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Short Story - 'Timothy Smith'

22nd November 1973

Timothy Smith was a skinny child. His blond hair and blue eyes were striking but the most significant aspect of his appearance to those that did not know him was his posture. Even at the age of ten years old he had what appeared to be a crooked back. He always cast his eyes down. Of course, for those that did know him, this was because he was an easily intimidated boy and seemed to avoid human interaction. The only exception to this rule was his mother. If she was near he would certainly raise his head, straighten his back and run to her gleefully. However she was not near. She had not been near for some time.

    The poor boy’s greatest hope was that she would be able to come home soon. Although even when she did she stayed in bed and was incredibly weak. He did indeed look shy as he sat bent over on the rug at the centre of the living room. Dim light cast shadows over the boy, the rain drizzled lazily outside and slid down the small window of the room.  He glanced up to the window and the vase of wilted lilies that sat on the shelf and then heaved a sigh and returned to what was occupying him. He held a small toy tractor in his right hand and moved it back and forth. Over and over again, staring at it. This was Timothy’s feeble attempt to distract him from the noises above. The noise grew louder. Two voices. His sister and George. He could no longer ignore them out so he pushed the tractor aside and drew his knees up, wrapped his arms around himself and buried his head. This time it seemed never ending. The voices turned to yells, to screams. He thought of his mother, if only she were here. A door closed with an almighty force causing Timothy to let an involuntary gasp escape his mouth. He heard thundering footsteps pound the stairs and then the living room door burst open. He kept his head tightly buried. The footsteps slowly made their way closer to him. The smell hit his nose: Liquor and tobacco. His head was still buried. His sister had remained upstairs. He did not need to look up to know who it was. It was George. It was his step-father.

17th October 1977

The room was dimly lit and cast dark shadows upon the two siblings. A storm raged outside pummelling every crevice of their home. No it wasn’t a home. It was a house. No not a house, a building with four walls and rooms inside. Every gap of the room seemed to be filled with dirt. The once bright red rug now looked brown with the amount of dirt that had gathered upon it. The table to the left of it was stained, mostly with alcohol.

    Timothy’s sister looked towards her brother across the room who stood at the old rickety table focusing on his task. She pulled the sleeves down of her oversized jumper and gripped them in her hands. Her hair was lank and unwashed. The small lines appearing around her red, puffy eyes added at least ten years to her frail body. She sat on a worn grey couch and continued to stare towards her brother as if longing him to say something. Of course this would not happen. Timothy had not spoken for five whole days. Not even to himself. Sorrow encapsulated his mind. Greif. It ate at him like a vulture scraping at its prey.

   He crouched over the stained table arranging flowers in a black vase. Lilies. He moved one back. One forward. He switched their positions entirely. It was not right. Over and over again he moved them but he was not satisfied. Four large black vases sat upon the table and a large mound of lilies. Lilies were her favourite. It had to be perfect for her. It had to be right. Hunched over further he pushed the vase aside with his stained hands and drew up the second to start afresh. The thunder cracked overhead and Timothy’s sister gasped. He had not noticed it. He glanced to the window. The trees fought against the wind but to no avail. They were being battered.

    He brought himself back to his task, angered he had forgotten himself and lost focus. Back and forth. Back and forth. They were still not right. His hands were stained further. How many more hours would it take him? His sister began to sob quietly once again. For a moment he pulled his hands from the flowers, turned his head slightly towards her, but quickly returned to his task. Back and forth. Back and forth. He grunted in frustration. He could not understand what he was doing wrong. Her sobs became louder. He re-arranged more and more quickly throwing one whole flower to the floor as he did so. It simply would not fit.

“Please Tim”

He sighed and turned his head towards her. Her large, round, blood shot eyes looked up to him. He stared at her then resumed his mission. Why did she not understand? She began to sniffle again.

“Timothy please don’t make me ask again. Just leave it for now. Talk to me.”

Thunder clapped once more and again his sister gasped. He ignored both. Emptying the vase he decided he would start afresh.

“Tim, We can’t go on like this! You should be able to talk to me. Fuck’s sake, I’m not invisible am I?’

He sighed and continued his work. Every stem seemed to curve in the wrong way. As he pulled the third empty vase towards himself his sister sighed with exasperation and rubbed her eyes. As sobs renewed she spoke with desperation,

“Please just come sit with me, George will be back soon. We need a plan.”

Timothy’s ears pricked at the sound of George’s name. Fear filled him. For the past five days his sister had done nothing but cry. She constantly spoke to him when they were alone. Or spoke at him. She was under the impression that they had a way out, an escape. He knew better. He loved her deeply but the sheer naivety she expressed maddened him.

“Tim he’s only going to get worse. Please if you’d just talk to me. After Friday we could run. Leave. Anywhere! I don’t care.”

He closed his eyes, dropped the flowers and shuffled towards the couch. He sat next to his sister and brought her into his arms, stroking her hair gently. She looked towards the black vases.

“We’ll have them ready for Friday, they’re beautiful. She would have loved them.”

The sound of thunder burst from the sky for the third time but she only shuddered. Timothy stared out of the small dirty window of the house. The fierce weather did not mask the unmistakable sound of a key thrusting into the lock of the front door. His sister sat up urgently and stared at Timothy with large, alarmed eyes. He pulled her to his arms once more and glanced out to the horrendous weather, wishing he could be stood within natures grasp instead of the walls of this prison.  

2nd of January 1978

Timothy Smith was broken. His back seared. The pain was excruciating. He knelt on all fours gasping for breath with tears gushing down his face. The pain had been this bad before but not once had he allowed it to show. George had finally broken him.

“Fuck you, you little shit!”

With one final colossal strike George stormed from the room, his belt still clenched tightly in his hand. Timothy curled on the floor with exhaustion and howled in pain. It filled every part of him. He drew quick sharp breaths as he attempted to focus his mind. He heard the scrape of a bottle being picked up from the kitchen top and then hammering footsteps batter the stairs. The mental and physical agony he had contained for months now seemed to pour from every particle of his body. He curled on the floor and shrieked in pain. He desperately tried to steady his breath and calm himself. He could not.  The torture devoured every inch of him. He thought of his sister. She was free. She was free! A manic laughter escaped his mouth and his breathing began to steady. He took deeper and deeper breaths and uncurled himself to rest on the back of his feet. His back still burned. He was not sure how long he had wept for.

    Taking slow and steady breaths he thought of her and smiled. The punishment was worth it, she was free. It had taken them nearly three months to plan it and then to raise the courage to carry out their plot but it was worth it. Of course Timothy should have been with his sister at this moment, on the eighteen twenty three heading to London. But he had known deep down all along that this would not happen. They had carefully been taking money from him over the past few months and hiding it in the lining of bags and within their pillow cases. It wasn’t much of a plan but Timothy knew that George was too strong once he had hold of them. They had attempted to overwhelm him as he returned from his daily trip to the off licence as he came through the door. The memory of this afternoon would stay with him. He could feel it ingrained in his mind. Her shriek had been piercing.

“No Tim! No!”

George’s massive bulk had launched itself towards his sister’s small frail body and dragged her to the floor by her collar. The sound of her skull hitting the floor filled Timothy with such adrenaline that his actions became automatic. He was unaware of any damage George may have been inflicting upon his own body. As his fist met with George’s thick jaw once more he had a moment to lock eyes with his sister. His fierce stare told her to run. Run from their porch as fast as she could. He had to give his sibling a chance. The flying fists continued until George had left enough of his rage as marks across Timothy’s pale skin. He had thrown the boy into the hallway and locked him in once more. With Georges return Timothy felt both joy and dread. He returned alone which meant she was free. But he had paid the price.

    The pain began to feel like a sort of satisfaction. She would come for him when she could. He knew she wouldn’t go to the authorities. George had made it clear he had too many ‘friends’ that would ‘sort them out’ if they tried. It had been hopeless until now.

15th of July 2000

Timothy Smith stood in his bathroom with his back to the mirror. He glanced over his shoulder and with shock noticed the numerous long red scars that crossed over one another along his pale white skin. He stared at them for a while. He rarely looked at them any longer and their appearance surprised him. The memory they produced was no longer painful. It simply reminded him. Reminded him what he had to do until he could leave that memory for ever. He crossed the hall from the bathroom to his room to dress. His wardrobe was lined with four variations of one rather similar shirt on the right hand side, five pairs of black trousers to the left and two pairs of shoes at the floor, one brown and one black. He chose his lightest blue shirt, black trousers and brown shoes. He’d worn these every Sunday. The shirt was his sister’s favourite. As had become tradition for this day of the week he left his small flat in the city centre and entered the bustling high street.  A warm summer breeze rustled its way through his blond hair and he inhaled deeply. Two tube stops later and a short walk he reached ‘The Bluebird’. Through the large glass windows he saw his sister. Sat sipping a coffee and wearing a beautiful summer dress. She loved this place. He couldn’t imagine why. It was like so many other coffee spots in London but she seemed so relaxed here. He entered, she looked up and smiled and stood up to embrace him.

“Hey! How’s your week been?”

He filled her in on all the usual weekly business. Nothing new. She told him what his niece and nephew had been doing at school, that she and John had managed to find a decent babysitter and go out for dinner one evening, and all about a new curry recipe she had tried that was delicious. He smiled and nodded where appropriate. He loved his sister dearly but every Sunday the same thought crossed his mind. How did she do it? Lead a normal life? Leave their past in a box? Surely his method was a more healthy approach? He had raised the topic with her only once and she said it was it in past and that she was fine and they needn’t talk about it.

    Timothy often wondered if she was truly contented. His sister had certainly nagged him on the topic and constantly told him to stop searching but he knew it was only out of worry. Surely she must also, want to or need to finish it in the way he intended? In his mind he did all the normal things you should do for a pleasant life; He held down a good job, paid his bills, visited his family and he’d even been for after work drinks a few times with his colleges. Surely these things should make him happy? In his heart he knew he hadn’t truly felt any joy in his life for a many years. The only emotion that seemed un forced was anger. A slow burning anger that gathered inside him. There were certain ‘loose ends’ that needed tying up. Finishing. Burying. The reason he and his sister had been trapped so long, the reason his smile was fake, the reason he had scars and the reason his mother had died. George.

14th October 2003

The blood pulsed through my veins. Hands clenched. My heart raced. Sweat trickled down my face. I stood stock still. Staring. Every particle, muscle, tissue of my body was focusing. Focusing and stood severely still. So still. For the first time in forty years I felt alive. I felt that this was the moment of my birth. The rage inside my body burned. The fiery rage I had felt for countless long, painful years was nothing to how I felt now. It was both fantastic and excruciating. Exhilarating and petrifying. I was breathing for the first time, low, rasps that seemed to crawl out of my fixed mouth. I could see for the first time. My eyes darted robotically from point to point through the dirty window. Analysing every aspect; The whirling machines, the beeps, the white sheets and of course the wrinkled, grey, weak man that lay in the clutches of the rusting bed frame. The moment I had longed for had arrived. He was mine. George was mine.

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