#My52: Week 3
Word prompt: wheelchair
Word count – 867
Reading time – 2 mins, 12 secs
Consumed with hopelessness, Dex withdrew into his mind, immersing himself in schoolwork and dreams of being reunited with his father.
Months stretched into years and Dexter Morgan turned seventeen in a dusty, two-bedroom flat miles off the Las Vegas strip.
There was no cake or celebration.
Dex woke to the latest argument between his mother and Simon.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, he covered his ears with his hands.
I hate my life.
Resigned to his lot, he went to his closet, sorting through his meager wardrobe for jeans that wouldn’t show his ankles and a shirt that wasn’t threadbare.
Dex was walking down the hallway to the shower when he heard the slap.
His hands clenched into tight fists, gripping his jeans.
Why does she put up with it? Why are we still here? This isn’t a family.
Verna Morgan’s groans broke through his thoughts.
He continued on to the bathroom, his steps slow and labored.
He’d interfered before… tried to stop the yelling and the punches by putting himself between his mother and her boyfriend… and always came out the loser.
I’ll get dressed and leave. He will kill her one day and I refuse to witness it.
His hand was on the bathroom doorknob when he heard a harsh exhale from his mother.
And another… and another.
Dex fell against the door, hit by a wave of nausea and dizziness.
His eyes burned with unshed tears as Simon continued to deliver the body punches to the woman he said he loved.
Opening his mouth for a deep breath, Dex clamped his lips closed, fighting off the bile threatening to erupt from his belly.
He dropped his jeans and raced into the ramshackle living room.
Simon held Verna against the wall with one hand as he drew back his fist for yet another blow.
Dex crossed the room in two steps, grabbing the man’s fist.
Without releasing Verna, Simon turned his head. His eyes bore the darkness of evil and spittle flew from his lips when he spoke.
“Have you lost your damn mind? Let go, boy… now!”
Dexter’s face was the picture of calm as he tightened his hold on the older man’s fist and threw him across the room.
Simon crashed into the wall, overturning the corner lamp while a bruised and bloody Verna slid to the floor.
Propelled by rage, the teenager approached his mother’s lover.
Dexter had never raised his hands in anger to anyone. He’d taken the abuse and bullying at home and at every school he’d ever attended.
But as Dex loomed over the prone man, Simon raised his head and Dex saw fear… of him.
Today, his seventeenth birthday, Dexter Morgan realized he was no longer that frightened twelve-year-old boy snatched away from his father. Life had given him nothing in the last five years, but that didn’t stop nature from giving him seven more inches in height and sixty pounds.
With little effort, he lifted Simon from the floor, energized by the growing horror in the older man’s eyes.
“Every time you beat her, I hit you.” He delivered a brutal gut punch to his mother’s abuser, then dropped him in a heap and ran to Verna as her moans grew louder.
“Don’t move, ma. You need help. I’m calling 911.”
She struggled to respond.
“No, don’t. I’m fine.”
“You’re not, ma. Hang on while-”
Her voice was light and raspy but determined.
“I’ll be fine. Just help me up.”
Dex lifted her and laid her on the ratty, stain-covered sofa.
“Ma, you’re a mess. You need a doctor.”
“I said no. You shouldn’t have interfered, Dexter. Simon was just blowing off steam. I pushed him too far.”
Dexter’s jaws tightened, his rage threatening to boil over. Once again, she was blaming herself for Simon’s sins.
“You won’t be happy until he beats the life right out of you, will you?”
“Dexter James! Do not speak that way to your mother.”
“Oh, you get mad at me for speaking the truth but it’s okay if that piece of shit knocks you around-”
“You don’t understand.”
“You’re right, ma, I don’t, and I never will. But as long as I’m here, he doesn’t get to beat on you.”
“Then… maybe you shouldn’t be here.”
Her words cut him to the quick, choking his response.
“W-What do you m-mean, ma? I s-shouldn’t be here?”
“I don’t need you butting into my business and throwing Simon around. You didn’t hurt him, did you?”
Dex’s blood ran cold. The last vestiges of the frightened twelve-year-old boy skittered to the dark corners of his mind and huddled next to his stolen childhood.
“He can still walk so not near as bad as I wanted to, ma. But I’m out. I’ll leave you two to your little unhappily ever after.”
He stormed from the room, grabbing his jeans from the hallway floor. Forgetting about his shower, Dex threw on his clothes and dumped an extra pair of jeans into his backpack with his books.
Dex walked away from the musty apartment ignoring Verna’s weak pleas for him to come back.
She made her choice, and it wasn’t him.
To be continued…
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