It was just past midnight when his father cornered him in his room. He could just make out his mother’s crying in the other room as his father looked at him, the belt hanging loose in his hands. He cowered as far into the corner as he could, but he knew that nothing was going to save him from what was about to happen next.

His eyes widened in fear as his father closed the gap, the belt flying high into the air and then coming down across his face and shoulder. He shrieked out in terror as the leather tore into him, his fear mixing with pain. He huddled down, trying to cover his face with his hands and arms. The belt came down again, this time hitting him across his back and neck. Tears rolled down his cheeks as the sobs caused his 13 year-old body to shudder. His father’s voice was nothing more than a dull background noise that broke through to his ears after every strike.

“Worthless.” The belt stung him again.

“No good.” Another red mark he would have to hide.

“Mistake!” The final blow as his father’s alcohol laden breath seethed into his ear, reminding him of the darkness of his world.

“Mistake? Mistake? How dare you try to make me look stupid!” her mother’s voice screamed over the paper. “Why isn’t there an ‘A’ on this paper! What are you trying to do, make everyone think I’m raising a moron!” her mother slammed the paper down on the table as she took another drag from her cigarette. “Do you know how this makes me look!” Her mother reached across the table and glared at her.

“Give me your hand.” Her mother’s voice was stern and demanding. She shook her head at her mother, cowering back in fear. “Give it to me! NOW!” Her mother reached across and grabbed her arm, and even though she resisted, her mother was too strong, pulling her arm out straight across the table. She knew if she fought back, it would only make her mother more angry, but she also knew that tomorrow morning, she would have to wear long sleeves again.

Her mother looked at her, holding her arm down with one hand as she reached for the cigarette. “What have I told you about mistakes, young lady.” She glared down at her.

“There is no such thing as mistakes.” she heard her own voice, the fear and pleading that filled it.

“That’s right. So you did this on purpose.” Her mother’s voice was now calm, but the violence was just under the surface. “You did this to make me look bad.” Her mother took a long drag on the cigarette, the cherry glowing bright red. “What have I done to deserve a worthless child like you?” She said, blowing the smoke into her face.

She could only sit and tremble as she watched her mother lower the cigarette down toward her arm. “Worthless.” her mother repeated as she watched the cigarette touch her skin, and for an instant, she tried to hold back the scream, but the pain was too much for her and her 11 year-old body finally caved in as the tears coalesced with the burning.


Published by

R. Todd

MFA from the Queens University of Charlotte ('21), BA in English from the University of Central Florida ('17), Group leader for the Florida Writers Association since 2019, member of AWP and ACES.

8 thoughts on “Worthless…”

  1. This was powerful and brilliantly written. You brought the reader into the scene, made them feel the fear, experience the pain. I lived in an abusive relationship for 4 1/2 years until I finally got the guts to stand up to my ex husband and tell him I didn’t care if he killed me, he was not going to lay a finger on my mother. She had cancer at the time and he was drunk as usual. Then I called his mother and told her it was HER TURN to be abused by her precious son…he was on his way. Well yeah, then my mom decided she was calling the cops and he ran home to mommy. Next time I saw him, he came to move out then filed for divorce. Guess beating me up was no longer “fun” for him. I don’t know…just was glad and relieved to be rid of him. Your writing blows me away. I have written about my own personal experiences in the past and it really helped me come to terms with it. I lived it. Brilliant job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you…enjoyed?… the stories. I know it can be hard to read stuff like this for some people. (I will admit, however, this is not from my own personal experiences.)


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