The Mother Knocks Again, Harder This Time

 

But still there is silence. She says the boy’s name sharply. Open the door. She steps back, watching the narrow bar of light that creeps from under the closed door. What can the child be doing in there. Open it, she says. Or I’ll call the cops. The door opens a few inches, grudgingly. He wears pajama bottoms, no shirt, his eyes cast down. The mother pushes past him into the half-lit room. The bedclothes in disarray, a lamp knocked over, the smell of sweat. The boy glances nervously at the closet: among sneakers and boots stands a pair of narrow feet. The toenails are painted pink, the ankles are slender. The mother approaches, a hand over her mouth. The feet belong to a naked girl. She hides among hanging coats and dresses, her hand shielding her face. The mother gasps. She turns to the boy for explanation. He shrugs. Then an explosion of movement as the girl grabs her dress and runs from the room. A flash of pale flesh. The front door slams. (more…)