They’d been fighting, screaming at each other for more than an hour when suddenly all sound stopped. It was if the house was holding its breath. Sound melted into ominous silence.

I’d been hiding in an upstairs closet. The dark was comforting. I always hid when they fought, so he couldn’t find me.

Suddenly the closet door opened and Mom reached inside past where I sat. She was crying as she grabbed the shotgun propped against the wall.

“Stay here.” she said to me, but I didn’t. I followed behind her to the top of the stairs.

He stood halfway down, kitchen knife in hand, his face twisted in rage.

She raised the shotgun and pointed it directly at his chest.

His words slurred. “You don’t have the guts,” he sneered.

The world exploded in an apocalypse of smoke and fire.

When I could see again, he was at the bottom of the stairs in a twisted heap, bloody from the knees down.

Mom said, “Go get the neighbors,” and I did, going down past him, tracking bloody footprints onto the downstairs floor.

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