Points of Impact, pt. 2
Four years later, I was attending a nearby state university. Living in
the farm house we had occupied was a family of four.
Sometimes you hear about what happens
to the families that live in the homes you've abandoned.
The husband employed himself as a
full time metal sculpture artist and part time handy man. The wife
sold chicken eggs by the side of the road. The rent on the place
wasn't much, and they managed the day to day life just fine. They had
two cute young daughters who were smitten with the farm life.
One day, the husband and father began over-reacting to every little
thing. Something in his voice betrayed a hidden anger. He retreated to
his workshop and tore apart metal, twisting the original forms beyond
comprehension. He stayed there all day and all night. His wife and
mother of his children brought him food and drink and a blanket, which
he didn't need in the heat of composition.
Inside the home, the wife put the children to bed. She read them
stories together, and when the smaller girl was asleep, read to the
older one individually. She put on reading glasses halfway through the
hour long ritual, and sipped at an ever cooling mug of hot tea and
She pushed the edge of the blankets under and over the tiny forms
tight and checked the windows for cracks. The mother and wife closed
the door, leaving a sliver of light to cut into the warm space. She
walked down the stairs, grabbing an afghan blanket off the banister.
She put her cup in the sink of the kitchen and ran it under water. She
looked out the kitchen window, past the fruit-bearing trees and saw
the light from the workshop.
She went into the living room and turned on the small, barely working
television. Local reception was spotty, more radio than video. She
tuned into public broadcasting, interrupted the middle of a raucous
British imported sitcom. She sat with the blanket on her lap and
slowly drifted off to sleep.
She was woken suddenly by the sound of glass breaking. Coming out of
first stage sleep, she initially shook it off as the remnants of a
near dream. But then it happened again, the sound coming from outside.
It was barely there, muted by distance, then again in her right ear,
hardly registering. She stood and went to the window, but saw only
darkness past the light cast from inside. She felt like a tiny ship at
sea, the moon hidden behind clouds, and pulled the afghan closer. Time
passed and she waited, keeping watch. Nothing happened.
She walked to the service porch, pulled on a jacket and unlocked the
door. The smashing, shattering sound of glass again, this time from
right outside in the garage port not twenty feet from her. The wife
and mother got very afraid now. She locked the door back up and
retreated into the living room. There were two large picture windows
that killed the heating bill, but provided a gorgeous view of the
valley. She looked out from behind, like a second pair of glasses, the
feeling of desperation and inaction overtaking rational thought like
the quickening of her breath.
She heard the sound of broken glass, the tinkling of the shards
against the floor, now from inside the house. The small service porch
window, she rushed back to it, just peeking in. A clump of metal was
still coming to a rolling stop. She locked the secondary service door
and rushed upstairs, one hand in front of her mouth, the other
swinging and grabbing and pushing. She was crying, tears were coming
fast down her face, but she made no sound. One of the picture windows
imploded as she went up the steps, not looking back.
The mother went to her children, who were already awake and confused.
She pulled them from their blankets and they all went into the master
bedroom, with its two stairwell hallway doors and connecting bathroom.
The sound of breaking glass continued. The mother phoned the police,
who were calm and even. The mother tried to match their rationale
tone. It occurred to her that they were separated by so much. The
voice on the other end was sympathetic, casual, and assuring, trained
to relay information, to be a presence, but the two worlds the mother
and the dispatcher occupied were far apart and could never be bridged.
One was safe, away from harm, comfortable and emotionally distant.
Whereas the mother was suffering a shock induced breakdown, her home
invaded and ♥♥♥♥♥ by brute force, her children contemplating their own
mortal danger perhaps for the first time, her own very life perhaps in
the balance. What was in her ear, alien, calm and constant, a flood of
reassurance and it's alrights it's okays. The mother knew the voice on
the other end could not hear the tinkle of glass, the crunch of
footsteps over the ruin, the bass of whole house beating to the sound
His voice called out to them, the husband father's. He said he was
bleeding, that he'd cut himself, that he needed help. The mother wife
kept talking into the phone, her children close to her in silence,
erratic breathing in their tiny chests, not sure what they should be
doing. They played with each other's hair.
He pounded his fists against the hard wood door. When it would not
give way, he tried kicking it. He persisted for minutes, screaming
obscenities and threats of violence, pleading love and death in the
same bloody roar. Eventually he collapsed, weeping, shaking the door
with his sobs.
When the police arrived, he came back to life and took to defending
his home from the authorities. He was subdued and sedated and put in
the back of the police car until the ambulance arrived. When the
officers assured her it was over, and that she could come out, the
mother wife and her daughters emerged, shaking but pacified calm.
There were smears of gore all through the house. The father husband
had cut himself pretty bad on his hands and arms. It was revealed that
he punched out his car's windows first, with bare fists. When he
noticed how badly he'd cut himself, he wrapped them and continued
punching out windows with his bandaged hands. For the windows he could
not reach, he threw his art through, making one last bold statement.
The husband father was not a bad man, he just for some reason forgot
to take his medication. The mother wife and her daughters stayed at an
anonymous women's shelter in the woods for three weeks while he
recovered, served a small stint in jail, and went to counseling. All
the while I helped my grandmother with the repairs to the family home.
The mother wife felt so incredibly horrible and understood that no
simple apology or explanation would do. The family vanished to another
town, another rented home and prayed to god something like this would
never happen again.