By William Meikle
And don’t come out until I say so.
The cold emotionless voice spoke through the thin wood of the door which rattled on its hinges as it slammed. Billy Morrison was left in the cold and the dark and the quiet. Again.
He listened as his father stomped back downstairs, the steps vibrating through the floors, sending shock waves through Billy’s buttocks and thighs as he began to push himself off the floor.
I’ll bet he’s going to sit in front of the telly all night, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. That’s all he’s good for. I hate him.
He immediately covered his mouth with both hands. Even though it was the truth, he had no wish to be overheard. He’d made that mistake before, and that time he’d ended up having to be kept out of school for a week – “Suffering from a touch of flu” his mother, who had still been around at the time, had said. It was a funny sort of flu, which gave you black and blue bruises all over your body and made you pee blood for days afterwards.
He rubbed his upper arm, inspecting the large white finger imprints which blossomed there, now slowly filling up red. Using only his fingertips he pushed at the inflamed area, lightly, until the pain came. This time everything was okay. There was only a dull ache, not the bright pain of a broken bone.
Billy had just passed his ninth birthday and already had too much experience with hospitals and plaster casts. He had lost count of the number of times he had ‘fallen down stairs’ or ‘walked into doors’, or ‘slipped in the bath’. When the doctors, and then the social workers, and then the police had asked him about his accidents, he had gone along with his parents’ story. His friend Tommy had told him that you don’t get to heaven if you tell tales, and Billy would have dearly loved to go to heaven. ***Read on!***