An extract from ‘The Vanishing of Apollo Creed’. For Dad.
That night, as me and Mum had dinner she kept looking at the clock. It was a Sunday and Dad usually went to the pub, but always came home to eat. My brother was in his bedroom, he’d had dinner at his friend’s house and didn’t want to sit with us. So we ate quietly and watched some slow, faraway television for while. Neither of us spoke. After eating, I had a big cup of milky tea and Mum also had a drink. Eventually I told Mum that I’d help her do the pots and she said that she’d like that.
I watched as Mum pushed Dad’s congealed dinner from the plate into the bin. I thought about the hungry kids in Africa that my teacher told me about. I think Mum thought about them too. Her face was red.
When Dad got home, I was at the sink in the middle of our long kitchen (it was a bit like one on a ship). Mum was making me another brew, as it was my favourite bedtime drink. Dad came in through the door at the other end of the kitchen from Mum. She was stirring the tea and watching it swirl; she jumped when the door closed loudly. She didn’t look up. He stepped towards me, looking around the kitchen and swaying with the motion of the waves. He smelt like a pirate.
‘Where’s me dinner?’
The tea swirled faster. Pirate breath filled the room. Dad looked at down me. I glanced over to Mum. She turned her head to Dad and stared at him. I knew that Dad wanted me to leave. I knew that Mum needed me to stay. The only sounds were of our breathing and the teaspoon touching the inside of the cup.
I looked up at my father. His eyes were glazed and wild. I didn’t see him as my dad, I saw an angry pirate; bearded and dirty. I tried to tell him with my eyes that I wasn’t scared of him. I stared at my father until I could barely see him anymore and my eyes watered. We all stood there like that for a while until Dad growled and swirled angrily, leaving the kitchen in huge, sloppy strides. As he thumped up the stairs I realised I hadn’t taken a breath in quite a while, I gasped hard. The stirring stopped. I didn’t look at Mum but I knew she was also watching the foot of the stairs. When I heard the door to my parent’s room slam shut I rushed to Mum and hugged her. I thought if I held on tight, she’d stop shaking.
Taking my cup of tea, we crept upstairs and into my brother’s room. He wasn’t too happy to see us but soon we were all in his bed watching his tiny television. No one talked, we all just stared at the television and listened hard. After what seemed like hours we heard Dad going downstairs. We all held our breath during the banging and smashing sounds; our eyes never left the TV. I think I fell to sleep first, not long after the noise had stopped. When I woke up, Mum was sat at the end of the bed. She looked like she hadn’t slept at all. I moved to put my head on her lap and went back to sleep.