Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Barefoot In The Snow

My brother tightens his vise grip on my neck, pinning me to the wall like a broken butterfly, fastened to black velvet for the curious to inspect. My dangling feet kick wildly, inches above the floor.
"You better do what Mom says," he snarls then looks to her for approval.
My bulging eyeballs threaten to pop from my head but instead leak fat tears. Throbbing eyes skitter across pink wallpaper, a cheerful contrast to the black scene unfolding in my bedroom. My vision blurs, then focuses on my mom. Standing in the doorway, face flushed, arms folded defiantly across her chest. A small smirk plays at the corners of her tightly pursed lips.

This moment in my young life forever changes me. Something slips deep inside my chest. A small shard of my broken heart, gashing its way to the pit of my stomach where it lodges forever, cold and hard.

Eyes popping, bladder bursting, conciousness frays like an old rope. My thoughts take fuzzy leave as hot urine trickles down my flailing legs. I see my brother yelling, his face a kaleidescope of pinks yet strangely I hear nothing, save for the sounds of ocean swells beating against my ear drums. And the ringing. The ringing coalesces into a single note.

The doorbell.

My mom rushes down the hall to maintain neighborly pretense. My brother releases me and follows. I drop to the nubby blue carpet, a crumpled heap gasping for breath. I know it's do or die. I unfold my tangled limbs, stretch to my window and fling it open.

Great gusts of frigid January wind whip my hair against my face, snake into my lungs and steal the only breath my brother hadn't already robbed. The freezing air shocks me into action. I peer from my second-story bedroom window, through spits of snow, down at the front porch where my mom is letting a friend of my brother's inside.

As the slam of the front door echoes toward me I hear my mother's purposeful stride in the hall behind me. Taking a deep breath, I pull myself into a crouching position, bare feet teetering precariously on the narrow window ledge then launch myself into the icy winter twilight.

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