Tonight I am a mouse. I am diminutive, and I am inaudible. I am swift, and I am graceful. I can not be caught.
The dilemma for a mouse is that there is always a cat watching. Lurking in the dark, patiently waiting for the mouse to wander out into the open. But tonight the nasty feline is in slumber.
Immersed in an ebony cloak of the night, I extended my lingering hand and grasped the door handle in front of me, to my surprise it turned easily and I presciently wedged my foot between the doorframe and the door to dull the sound of it creaking open. As it opened I was only greeted by more darkness. The entire house was engrossed in shadows, the air was still - lifeless. But listening closer I could hear the purr of the cat, measured rumbles vibrating through the walls. Normally I would be scared - vigilant - but tonight I was comforted by the sound. It meant he was asleep.
In time my eyes began to adjust to the dark, and I could make out the delineation of the obstacles in my path. With a deep breath in I began making my way through the house. Like a zealous mouse I manoeuvred through the house soundlessly and with heist, dodging table legs and dancing over misplaced shoes, constantly heeding to the consolatory purr.
I had finally reached my destination - or what appeared to be the lounge room. Most nights my dad would watch the news until early hours of the morning, so the TV remote was presumably still lodged down the side of his chair. After first fishing out a lighter and a broken cigarette I recovered the remote. Tentatively before turning the television on I made sure I could still hear the faint purr of the dozing cat. The motor like rhythm still bounced down the corridors, and put my heart at ease.
I aimed the remote towards a black figure in the corner of the room and felt the remote for the familiar ON button. The figure instantaneously awoke and light flooded in the room, painting the walls ocean blue and revealing the furniture cluttering the room. Then I remembered the volume. A crowd of voices spilled out from the television, and echoed down the hallway. Frantically I stabbed at various buttons on the remote, none of the many possessing the power to switch the tube off. Until finally, the light died and the room fell silent.
I felt my lungs give way and my heart drop into my stomach. I froze. No longer could I hear the purr. The cat had woken.
It was too late. The silence was broken by ponderous feet thudding down the hallway, growing louder and closer with every second. I felt his presence at the end of the room; I could hear his frustrated grunts, his puzzled mind still grasping the situation. Suddenly the ceiling light switched on, burning down on me like a mass spot light. There he stood before me, the most formidable of all my dreams. He stood like a Gorilla ready for battle. His face radiating red and the veins in his neck pumping rage through his body. His fists were clenched by his side - his knuckles white from his grip - and he stood with his feet apart, almost in a fighting stance. His penetrating gaze quickly located me.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" He thundered. I stood shamefully in the middle of the room, with nothing to say. My eyes began to well up; I tried to fight the tears.
"HUH? What the FUCK are you doing? Were you watching that TV? Because I swear to God if that thing was turned on...” He lunged forward two feet and raised his clenched fist to his shoulder, his chest heaving with adrenaline. He beamed at me, awaiting an answer. His usual natural ocean blue eyes had frozen over to an ice cold light blue, the iris a black whirlpool.
I choked back another wave of tears; I had to give him an answer.
"I-I.. I wasn't, I was just getting a drink," I mumbled, sinking into the single sofa beside me.
His fuse had already burnt out. He charged towards me, diving for the legs of the chair. In one effortless sweep I felt the chair vanish beneath me as his hands pulled it away. I collapsed to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces - face first.
"DON'T play games with me!" he spat down at me, slamming the chair to the ground.
"Stop! Don't hurt her!" came a terrified shriek from the doorway.
My head still dazed, I looked up to see my mother running into the arena with a semblance of horror on her face.
"STAY OUT OF IT!" roared my father, spinning around to stop her. She ran straight into his out stretched arm and he tossed her aside like she weighed nothing. He sent her hurling across the room, stumbling and unable to stabilize her footing she ploughed into the bookcase, and fell to her knees.
He starred at her, sobbing into her hands. For a moment I thought I saw a glint of deplore in him - but he was prompt to correct me.
"I've got work in the morning and this little rat is sneaking around and woke me up!" he pointed down towards my limp body on the ground, and fixed his eyes on my mother. "WELL?"
I couldn't stand it when he spoke to her like that. She had done nothing wrong.
I felt a wave of energy and anger seize my body, and stand me on my feet. My hands curled into fists and my entire body tensed. My heart racing, feeding my lungs with courage.
"DON'T SPEAK TO HER LIKE THAT!" I demanded. "DON'T HURT HER!".
Before allowing myself the time to reconsider, I ran en route for him, throwing my body weight and fist at his chest. It crumbled on impact, my flimsy fist bouncing off and not even causing a moan of discomfort. I was foolish in thinking my feeble attempts could hinder his woeful heart. I paused and looked up at him, searching the creases in his face for any sign of solace. He returned my gaze, his lips had tightened and his eyes widened, I had really done it. With one sweep of his shovel like hand he sent me hurling across the lounge, being stopped only by a collision with the wall. I felt the plaster breaking beneath my cheek and thought about the mark it would leave in the morning.
My knees caved beneath me and I fell into an unconscious heap on the floor. I hushed my urge to cry. Through puffy eyes and scrambled thoughts the room looked like a black hole, spinning, drawing me in. Swirling shades of purple - slow dancing across my eyes. My bones ached. I pushed through muffled screams and staggered down the hall, searching ferociously for sturdy doorframes to hold myself up. No longer quiet, or graceful like an infinitesimal mouse on my feet, I felt my eyes close over.
My father’s words rang after me, cold and harsh, "GET TO YOUR ROOM!". Footsteps followed and he hurried me along like a road raged motorist, cursing in my face.
I closed my door and for the first time tonight, I felt the world go quiet.
I stumbled over to the bed, and gave in to the cussing demons tugging at my arms, compelling me to close my eyes.
A surge of volume enters the room, and I am wide-awake and greeted with pillows and twisted blankets on my bedroom floor. He throws them down hard and I wait for the feathers to burst out - but they don't. My mother stands hunched against a wall behind his left shoulder, tears streaking and love blinded. He dashes out and back in, hurling a firm black mattress on the floor narrowly missing my head in the process. "THAT'S FOR YOU,” he lifts his legs in a childish tantrum stomping out of the room, leaving behind silence.
My mother and I stand in the dark alone, trembling with unused adrenaline and fright. I bend down and pick the pillows up one by one and set them on the mattress, unsure whether to turn the light on. I stretch over and grip the blanket and place it over the top, taking my time in an attempt to fill the silence. There are no words for this.
She repeats to me to stay quiet, and I do. "We'll talk about it in the morning," she says, but we both know we won't.
She pretends to sleep and I turn in my sheets uncomfortably.
Outside, the cars pass the busy road just outside my window and I find them mesmerizing. Most nights the headlights and indicators danced across my eyelids sending me to sleep, but tonight I am somewhere else.
My mind, still hazy from the blow, speaks of pretty places far away.
Today I am a boat, capsized and tossed into the sharp stuck rocks. I have travelled oceans and carried passengers with outrageous secrets and covered flaws, never to be known again. I have survived the eye of a million storms and battled monstrous unknown creatures.
One thing that is known to me, though;
There is not enough water in the ocean to drown me.