Molly Dear

Posted on July 7, 2008


Gerry lay on the piece of hessian sacking which passed for his bed sheet, head pressed into the goose feather pillow. He listened intently as the strident voice of his stepmother forced its way through his bedroom floorboards from the kitchen below. She was telling lies about him again and he knew what would follow. He could hear his father’s deep voice attempting to placate her.

After a minute or two, the voices stopped. A chair scraped on the stone kitchen floor and his father’s hob-nailed boots began climbing the wooden stairs to the attic where Gerry lay, shivering and terrified. He counted each ominous thump, his heart almost bursting through his tiny chest. He knew what was coming…

Seven, eight, nine…..! The door to his bedroom opened and there stood Sean Sullivan, his 6ft 2in muscular frame crowding the doorway. He looked at his son without compassion, then walked towards the bed and, as he did so, he unbuckled the large, brown leather belt around his waist.

“C’mon boy…up!” he barked. Gerry was already climbing out of bed and removing his nightshirt; he knew the drill. He’d been here before.

Naked, he turned submissively and lay across the bed, his knees on the wooden floorboard, his eyes screwed shut, awaiting the first stroke. When it came, it was with such force that he almost fainted. His head involuntarily shot up and his back burned like fire, while multi-coloured lights exploded in his head. Six times the belt landed heavily on his back, each deliberate stroke leaving raised, broken, welts from which blood ran in tiny rivulets down his skinny body and onto the bed. Sullivan never gave a second thought to what he was doing. If Molly, his second wife, wanted the boy disciplined, she must have good reason. Why would she tell him the boy was being wilful if he wasn’t? Why would she lie? And, after a hard day’s work, didn’t he just want a quiet life?

The punishment at an end, Sullivan turned, and re-threading the belt through the loops on his trousers, left the room without a backward glance at his eight year old son. As the door closed, Gerry climbed onto the bed and turned to face the wall. During the beating, not a whimper, not one sound, had escaped his lips. He had wanted to scream out loud with every lash, but no sign of weakness had he shown. He knew better.

Someone threw the light switch downstairs, and his room was plunged into darkness. Only then did Gerry allow his emotions to flow. His nightshirt, screwed into a ball and stuffed into his mouth, gave him something to bite on when the pain was at its worst. The tears flowed quietly. Gerry he had always looked up to his father and loved him deeply and, although not overly affectionate, his father had never mistreated him while his beloved mother Kathleen was alive. Was her death two years earlier from “consumption” my fault, Gerry wondered? Was that why this was happening? What he knew was that, Molly, his stepmother would be pleased with this night’s work and gloating over his predicament.

The beating had once again been severe, but his father had not broken any bones – he had simply broken Gerry’s stout little heart…

Last edited by Ronmac on July 7, 2008, 3:40 pm

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2 responses to “Molly Dear”

  1. Interesting.
    The final sentence finishes with an exclamation mark. I wonder if three little dots (…) would be better? The exclamation mark for me somehow trivializes the emotional distress?

    I’d put the "seven, eight, nine" in italics maybe?

    I don’t doubt this sort of thing was commonplace a mere generation or two ago. This has the feel of something bigger. Is this a preview of a longer work? Good descriptive powers. Your style is such that the pace gallops along with little mercy. Many people will like that. There is little beating about the bush. No waste of words. Fast moving.

    I’d like to see (a whole lot) more…

  2. Hi. Thanks for the input. Once again, you’re right, and I’ve made the changes (actually I had put the counting in italics in my original, but forgot to transfer it over).

    This is the first part of a true story – the upbringing of my father who suffered dreadfully at the hands of a wicked stepmother and whose father turned a blind eye to what she was up to because he wanted a quiet life.

    I intend to write more chapters very soon. It was a promise I made to my father: that I’d write his lifestory while I could.

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