Way Past Bedtime, by Zoë Siobhan Howarth-Lowe

The shouting has brought me
without thought, to the foot of the stairs.
Eyes too heavy with sleep –
and head still full of dreams.
I do not recognise the adult voice
harsh with tobacco and vodka,
that echoes across the hall. The shouts
fill the space around me. It is one that I
somehow don’t quite belong in…

I pause by the door-handle –
staring at the cold brass. Listening
with a strange fascination to words
I cannot understand…

The door opens and my mother stumbles out
into me – her face is wet. What…?
The words barely leave her lips before
she is pulled back inside. A hand clamps
around my bare arm and I’m dragged
unresisting into the light…

Purple livid pain cracks on bare skin –
you little… how dare you… spying…
My Mother’s latest boyfriend stands there. Glaring.
His words fade as my head hits the floor –
hard – he threatens to crush – to drop –
to punish – and I cower, ashamed.
Beneath the shadow of the lifted chair.

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