I stood there, eyes wide, body shaking, mind exploding. They were at war again. My brothers and I watched as our parents circled and cursed at each other, each threat a little louder until their words turned into noise. I watched their faces curl and contort. They kept circling, like boxers in a ring. I imagined an announcer commentating in the background, excitedly recounting the growls and flailing arms of these two mismatched opponents.
I could see the monster that replaced my Mom eying the phone as she inched closer. She lunged and groped for its handle, spitting out threats of domestic violence and the police hauling his ass off to jail. My Dad clawed at the phone, and as they struggled the cable ripped out of the wall. Then the monster turned to a spectator for help. Her eyes flashed from fiery venom to those of a helpless woman. She knew her audience well. She didn’t even look at us—she didn’t have to. She simply called on my brother. “Andrew, bring me a gun.” She requested coolly. I stood paralyzed, my eyes darting back and forth at a nauseating pace. Is he going to do it? Is he actually going to give her a gun? “Now!” she snarled, reverting back into the monster.
I started envisioning the fiery cracks, the overpowering smell of sulfur burning with every inhale. Involuntary puke and piss and all the sticky, sticky blood sure to paint the walls as each bullet struck our soft skin. I could see the demonic gnarl on my Mother’s face as she aimed the gun at my Father, watching as he smirked and rolled his eyes, teasing his demon-wife—surely she wouldn’t dare. His eyes only got halfway around before jerking forward again, filled with shock as his hands grasped the gaping hole in his stomach. I watched him choke and gag, bloody spittle flinging from his lips. She slowly turned the rifle toward us and smiled a smile we’d only dreamed about—so we’d know she loved us. I saw my brothers’ bodies recoiling across the room, riddled with their mothers’ distorted love. Lain out on the kitchen floor—the same floor I fell asleep on waiting for my baby sister to be born. I saw the end so clearly. My own body shaking and sputtering, staring at my Mother as her eyes began to un-glaze. She turned the rifle on herself, and I watched slabs of her brain splatter across the only remaining white wall.
I sensed movement at my side and snapped back to the present to watch Andrew slowly moving toward the bedroom. He emerged with the rifle, and the images of all our bloody bodies floated back into view. He started toward us uncertain, eyes darting between our parents as they lobbied for his allegiance. Dad snatched it away from him and unloaded the shells. They fell to the floor in slow motion, just like I’d imagined our bodies might.