He got a new shirt for Christmas, a white grandfather shirt, and a new pair of jeans and he felt cool when he looked in the bathroom mirror. He felt more grown up, he was 13 now and half way through his first year in secondary school. He would probably be allowed to wear it out to meet his friends during the school holidays after all the family stuff was finished with. He didn’t feel cool very often these days as he was starting to ‘fill out’ a bit. He had always been a bit pudgy as a kid, but it never bothered him until he started in secondary school; someone in his class had started calling him ‘fatso’. He had told his Ma and she said they were only jealous because he was much stronger for his age, ‘You’ve big bones, puberty has kicked in early for ya’, he loved his Ma.
He was still admiring himself in the bathroom mirror when he heard his Da shouting his name from the kitchen, well screaming his name more like. His heart nearly left his chest with the fright of it, and he ran downstairs to see what was wrong. But he didn’t need to be told, there was his Da at the kitchen counter with the Christmas pudding in his hands. ‘Did you fucking cut the bottom of this?’ ‘well did ya?’ ‘fucking answer me or I’ll throw it at ya’.
His life flashed before him, he just wanted the ground to swallow him up; he had found the pudding only 2 days before and thinly sliced the bottom of it for a taste. He never thought his Da would notice. But nothing got past that man when he was sober.
What could he say? So he just lowered his head and stared at the floor. ‘ya fuckin fat bastard ya’, he looked up just in time to feel the fist make contact with his nose. The pain shot through his head and he staggered backwards clutching his face as the blood started to drip from his nostrils. His Da had already turned and gone back to wrapping the pudding up again without saying another word.
The tears were now flowing, mixing themselves with the dripping blood as he made his way back up the stairs to the bathroom. He pulled at toilet roll and tried to stop the blood from dripping over his new white shirt but already the white was stained with red polka dot patches down the front.
He sat on the toilet as the blood dried up, and heard his name being called when the doorbell rang.
He ran back down to his Da waiting at the bottom of the stairs, ‘give this to the yer man at the door, tis for the coal’ and handed him money and walked back into the kitchen. When he opened the door he saw the look of shock on the coal mans face. ‘Are ya alrigh?’ the guy asked, ‘Yes’ he lied. The bright red blood stains against the new white material of the shirt could not be missed.
What he felt at that moment was worse than the pain he felt when his Da’s fist hit his nose. Yes he felt embarrassed and ashamed standing in his front doorway in the state he was in, but it was that his Da would send him to the door looking the way he did now that hurt him more.
He hated his Da more than ever and vowed to never let him touch him again.