It's short... and there isn't much explanation. If it must be told at all, he will insist on that much.
* * *
The house is hushed as he steps into it out of the pounding July heat. The little window-box air conditioner hums as if it might fall apart and he'd swear he could hear a buzz of flies somewhere. But it's empty... it feels empty, the way places do when the only noises being made aren't being made by living, breathing people. "Mom?!" he calls out, just in case. She's supposed to be home; he was supposed to come in and get her for church. People are waiting. His Grandfather is waiting in the run-down red pick-up truck outside, the one that smells funny. You do not miss church in Christ's Cross.
His footsteps make the old stairs creak painfully and echo in the silence. The afternoon light shifts on peeling wallpaper, creeping in through the windows. Her bedroom is empty, but his Mother's Sunday dress is laid out on her bed, waiting. He backs out of the room. The bathroom door across the hall is ajar. He hears the sound of flies again. A buzzing in his head. He pushes the door open. The walls are yellow-white. The shower curtain has little yellow and green flowers on it. The water is red. It takes a moment to register. It's not the right colour.
"Mom!" He rushes to her side, pulls her out of the water. She's covered in red. Everything is red. She's still wearing her slip. Why is she dressed? In the bath? Her eyes aren't right. They stare. The water is already cold. "Mom!" She just stares. She's so heavy. She's gone. She's fucking left. Left him. Left him here in this fucked-up house. Alone.
She did this. He pulls her arms out of the water. Her wrist. Her left wrist gapes open, redder than the water. Time rushes back in with that realization. Heat floods his veins. The water isn't so cold anymore. The fucking bitch had dragged him here and then fucking left him. "Fucking damn you, you fucking whore!" he screams as he grips her hair, blond hair dyed to red, and smacks it against the tub with a dull crack. Her eyes don't change. Her face stays the same. He does it again. There is a rush of footsteps on the stairs and down the hallway. Someone is screaming obscenities. Someone is grabbing his arms, pulling him off of his Mother. Some of her hair comes with him, tangled in his white-knuckled grip. He is flung against the sink, his head hitting the cold porcelain. His vision blurs for an instant.
His Grandfather's fury and fear fills it when it clears. He is the Devil himself, Satan come to poison their lives and steal his daughter's soul. "Get out!" is screamed at him, over and over. A heavy boot connects with his back as he tries, sending him sprawling into the hallway, onto the rotting floorboards. The world tips sideways and something wet and sticky drips into his eyes. The world is tainted red. It fits. He half-falls down the stairs. He finds his Grandfather's keys - not to the dirty truck, but to the cramped little car he keeps in the garage. The one meant for city driving. The one that had taken him away from his home and to all of this shit years ago.
He will go back.
He will go back.
Nothing here for him, now.