I knocked on my front door. No one had ever given me a key, it was just tough luck if no one was there to let me in. Father answered the door. He was over a foot taller than me, his hair greying, his clothes ridiculously neat. His eyes glinted with fury. He yanked me inside and pulled me up off the floor by my t-shirt so that our faces were level. The fabric cut into my neck, half blocking my airway.
"You thief" he screamed, less than half an inch away from my face. My ears rattled with the noise. I blinked. He had looked in his safe. "How did you know the combination?"
"I worked it out"
"You stole 200 dollars"
"230" I corrected him, well beyond caring what he would do to me. He threw me away from him and I launched six feet across the room, crashing into the bookcase. Thick, sharp ended books fell from the shelf and landed on me. I felt blood coming from my forehead, arm and chest, trickling down my skin. Father dragged me out by the leg. He stood over me, calculating. He kicked my stomach and I wrapped in on myself, protecting my head. He kicked again, his foot hitting my chest, my back, everywhere. He didn't stop.
"Please..." I said after a few minutes, the air knocked out of me, my body on fire. He had never been this physical before. Usually, it was distance, discomfort, assuming control. He had never truly beaten me.
"Shut up" he spat, kicking me in the knee. He stopped, grabbed my shaking arm and yanked me upright. I was panting in pain, and he had exerted himself beyond what he was used to outside of the marines. He punched me in the stomach, and I leaned over, gasping. He pulled me back up and his fist made sharp contact with my face, breaking my half healed lip. He continued to hit me until I passed out. Every nerve in my body was screaming in agony, blood leaking from numerous cuts. I woke up on the floor inside my bedroom door. I rolled over and hurled the small contents of my stomach. Shaking from head to toe, I pulled myself up using the bed. The mirror was on the wall, and I caught sight of myself. There was no way I would be allowed to go to school. Not for weeks. I wouldn't be allowed to leave my room, even, because there was no way to hide it from Mom. She would see the second she saw me. No hiding. My eye was sealed shut, blue and black swelling surrounding the socket. My lip was split wide open. Dried blood crusted my hair up, revealing a large cut on my forehead. Bruises covered my neck, arms and shoulders. I took my t-shirt off gently and gasped at the sight of huge black bruises covering my chest, stomach and back, a two inch gash across my left nipple. I took my trousers off, shivering in my underwear in my too cold room. My legs were covered in bruises too. There was barely ten inches of my body that was not black, blue or bleeding. I could hardly stand up. My breathing was limited, every time I moved I could feel the injuries. Very suddenly, Mom walked into the room, sobbing. No, he couldn't have hurt her. No.
"Greg, oh my God, Greg!" she cried, wrapping me into a hug. "Your Father told me what happened, he was so upset"
"Of course he was! He's down at the police station now, telling them exactly what happened. Do you need to go to hospital?" I separated myself from her and sat weakly down on my bed. He was at the police station telling them what happened. What did that mean? He was confessing? To what? He didn't kill me, and he was provoked. It was stupid to steal that money. Completely stupid. It was my fault. If he confessed then he could go to jail. Then his life would be over, all because I was so stupid.
"What is he going to tell them, Mom?" I asked quietly. She came to sit beside me, unable to take her eyes off my bruised flesh.
"Exactly what happened. That group of boys who stole the money he gave you. It was a lovely thought John had, to get something from you both for my birthday. But you should have just given it to them. It was silly" it felt like a slap in the face. He wasn't going to tell them he hit me. He was going to report a robbery. I couldn't help it. I started to cry. Mom cupped her hand around my head and cradled me close to her. I hadn't had peaceful human contact in weeks. I'd had to avoid her, caring so much about her opinion, that she would think me weak and pathetic and stupid too. But now Father had excused all my injuries. I didn't have to keep them a secret. So I cried hard into Mom's shoulder, the pain, the injustice, the hurt at being humiliated and controlled seeped out onto her blouse. She stroked my hair, offering irrelevant words of comfort. For the first time in weeks, I was secure, safe. I was almost happy, content in my mothers arms. No one could hurt me there. No one.