She truly loved the animals she resembled, tearing out magazines pages that had pictures of horses, talking about them, pretending she was riding when she sat straddling swings in the park.
“If I had a horse I could ride away. I could ride away anytime I wanted” she would say to her brother Jack.
“When you are dreaming up horses, get one for me too” Jack would reply “and I’ll ride away with you.”
Jack had already seen too many things that a boy of eleven should never see, the ripping of clothes, welts rising on his mother’s arms and legs and bruises on his own skin when he stood in her place and took blows that were intended for her. An icy hardness had developed deep inside and a fierce protectiveness. He would lie in bed at night and promise that he wouldn’t let anyone get hurt. Each time he failed to keep that promise he heaped the blame upon himself.
“It’s your fault” repeated voices in his head. “You’re just not good enough to stop this.” He didn’t know how to shut out the voices, the thoughts, the blame.
One night, when all was silent and he couldn’t sleep, he wandered out into the living room. Larry was sleeping or passed out on the sofa and Jack found a couple of beer cans that were still half full. He took them back to his bedroom quickly. He had tasted beer before and did not at all like the flavour. Holding his nose, he drank quickly, from one can and then the next. He started giggling almost too loudly when he heard himself burp. The taste lingered, so he decided to go back to the kitchen for a pop to wash it away. There was a strange, unstable feeling beneath his feet, and he fell back on his bed. In the spinning, he found a softness, a blur, as the voices grew faint. He struggled to remain awake, enjoying the unusual sense of peace, but sleep overtook him. He had found his horse, his getaway.
Stop by Emily's In the Hush of the Moon for more words imperfect.