She sat hunched over the fireplace, shielding her son from the cold. He was already dozing off, dear thing. She sneezed as quietly as she could, so as not to wake him, and rocked him slowly and gently, almost to the rhythm of the howling wind outside. The rain showed no signs of letting up.
In the silence of the storm and the wood crackling cheerfully in the fire, the old wooden front door swung open in fractions, creaking at every stage. She kept on rocking with no reaction.
“Hi, honey. I’m home.”, he called cheerily.
Closing the door, he turned stamping his boots and shaking off his wet jacket into a ceremony all on its own.
Still she rocked, lightly kissing her darling boy’s forehead, admiring him lovingly. The reflexive smile that came to her face caused her to wince. She put a hand to the bruises that dotted her once pretty face, and remembered all the times this man had raised his hand to her. When his meals took longer than usual. When the salt shaker was slightly beyond his reach. Wen he was drunk. When he was tired. When he was sad. When he was breathing, really.
Sighing deeply, she lowered her hand and instead used it to arrange the blanket covering her boy.
“I missed you today”, he went on, apparently enjoying this conversation he was having with himself.
“I had a really long day, and this weather didn’t help any.”
Standing up slowly, she carried her darling to his bed, piling more clothes and blankets on top of him, then standing and just watching him sleep for a while.
Finally closing his door behind her, she went back to the fireside. He was still prattling away to himself but she didn’t really care. She fondly fingered the butt of the rifle under the heap of straw on the rough hewn mantelpiece where she’d hidden it, . The farmer down the road had been so nice as to lend it to her. She idly wondered if she should go on with her plan, or give the old piece of filth another chance.
“…So I saw him just as he was about to lay into his wife, and I stopped him. You know how I hate violence against women…”
Grabbing hold of the rifle , she swiveled around and looked at him askance.
This is dedicated to my favourite sister in the whole world, and the amazing gift I suspect she will soon give me, out of the blue *angelic smile*
She is my only sister.