I can tell how the evening will go by the type of container my mom uses for her wine. If she pretends she’s drinking tea from her antique English teacups, or if she holds a small glass of “soda,” it means that dad is coming home. A red plastic cup means she doesn’t care whether dad is coming home, or that he’s away on a trip, and it’s never a good sign.
So, when I catch sight of the red plastic cup in her hand, I slip into the powder room to hide. “Please don’t come in, please don’t come in,” I chant to myself. As I close the door, she pushes it open. I try to smile. We stand there together, face to face in the dim light.
Her eyes are wild, and I try not to shudder. When she steps toward me, I notice what’s in her other hand – kitchen shears. I fight the urge to run. Instead, I focus on the ever-present smear of her lipstick.
She lurches forward. I shut my eyes tight and hold my breath; her breath stinks of wine. I plant my feet to brace myself.
One too many snips later, she stumbles. She spills her drink all over my white school shirt. I glance down; the wine is blending with the blood dripping from my ear. I grind my teeth and will myself not to cry. Crying will just make things worse. I stare past her at the wallpaper and tilt my head up just enough to suggest that everything’s fine.
Elizabeth Lorayne is a printmaker, artist, and an award-winning and critically acclaimed author. Her work has appeared in The Haiku Foundation Blog, Boston Literary Magazine, Cathexis Northwest Press, and 50-Word Stories. She lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts with her husband and daughter.