Those Dreaded Friday Night Lights

The boy lay atop the wrinkled, threadbare sheet, sweat beading on his face, as he waited; waited for the sound of tires sighing on the narrow blacktop street… and the lights that would splash across his window as the old truck pulled into the yard. He waited with a sense of familiar, painful dread.

Too many Friday nights he’d lain in this bed—the bottom of a bunk set—waiting for the horror those sounds and lights would signal; waiting for his father to come home.

He could hear the sounds of his two little brothers—one in the bunk above and one in the twin bed nearby—their soft breathing a sound almost soothing, but not quite. He envied them their youthful lack of worry, and absence of fear. Yet he knew when those headlights glared across the window, they would soon awake and share the nightmare sure to come.

It was an occurrence all too familiar, and yet one a child of thirteen could not grow accustomed to. Friday afternoon would come, and when the old blue truck did not arrive at the time it should—some thirty minutes beyond the time his father got off work—the knot would begin to form in his stomach. By seven—or at the latest seven-thirty—the knot was a painful cramp; by ten it was a dull ache consuming his entire body. It was fear, squeezing the breath—the very life—from his young, lanky frame.

He wondered how his mother could sleep; or…. was she too, lying awake staring into the darkness, waiting for the whisper of tires and the flash of lights; the rumbling sound of the rough running truck; the wailing screech of the door as it opened then the echoing bang as it was slung angrily shut.

No…. he thought, staring into the silent gloom of the tiny, hot room. She’s awake…. and waiting…. for those dreaded Friday night lights.

The clock on his nightstand was invisible in the dark, but he knew it must be near midnight. He turned his head and stared toward where the small clock sat A flash of light confirmed his guess of the hour; then in rapid succession, muffled only slightly by the rapid beat of his heart, the noises he’d dreaded filled the night.

Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, tears joined the beads of sweat on his face as he braced himself for the sounds of cursing… soft pleading… then… the crying. He trembled, choking back sobs.

6 Comments »

  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    Heartbreaking!!

  2. cheri said

    that was sad…but so true for so many…and even now in my 50’s…i can still feel that way…that waiting and wondering what will happen when that front door opens…

    • I’m so sorry you know what I’m talking about. I wonder how many children are going through these things on these “modern” day friday nights? Have things changed? I hope so… but I think not

      • Brenda Lewis said

        Charlie, I can honestly say, I never had to experience that, thank the Lord. But, I do know that the person you are referring to, was a mean, hard hearted,( & or heartless), unfeeling, worthless, lying, evil, no-good, man. He delighted in hurting other people. I can see his “smirky grin” now, & remember always “feeling uncomfortable” around him, because of the “off color” jokes & comments he always made. Of course, there was always one of his “cronies”(drinking buddies), around at the time. He never knew what awesome adults, those scared children, turned out to be. God bless you!! I love you, Brenda

  3. Joy Rawle said

    Some women just don’t know how to pick a good man, but then some men seem to change when they have to be responsible for a family. The woman has to have the strength to get herself and her children out of the situations they create by picking the abusive male. Unless these women have friends and family or church to help them, it seems an impossible choice. It sometimes takes a lifetime to learn you don’t have to settle and make the best of a bad situation. Sometimes, if you can get them to admit their short comings, the male can change but it is not very likely he will.

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