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The door was locked tight. It wasn’t moving anytime soon without a key or a good kick. Towels and even toilet paper were stuffed in the bottom gap. The Parents were thoughtful enough to include a separate bathroom for me, The Child. Nevertheless, the stomach-churning stench of meat slipped through the cracks and assaulted The Child’s nostrils. My nostrils.

Everyday. Day in, day out. A daily occurrence.

It began manageable enough. Just around six o’clock, what would be dinner time for some. There used to be some consistency; not to mention a friendly reminder: The Father, roaring back to his abode in his shit-box. He always came back with both that stench and that promise.

“I’ll get you guys out of here. The company’s risen out of the dust like the daily bread, I tell ya. I’m gonna hit it big tomorrow, I swear!”

His job was the reason he lived. The Family was merely the backdrop. He lived to see another day where he could hang up his old meat hook in satisfaction of what he did, making a meal out of a living, breathing thing. Neither of us fancied the thought of Our Rock being a butcher, but it sufficed. It kept us from licking dust off the old dirt road.

That ended soon enough when the economy collapsed. Coincidentally, so did his master-company. Our income capsized and a deadline was placed on all the memories to be made.

I liked to think the meat hook was representative of his growing pride and anger. A snake whose lair was a small, wooden box shoved haphazardly into the top shelf of the walk-in closet. The stench was the venom that seethed from its mouth. It was evident it had already poisoned The Father. Now, it was choking the weeds we had for a garden. And, of course, it was ruining the sweet summer breeze.

The breaking point was approaching.

This all happened a few days ago. Now I was holed up in my bedroom, my nostrils being raped by the repugnant waft drifting from the living room. There was no schedule anymore, nor any friendly reminder. Nothing was friendly about this harbinger, and nothing good could arise from such a foul odor. Somehow I know.

I didn’t bother attending school in fear of the eventual withdrawal of fresh air I’d receive after returning home. Maybe it’d be fatal. Maybe my lungs would just reject my body’s atmosphere. Who knows? Maybe the cursed wind had made its way all the way to the school-grounds already. It was a plague; an epidemic whose origins were as esoteric as its reason to exist. But it was here, and it was now.

I wouldn’t dare imagine what The Mother was experiencing so close to the epicenter. Was she fixing dinner? There better not be any meat. Vegetarian or otherwise, I would have no part in it. Step out and I’ll suffocate, choking on an undercooked asparagus.

Instead, I’ll opt to stay here in my rightful spot. To stay here and lament on both the past’s forgotten memories and the future’s lost memories. I rubbed the glaring deadline on my forehead, well aware of my new fate. It had become a sort of physical affliction, drilling into my mind the only two paths left for me. Both were out of my reach; out of my control.

Both were placed into the hands of The Father, left and right. A pile of dust and ash collecting on his left; the meat hook dangling from his plump index finger. He crushed the pile in his hand and threw it to the wind. He gripped the meat hook as he had all those days before. I was left to pick up the scraps of tear-sodden memories.

Something felt amiss. The snake had left its pit.

Through the poorly-constructed wall, I could hear the TV blaring. The squeaking of the broken recliner hinted that The Father had barely seated himself. The laborious breathing that accompanied the hollow screech was unlike him. There was no field to toil, and there obviously was no work to be carried out elsewhere.

I couldn’t see, nor hear it, but The Mother was resting by his side. She was eerily silent, despite her chatty self.

The rust-stained, blood-soaked metallic snake protruding from her mouth wasn’t her tongue. Somehow I knew. I knew as soon as the door smashed open and The Father’s snake hissed at me.

It used to belong to The Family. Now it belonged to The Husband.
Part of an anthology I'm working on entitled "The World." The title wouldn't function w/o the anthology's name, of course. Which sucks, 'cuz I plan to use the same scheme for the next two. Anyway, this is the first of the three.

I won't spoil too much, but all stories deal with the gain of a highly-respected authority figure at the expense of a weaker party due to their subjection to the oppressive former. Covered prior, the titles will be "Belongs to X," where X represents the authority figure.

Prevalent themes among the three include the freedom to choose how our lives play out, and how our past influences our actions in the present.

I figure this is a good-sized story; enough for a separate entry both here and on CPW. Enjoy. Comment and critique maybe?
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April 19, 2014
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