Her Stare

Her Stare charcoal drawing
Her Stare short story illustration. Charcoal drawing by author.

Her Stare

The girl didn’t go rigid and look terrified the way her brother did.  When her parents started screaming at each other, she just ignored it all and stared at the kitchen cabinets across the table.  She stared at nothing really.  There was no emotion in her eyes, and her face was blank like she wasn’t really there.  It didn’t matter how loud or drunk her father was or how much her mother screamed back at him or how many hysterical guestures they made or how long the fight lasted, the girl’s face didn’t change.  Not even when her mother started sobbing in ernest and laid her head on the table and started saying she might as well go throw herself off the bridge.  The girl just ignored her.

It didn’t used to be like that.  Back when she was barely able to look over the edge of the table and she had to sit on the edge of her chair, the girl would cry with her older brother.  They would cry and hug their mother together, and she would promise them that everything was going to be all right, and they would hug and hug.  All three of them hugged and cried, and then it was time for bed, and their mother watched her TV shows.

But then there started to be more nights than not when there would be a huge fight at dinner and their mother would talk about suicide.  Then things changed.  Then only the boy would cry with his mother after his father had slammed out the door.  The girl wouldn’t cry or even get up from her chair.  She just stared at nothing in particular and didn’t say anything.

short story by Joe Riverson Smith