An Old Recipe 5

Sarah arrived soon after Cyrus began his ferocious assault, and the appearance of Butch’s older sister brought their father to his senses. He left, as he typically did after his attacks, retreating to the church, his office within the basement — the safest place for both him and his family.

Butch retreated to the bedroom, shared in years past with up to four brothers, now occupied by only he and Simeon. The youngest Goodman child lay on his lumpy mattress, propped against a wall across from the room’s only window and resting uneasily on a decades-old box spring that groaned under his weight. The door was closed, lights off; nights when his father beat him were one of the few times he preferred solitude.

tap tap. Butch lifted his head, saw a shadow in the light under the doorway. The only family member with footfalls too light to be heard was his mother. “Come in.”

The door opened a few inches, and Faith’s eyes peered in. Seeing Butch rise from the bed, she pushed the door fully open, motioned with her right hand for him to remain sitting. She was carrying a plastic bag in her left hand.

“Can I turn on the light?” Her right hand moved to the light switch next to the door, flipped it up without waiting for Butch’s answer. The light revealed the plastic bag to be a disposable storage container, filled with crushed ice.

She reached the bed (low to the floor, as there was no frame under the box spring), sat awkwardly at the far end, Butch raising his knees to make room for her. Above her head, a faded Star Wars poster on the wall.

“Where’d he hit you?” In response, Butch pointed silently to his left ear, and the back of his right shoulder. He scanned her face, saw a bruise developing under her right eye.

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