'Bricks and Mortar'
LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction
'Bricks and Mortar' by Malina Douglas
Liam stumbled in, took two steps, and collapsed.
Sean slammed down his glass. “Oi''ll not have ya drunk in my house!” he roared.
The boy lifted his head. "Dad," he croaked and retched onto the carpet.
An unripe sun beneath a stuffing of cloud-wool. Fried eggs on buttered bread, steaming.
Liam pushed away his plate. Faced his father, hungover and scowling.
Sean scowled back.
“What 'ave ya done to yoursel'?”
Liam met his eyes. “Nuttin' you wouldn't do, Da.”
Sean felt the spear-point of his stare.
“Drinkin' like that'll be the end o' ya!”
“So what?” shrugged the boy.
“So what?” Roared Sean. “You wanna throw your life away?”
“It's not like you'd care if I did.”
The words caught at Sean.
“You think I don't care? You're wrong."
The words dogged Sean as he slapped mortar on brick.
Circled like sharks along the damp Dublin street. The close-built drab buildings seemed to crowd him until he slipped into the pub for a pint of five pm solace.
But the ale only sharpened his discontent. He'd been foolish to think his actions hadn't left an impression on Liam. The boy built his world from the scraps of all he'd seen. As Sean had.
It's my father's fault for leaving, thought Sean. The abandonment still pulsed within, an injured beast no amount of drinking could stifle. It did not stop Sean from trying.
Sean stared at his ticket to London. Tore it to shreds, his past with it. Watched the pieces swirl and disappear. I refuse to become the man I hated.
He walked home. To build or destroy, the choice was his. He did not know what shape his life would take, but he was going to keep building, one brick at a time.