It Stops by Claire King

Your temper was part of the fabric of our house, a stain between the coving and the flock. At night your foul, beer soaked threats and my pleas for mercy were ghosts floating through walls into the kids’ dreams. In the morning we’d breakfast on silence and bruises. I felt sorry for that child inside you still fighting some painful injustice – a beating handed down along with patched up clothes, a rationing of wartime love. Until years later, when the kids told me how you’d take your belt to their bare backsides behind closed doors. Bastard.

We made our escape on grimy streets under skies filled with crows, flapping like litter in the wind.

For years you drifted angrily alone. Then the grandchildren were born.

“A new start”, you thought, packing your narcissistic bags and dumping them on her kitchen floor. You were soon boiling over again, but her husband stepped in.

“Not in our house.”

How you raged then, the world proven to be as cruel as you’d painted it. Everyone against you, you angry little man.

She says she feels it too sometimes: the chemical rush of fury in flesh, telling her to grab their arms, shake and bellow and slap. When it comes she falls prostrate, pressing her face to the floor, waiting urgently for it to pass. “Here,” she says, “it stops.”


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Filed under Claire King

25 responses to “It Stops by Claire King

  1. Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

  2. Ohmygod, Claire. This is so powerful, so strong, it hurts to read it. I’m amazed at how you were able to do this and bow to your skill. Simply stunning.

  3. Al McDermid

    Every time I’ve attempted something like this, it comes out as an angry rant, so, bravo! This is incredible, a bit close to home, but incredible nonetheless. So well crafted. This ‘under skies filled with crows, flapping like litter in the wind’ is an amazing description, and yet it pales next to the ending.

    Okay, I’m going to stop now before I start gushing.

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  5. Claire

    Um. Wow. Yes. This. <3

  6. Wow! What a well written piece! Very sad but it ends in hope and courage as she tries to break the cycle by falling ‘prostrate…waiting urgently for it to pass.’
    Well done, a very good depiction of a difficult subject.

  7. Thank you everyone for such wonderful comments. I really appreciate them on a piece that I deliberated over for a long time. And thanks also to John for his very astute editorial suggestions this week.

  8. Brilliantly crafted with this the right amount of tension and empthy. I honor your courage and process and am so grateful you chose to submit and publish this one, Claire!

  9. Claire, as a writer, therapist and former child welfare worker, I found your story to be inspiring and evocative. Good work, you did a wonderful job. You caught the essence of the cycle of abuse and the power it takes to break it.



  10. So much said in so few words. Really brilliant. I love the line ‘We made our escape on grimy streets under skies filled with crows, flapping like litter in the wind.’ so atmospheric. A painful read – but that’s what writing should be about isn’t it? -to evoke emotion.
    Top marks from me.

  11. Wonderful and so vivid. Thank you for sharing it with us! x

  12. Without wasting a word, you painted images that came to life. Amazing job!

  13. This pierced me. You so captured the desperation here, Claire. Well done.


  14. Randal Houle

    In the morning we’d breakfast on silence and bruises. <—- I especially liked this line, although there were many others. The whole piece felt complete in its passion, angst, even remorse (at the waste).


  15. Very vivid and powerful writing Claire. It’s stunning, and definitely makes you think too.

  16. This particular gem is one of the most powerful and gorgeous bits of writing I’ve read all year. By anyone. It’s printed out, for savoring anytime. Thank you for having the courage to write — and publish — this story. Peace…

  17. stephen

    this is really well done. i like the controlled anger in the narrator’s voice, the one or two places it slips, the way that complicates the apparent detachment of other sections of the piece. how this sort of thing only sort of goes away.

  18. Unbelievable. One of the best I’ve ever seen.

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  20. grey johnson

    I liked the objective tone of this, Claire. I t was very real.

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