His father’s face softened as he inched forward, stretching out his hand.
Roland smacked it away, his chest tightening as he drew in a shaky breath.
The two stood in silence; the son with his head lowered, desperately biting his tongue and the father calmly shoving his hands into his pockets, looking up at his wife as she tiptoed down the stairs.
“What’s are you two arguing about at this hour?” his mother asked.
Roland raised his head and wrinkled his nose.
His father turned his back and headed toward the parlour. “Go wash up. You’re getting blood on your shirt.”
“What happened?” his mother said, firmly. The sharpness in her tone caused his father to turn his head. She pulled her son’s face into her hands, twisting his head from side to side examining the purple and green bruise running between his left brow and cheek.
Roland glanced over at his father.
“Does it hurt?”
Roland wriggled away from his mother and wiped the blood from his brow.
“Roland, let me look at you.”
“He’s fine.” His father muttered. “Roland, go clean your face.”
He forced a smile through gritted teeth and turned toward the front door. His hands shook as he turned the lock.
His father glared at him. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I don’t have anywhere to go.” Roland whispered, slipping between the frame of the door and into the warmth of the summer air. He jumped as the door swung shut behind him. He stumbled off the porch, his body trembling. Something bubbled up from within his chest and erupted from his lips. A sound. A scream. A feeling. Whatever it was, it made him numb.