He lacks friends in school. The other kids call him weird. The bullies torment him everyday. But he does not fight back. The bullies take relish in this. They’d push Mark around, shove him to the ground, kick him, punch him and yell, “Let’s add to the bruises!”

Everyday after school, Mark returns home to his little rundown house at the bad side of the neighborhood. The lawn is overgrown. Crap is everywhere. The path is beaten. The door is dirty.

Mark enters the house and is always greeted by more crap. The couch is torn and tattered. The dishes are piled up in the sink. Flies buzz around while cockroaches crawl across the rooms.

The familiar family members, empty beers along with empty syringes are scattered everywhere.

Mark’s father would stumble into the house at night, drunk out of his mind and angry with almost everything in his life, particularly the loss of his job due to a work injury, the divorce from his wife and what he has become, beaten, unaccomplished, lonely and sad.

Mark’s father would yell for his son to do his bidding, which usually meant preparing food for him and getting him a beer.

Then Mark’s father would watch TV for awhile.

Mark prays that he’d fall asleep.

But there is no god most of the time.

His father attacks him. He’d slap, punch, kick and on several occasions, throw him onto the ground. He’d add on to the bruises and cuts.

Mark does not fight back. He never does.

But it’s okay, that’s okay, he thinks.

This would mean his father would not take it out on his little sister, Erica, age 4, instead, who is now crying by the side.

Once Mark’s father is done, he’d retreat to his own room to sleep off the rest of his intoxication.

Mark would then hug Erica. He tells her it’s okay. He would do this as long as he can, forever and ever.




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Alden Tan

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