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  • Mia Lyttle Twysted

Anniversary Nightmare

Courtney let out a low sigh, not thrilled to be watching the Disney Cars movie. However, she was fond of Mater. Cuddled on the right corner of the couch, she smiled, observing her two younger brothers, Kenneth, 10, and Frank, 7, as they zoomed around the room pretending to be driving beside Lightning McQueen on the racetrack.


"Pizza!" her two younger brothers screamed at the doorbell.


"You get the plates. I'll get the door," Courtney said.


"Pause the movie. Pause the movie," Frank screamed.


"Yes, of course, pause the movie. You wouldn't want to miss something you've seen a thousand times." Courtney giggled.


"Exactly," Kenneth said as he paused the movie and ran to the kitchen.


Pulling the coffee table closer to the couch, Courtney opened the box, placing the pizza on the plates before sitting down again.


Courtney's thoughts drifted as they moved on to Cars 2. A text from her mother about a flat tire along the highway told her things were off to a bad start. Her parents had not been out together alone in some time. She was only 16 years old, but she was old enough to know they were having a rough time of it. Things around the house had gotten tense lately, and she hoped this night would be just what they needed.


Courtney knew the boys needed a fun night as well, as they had ended up in her room three nights in the past two weeks, being woken up by the hushed raised voices of their parents "discussing" things in the master bedroom. As they dove into the third installment of the series, she pulled out the ice cream and sprinkles and made them Sunday.


Sitting in the middle of the couch with her siblings on either side, they all snuggle in the oversized blanket. By the movie's end, the boys leaned against her, snoring as she picked the pepporrri of the remaining pizza. Hearing the keys jingle in the backdoor, her stomach sank as the cursed voices of her parents tore into the calm she had created.


"How was I supposed to know we would get a flat tire and miss our reservation?" Her father said.


"If you had plugged the tire properly instead of just filling it with air hoping it would hold, it might not have gone flat, David," her mother said.


Tapping the boys on the shoulders, Courtney guided them up and to their room in hopes of avoiding a situation. Tucking them into bed, she shut their door and tiptoed down the hall to listen so she knew what she would be sidestepping in the morning.


"That's right, everything is my fault. It's all me, right Beth?" Her father's voice boomed.


"Let's real exam the night, " her mother said smartly. "We get stuck along the highway because the tire went flat, missed our reservation because you wouldn't let me help you with the jack, then on the way home, the car overheats because you didn't look into fixing it after the last time it overheated because," she paused," you turned it on last night. You let it sit for a few minutes, and everything seemed fine. Are you kidding me, David?"


"I've enough of this, Beth; I just can't seem to do anything right, can I?"


"One evening out every now and again is all I ask; that's not too much. I didn't even complain that it was just dinner."


"Just dinner," David said before taking a hard breath.


Courtney heard hard stomping, indicating that her father was walking out on the conversation. Hearing the door to the boy's room squeak open, she rushed down the hall just in time to push Kenneth in the door, get herself behind it, and shut it as her father stormed by with her mother close behind.


"You can't walk away from every damn conversation that you don't like David." Beth's voice echoed down the hall as the couple went into their bedroom, the door slamming behind them.


"Courtney, what's going on?" Frank said, coming too as his brother and sister hovered by the door.


Motioning with her finger over her mouth, she hushed the boys. Slowly walking across the room, she sat on the side of Frank's bed, brushing her hand over his hair.


"Court, I have to have to use the bathroom," Kenneth said, doing a little dance.


"You can't hold it?" Courtney said.


"No, I'm sorry."


"It's okay," Courtney said, taking his hand, knowing what he needed. "I'll go with you."


"I wanna come," Frank said, pushing back his covers.


"No, no," Courtney whispered, "why don't you stay here."


"I don't like being in the dark alone," Frank whined.


"Okay, Okay," she said, "we'll all go together real quick."


Gathering by the door, she stopped, taking a deep breath before opening the door. Taking her hands in hers, she moved them down the hall as fast as she could without making a sound.


"I don't like being forced to do things," they could hear their father's voice as they passed.


"If you would have taken care of it in the three weeks you had, then you wouldn't be forced to do it at the last minute," their mother said forcibly.


"Okay," Courtney whispered to Kenneth as he entered the bathroom.


"They are fighting again," Frank said.


"I know. I'm sorry."


Kenneth opened the door as he finished pulling up his pajamas.


"I have to go too," Frank said.


"I thought you might," Courtney said, "go ahead. Hurry up."


The light from under the bath and bedroom doors gave a light glow to the hallway. Courtney's fingers tapped rapidly on her leg as she listened to her parents exchange hateful comments.


"I had fun tonight," Kenneth said, causing his big sister to stop and smile.


"It was just movies, pizza, and ice cream, but, yeah, I had fun too."


"Are they going to get divorced?"


"I don't know, buddy. I don't know."


Hearing the toilet flush, Courtney opened the door, retrieved her youngest brother, flicked off the light, and started back down the hall. As the trio went to pass their parent's room, the door flew open. Courtney threw her arms out, swooping the boys against the wall behind her.


"That's right, David, run like you always do. No need to finish the conversation. Don't know why I would expect you to; you never finish anything."


Growling, David mumbled under his breath, "You want me to finish something? I'll finish something." he stormed off down the hall.


"What are you doing up?" Beth jumped, noticing her children in the shadows of the hall.


"The boys had to go the bathroom. I was just taking them back to their room."


"Thank you, sweetheart," Beth said, rubbing her daughter's cheek. "Hey, boys," Beth bent down, taking one of her son's hands in each of hers. "You okay?"


"Daddy looked mad," Frank said.


"Don't worry about that; it will be okay in the morning." Kissing both boys on the cheek. "Alright, back to bed."


Flicking on the light in their bedroom, Beth ran her fingers through both boys' hair as they crossed the threshold and started toward their beds. Courtney tried to talk to her mother but bit her lip, nodding to her mother that she would tuck the boys back into bed.


"Let's finish this, Beth," David yelled, coming back into the house and down the hall.


"Alright, let's bring it down," Beth said, making matching motions with her hands.


"Oh, I'm going to bring it down," David said.


"David, no!"


Kenneth and Frank's eyes grew wide as they watched their father bring down the face of the hammer in his hand down on their mother's head. Courtney wrapped her brothers in her arms, trying desperately to cover their ears and eyes as their mother was beaten to death just outside their bedroom doorway.


Courtney stifled her screams, watching her mother's blood spray across the hall walls. Her father's eyes were dark and void of any resemblance. His sizeable muscular arm swung over and over, cracking Beth's skull into pieces.


Stopping, David knelt over his wife's body, breathing heavily. Turning his head, he stood staring at his three offspring. Walking toward, he held the hammer tight in his hand as it dripped with blood.


"Don't look. Don't look," Courtney wrapped her arms tighter around her siblings. "Dad, don't. Please don't."


"You don't think I'm good enough either, do you?"


"Daddy, please," Courtney said quietly as tears ran down her face. "You don't want to hurt us."


"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH," David screamed, raising his hammer.


Courtney put as much of her body as she could between her father and brothers, preparing for the worst. The thud of the hammer echoed their eardrums as they all screamed. Suddenly, the noise stopped. Courtney opened her eyes to find herself and her siblings alone in the room.


"Stay right here," she told the two boys as she went to the door looking out into the hall.




The boys screamed at the sudden pop.


"Kenny, I need you to lock this door behind me and don't open it or look out till I return."


"No," Frank cried.


"You can't leave us," Kenneth said.


"I will be right back, I promise."


"But Court..."


"Kenneth," she cut him off, "do it."


Her back pressed against the door, and the teenage girl clasped her hand over her mouth so as not to scream at the site of her mother's mangled body on the floor in front of her. Whimpering, she stepped over the body and inched down the hall to her parent's room.


"Dad?" she said, forcing herself to enter their bedroom. "Dad?" Oh God!"


Tears streamed down her face at the sight of her father's limp body sprawled out across the bed with a pistol in his hand. Blood pooled around him, staining the blue blanket and tan sheets. Bracing against the doorway, she closed her eyes and took deep breaths. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she returned to the boys.


Knocking on the door, she spoke, "It's me. Unlock the door and back away."


Hearing the lock click, Courtney took one last breath and slipped into the room.


"Alright," she said as calmly as she could, "we're going to leave."


"Where's Daddy?" Frank asked.


"Um," Courtnety sniffed hard, "Daddy's...Daddy's had an accident." The boys cried out. "It's okay. It's okay. I've got you okay."


Looking around the room, her eyes focused on a pack of pirate eye covers the boys convinced their mother to buy the other day. Grabbing the pack, she pulled out four.


"Here's what's going to happen," Courtney separated them. "You're both going to put one of these over each of your eyes. We are going to walk out of the room..." the boys cried, "we are going to walk out of this room. I want you to keep your eyes shut tight under these," she continued, putting them on each child. "You're going to hug the wall as we go out. Don't leave it till I tell you, okay?"


The boys shook their heads. Making sure they were set, Courtney opened the door. Straddling her mother's body, she guided the boys down the wall until they cleared the body. Rushing them out of the house and to a neighbor concerned neighbor on their way to check out the disturbance, Courtney turned, seeing the leftover pizza still on the coffee table.



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