Fear of Friday

There was a dime of sunlight on the living room floor, and Elani tried to grab it with her fingers; it was a shimmering daub that spilled out from between the bunched curtains. Eldridge demanded darkness when he came home from work. He suffered from headaches, and the smallest swad of light bothered him.

Efrim sat on the floor beside Elani, rolling a toy truck back and forth, being quiet about it, and their mother stood in the middle of the kitchen, staring at the clock. Eldridge was never late coming home Friday night. He’d come in, cradling a case of beer in one arm, and his lunch bucket dangling from his scarred fingers. They could tell right away, all three of them, how it was going to go. The expression on his face was the barometer for the night, or by the way he shut the door. A string of blasphemies sometimes preceded, before the door had a chance to latch. When it was bad, his temper filled the house like burly smoke. No smiles or hugs could subdue him. To Efrim, it felt like living with a bundle of dynamite. When the clock ticked 5:02, they heard the Pinto pull into the driveway, and their bellies tightened.

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