Ages ago, Frannie had put away all the knives and scissors—thrown away the shivs made from fractured plastic trays. She'd hidden the screwdrivers, rubber mallet, and drill behind a door that locked. She'd packed away those five hardback anthologies frequently chucked at her head from the second floor. And Darth Vader's helmet, cape, and light sabre? Goodwill.
Yet Duncan still stood there, all four feet of him, armed with a pen. Her pen with a waxy black feather on the end. The one she naïvely kept in a can by the phone—a gag gift from her critique group's Christmas party. Frannie wasn't laughing now. Neither was Duncan. He stood facing her, pen poised above his head and wide eyes staring at her shoulder.
“I'll do it. You're gonna get it.”
He mock-stabbed then swished the pen in the air like a sword until the feather whispered its agreement.
Frannie tried the lines from workshops led by “professionals” with zero emotion in her voice. But she was sure Duncan could smell her exhaustion. Her last rational attempt was, “Does hurting people ever get you what you want?”
But Duncan's hemispheres no longer participated in the drama. Brain-stem signals fueled him now: 100% pure animal instinct, reflex, and involuntary muscle. He ran at her, made contact with her thigh, then jumped back, ready to strike again. He laughed at the hole he'd made in her tan slacks. A hole soon tinged with blood.
She'd failed. And now she had to bring Robert into it. She wasn't mom enough to rein the boy in, so now the love of her life would have to get hurt, too. The couple herded Duncan from kitchen to living room to the stairs. But then Robert (always) had to do the heavy lifting.
They never did get the pen-sword out of Duncan's hand. He stood in his doorway for thirty minutes—watching Frannie, rubbing the feather the wrong way down its shaft so that every barb unzipped—and smirked.
Author's Bio: J lives in relative obscurity (but not poverty) in the foothills of California. This is her first piece of fiction.