Craig Taylor-Broad (Writer)

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Jimmy’s Trainers

A crash rang out.

'Jimmy, come here! Right this instant!'

Jimmy was in his room. He sniggered and then walked out, his hands pulling at his face in an attempt to straighten it. His mother was at the top of the stairs. Her fat cheeks burnt red under dark hair perfectly scraped flat to her head like road kill and her arms crossed strictly over an apron splattered with flour and stained brown with animal blood.

'What have I told you about leaving your shoes at the top of the stairs, you're gonna break my neck!'

They both looked at the white trainers, almost perfect except for that spit of dirt by the left heel. Jimmy looked on at the pureness of them, imagining them to be a naughty kid, unwilling to confess that they had eaten the last cookie, despite the almost black smears of chocolate tattooed across their cheeks. A silence of five seconds hung itself, seemingly like a lifetime, both parties eyeing the shoes, and the laces curled into them like a turtle crawled up into its shell. Then the silence ended with his mothers smokers huff, crackling crisply through the silence as she paced back to the kitchen muttering to herself. The silences never lasted long enough. The attention always faltered, and fast. Jimmy picked up the trainers, and walked to the hallway, placing them in the empty space in the shoe rack. He could smell the resemblance of his mother; pastry and a deep sweat. He stayed there for awhile, his eyes closed and recalling moments from his childhood. Then he went back to his bedroom, the pangs of sadness coming in heavy, punching at his gut like a boxer quickly wearing him down.

Jimmy’s life had been this way since his father had left. The trainer routine for three years now, leaving them on the top of the stairs so his mother would almost trip on them and then call out to him. This was the only time she would ever acknowledge his existence, and he guessed it was because him and his father looked alike. He had begun to treat the trainer thing as some childish game, but it wasn’t. And it wasn’t a boy trying to kill his mother either. Although he knew it might look that way if she did actually break her neck tripping over his trainers. Sometimes he would pretend that he was Damien in The Omen, but then he would break out in an uneasy laugh and mutter to himself that he wasn’t the devil for christsake. Just another kid trying to get attention from a single parent. There should be a rule book for this type of thing by now he would muse, and he wondered if one day he would be intelligent to be the one to write it. In his room Jimmy would spend the rest of the day, post-trainers, playing video games. He would chop the heads from monsters, shoot bad guys in the face, and not once did he pretend that they were his mother. But maybe sometimes, they were his father. Pixelated murder had become the perfect way for Jimmy to escape his mind, to forget about those ten seconds where his mother would look at him, and the billions of seconds she wouldn’t. But even then, the more he played, the better he became, and the pauses between levels came thick and fast, and the dreams of his mother holding him rolled into his skull heavy like a storm cloud, drenched in sadness. She would hold him, talking about his father, and resolutely agreeing with Jimmy that they would be okay because after all, he was the man of the house now, and then he would awake, his eyes fixated on characters on a screen, knowing that these probably cared for him more.

The next day, at nine thirty, he was awoken. First by the blood curdling sound of a high pitched shriek, then by the deep bruised thud of fat on carpet and the crack of fortune cookied bones being feverishly torn in two. He rushed out of his room and saw his mother, a crumple mess of skin, bone, hair, blood, clothes and flour. She lay there still, her eyes fixed on Jimmy. The silence seemed to last a lifetime. Then from the kitchen the oven pinged. His mother groaned along with it. It looked like Jimmy would be getting attention after all.