In between the branches of the trees, a faint glimmer of light shone through. The wind brushed past my face, while the leaves rustled thoughtlessly around the muddy brown park bench. The gravel on the ground was cracked and weathered, far past its prime. The trees were like skyscrapers, reaching further and further into the world above as time went on. Much of the animals which once lived around here had been vanquished as more and more of the park was urbanised for a brave, new world. Only a few remnants remained of the world of yesterday.
Now that the day was over, night was left to take control. As darkness started to shroud my surroundings, I gripped onto my cotton blanket as tightly as I could, the only shred of my past life. Soon enough, I fell into what some may consider as dreams, but others would consider as nightmares.
I creaked open the mahogany slanted door, trying to be as quiet as I possibly could. Swiftly, I closed the door behind me and began my ascent up the old and rickety stairs. Suddenly, the room came to life. I turned around and my worst fear came to light.
“What the hell are you doing here this late?!’’ yelled my father with all the rage that he could muster up despite his drunken state. “I have been sitting her all night, worried sick about where you’ve been”.
“You’re worried sick. The only reason you care about me is that I’m the only thing you have left in your life, ever since mum left!’’ I shouted back.
My father was clearly taken aback, his face full of shame and regret, but also a fiery rage as his hands slowly turned into mighty fists. Mum had grown tired of my dad and his slack attitude, so she left him. I wished I could’ve gone with her but there was no way she could’ve taken me with her without my father finding her, so she unfortunately had to leave me behind. I hated her for that at first, but I eventually realised that she did what she had to.
While my father was quite depressed, I didn’t care one bit about what he felt. I hated him with a passion. Seeing him ashamed of himself, brought me a pleasure like nothing else.
Every night, I can remember as though it was yesterday, the feeling of my father beating me down. The scars on my back are still as alive and red like they were of yesteryear. Whenever I argued back at him or tried opposing his dominance, he would simply grab his belt and strike me, while I lay there completely powerless. There was no mummy I could cry to and hold on to when things got hard. At that time, I was alone in the world and so was my father, but he never cared for me one bit, for the hurt that I felt when mum left. The only thing that mattered to my father was escaping his morbid reality known as life, through any forms of alcohol or drugs he could get his hands on. He was consumed by his anger and his depression, but unlike him, I was never tempted to take it out on anyone other than myself. Until that night….
The door broke open, the metal hinges clanging apart the wall like they did most nights.
“You awake, child!” bellowed my father. He took great pleasure in asserting his superiority over me.
I remained quiet as a mouse, holding my breath in and squeezing my eyes shut. Soon enough, my father left and went away. But while my father left with the façade that I was fast asleep, that was all a disguise for the plan I was about to enact. A plan that would allow me to escape and be happy for once in my miserable existence. Calmly, I made my way out of bed and sneaked into the dingy hallway, which contained only one flickering little light in the middle, while the sides of the hallway were shrouded in darkness. My father slept in the room closest to the toilet. He had always been plagued with health issues ever since he became addicted to alcohol and drugs. But the things which he longed for most, would soon be his undoing.
The floorboards creaked under the might of my footsteps. The upper floor was quite unstable, so I had to place my hands on either side of the corridor to maintain balance. As I moved closer and closer to my father, his scent grew more ghastly and unbearable. A tense and daunting feeling started to befall me. Slowly, I turned the knob of the door precisely and with care and entered the room.
My father had gone to bed, snoring like an elephant. The room was dirty and old. The wallpapers were peeling off, revealing an ugly brick underside. On the beige, wooden side-table next to his bed, lay some pills and a day-old bottle of beer. I was about to reach for the side-table but then I completely froze. For that single moment which felt like an eternity, I stopped and thought about what was about to transpire. The dark path which I was about to follow, the never-ending cycle of violence and hurt. If I went ahead with my plan, I would fall down a rabbit hole so deep that I would never be able to recover. I would become the man that my father was. I didn’t want that life. I wouldn’t let my father define the person I was going to be. I was going to be the caring and loving person my mother always wanted me to be. I was going to be my own man.
That night, I packed a bag with food, water and the cotton blanket my mother gave me when I was born. I was about to leave for the world, both a wonderer and a seeker. For a moment, I wondered whether this was really the best idea. Where would I live? How would I survive? But much like my mother once did, I knew that this was what I had to do. Over the past few months, I’ve lived on the road, a man without a home. I gathered food wherever I could, slept on any ground that I could find. I had practically nothing, but I was happy. Now that I was free, I felt alive for the first time in so long. Without the worry of my father anymore, I was now going to find my mother, so that I could become the person she always wanted me to be. It may take months, even years, but I will do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes….
The short story, “Home”, which I have written describes both home in the physical and the metaphorical sense. There is the home which the main character loathes, the home where he is abused, depressed and consumed by hurt. His main arc across the story chronologically is finding what it means to be truly home and that is represented in a literal sense by his mother, though that isn’t the main home which he is aiming for. The ‘home’ he is seeking is one where he is his own man, one who is caring and loving. The story is told in a non-linear style, with the story flashing back and forth from a past and present narrative. I chose this style because it allowed for more context and background to be presented regarding the main character and his life. It also helps add depth to the main character by giving an insight into his thoughts and emotions which helps the reader gain a better understanding of the character and his motivations.
The father serves as an antagonist in this story, but even the father, an abusive alcoholic, is consumed by depression and hurt, much like the main character. These similarities between the main character and his father, are what help the main character make his ultimate decision to leave his father alone so that he will not go down the dark path which his father has found himself on. A major theme of the story is that it is your actions which truly define who you are and by leaving his father alone, the main character showcases that he has the capacity to be compassionate, despite how awful his father may have been to him. Some inspirations which I had for this short story were modern contemporary stories involving domestic violence and the hardships of life such as the film ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’. Overall, I wrote the short story “Home”, to tackle major issues such as depression and domestic violence in society, and how people can overcome them and become better individuals. It will not always be an easy journey to reach ‘home’, but it will ultimately reward you and make you the defining person that you’ve always aspired to be.