was more for her than for me.

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40 Comments on “He Always Had A Reason – Flash Fiction Story

  1. This is a harrowing tale and one that resonates with me on a personal level. No child should ever have to watch his or her mother go through something like this. No child should ever have to rise to the level of becoming his mother’s protector at a young age. And no mother/wife should ever have to suffer this fate. All those scars last a lifetime. This story is painful to read, but its truth is undeniable, and even at this late date it’s important to raise awareness of this sort of thing. This is a brutal story told with skill and care. Your talent knows no bounds, Terveen. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Mike. I’m sorry that you’ve had to endure such a situation. Children should never be exposed to violence and abuse. Scars never fade, you are right. Awareness and support is so important. Physical and mental abuse can destroy a person, the changes are often permanent. Thank you for appreciating the story. Means a lot. 🙂

  2. A heartbreaking story. I was engrossed throughout, from the first word to the last word. I couldn’t help but contemplate the sad reality of domestic violence you framed so beautifully.

  3. This one sits in the heart, and is a grave reality for many survivors of intimate partner violence. I appreciate how you’ve expanded this tale to include the child’s perspective, showcasing how shame infects a household when there is violence being perpetrated. I also enjoyed the hope you created within the boy, showing the resiliency of the human sprint. Beautiful write, Terveen. ☺️

    • Thank you so much, Jeff. It’s a tough state to be in and often despair is all that one can see. When children are involved, it can go either way. Either the fight to survive and move on or simply learn and repeat the violent mistakes. Hope should always persist. You always say it so wisely and wonderfully. 🙂

  4. The sad part is that people (men as well as women) don’t think they’re with an abusive domestic partner because they adapt the lifestyle of doing everything to prevent their partner from getting angry, not realizing that in itself is abuse.

    Every act of violence is a choice, and the victim of abuse is not responsible for the abuser’s choice of actions. You also can’t help or change an abusive person. No good person would ever hurt you. And you definitely deserve better treatment.

    Hopefully the wife will muster the courage to take her child and leave or the boy will help his mammy escape the dangerous situation before it’s too late.

    Nicely done, Terveen.

    • Thanks so much, Rhyan. Only you could have said this so wisely and gracefully. It’s not OKAY to abuse or think that one deserves the abuse. I hope the mother and son find a way out of the darkness. There’s much comfort in your words. 🙂

  5. Such a telling last line. Implicit in it, a child’s silent promise to take care of his mother. Well done, Terveen. Your stories always manage to hit the sorest spots.

    • Thank you so much, Diti. A child’s eyes see so much, but it’s the tender heart that suffers unnoticed. I appreciate your kind words. 🙂

  6. ‘There was too much brokenness for me to fix’ – wow. What a tough realization from the child. Difficult to read the story of domestic violence from the point of view of the ‘bystander’ child. There was always a reason… You pack a lot into very few words, Terveen.

    • Thank you so much, Britta. Children are like sponges that soak up so much. It must be so devastating to watch a parent being abused. Can twist the mind the right or wrong way. Life carries on… 🙂

  7. That’s such a touching, haunting, and tormented story. Family is a strange thing. When a person is in it, one feels that one can’t escape. A good family is a wonderful thing, but a bad family is soul crushing. Kids from a bad family need to work very hard to recover emotionally and psychologically from a bad family. A lot never recover and go through another bad cycle just like their parents.

    • That’s so true, Haoyan. History often repeats itself. And children are often sucked to the wrong side. It’s horrible. And the feeling of being stuck is the worst. I hope that many can recover and move on. Thank you. You are very brave. 🙂

      • I’ve seen many examples of it, myself included. It is always a struggle. A child from a bad family situation has to learn an entire new set of skills to socialize normally with others and it takes a lot to recover. Many won’t recover or recover completely.

  8. So much emotion packed into so few words. A powerful piece of writing and a difficult subject handled with care.

  9. For a child to grow up with such a burden is absolutely unfair! There is sadness in this little tale, but it ends on an innocent, wistful note, and that is grand! You are the queen of flash fiction, Terveen!👏👏

    • Thanks so much, Aaysid. Having to derive one’s own understanding of pain at a young age is definitely unfair. It is damaging in many ways.
      PS – Adjusting my crown while I type this. haha. Thanks again. 🙂

  10. What a traumatic experience for a child to witness such violence. The child will excel in what they do academically. However if Inner vows were made, their life will be open to destruction. A sad and realistic story.

    • That is so true, Cassa. Sometimes children carry the burden of saving their parents. That’s a terrible thing when it consumes their innocence and makes them vulnerable. Thank you for your lovely words. 🙂

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