Found this challenge at Be Kind Rewrite, part of their Inspiration Mondays. I used the prompt “Children’s Prayers.” No real rules to follow this time. The piece kind of got away from me, and didn’t end up exactly as I planned, but still might be good.
The children knelt in front of the television; feet crossed over ankles, hands held together, mouths agape. Their blond heads haloed in blue light against the dark of the room.
Fat men dressed in colourful suits danced about on-screen. Wide red smiles painted across their jowls, their cheeks and forehead covered in thick smears of pan-cake white. They dance and sing. The program cuts to commercial. A voice says to stay tuned. A curly-haired doll crawls and cries. A cartoon beaver sells cereal that looks like sticks.
Mumbled voices drift in from the kitchen. No louder than whispers against the blare of the television, but the anger in the hushed words travelled across the rooms clearly. The volume of the voices grew until the children heard every word.
“I spend all day at work, at a job I hate, and for what?” the deep voice said. “A filthy house, no dinner, a bourbon soaked wife and kids with half-dead eyes.”
“You watch your mouth,” the high voice said. “They’re probably listening.”
“As if they could stop drooling and pry their eyes away from of the television. And why would they? Their mother spends all day either drunk or asleep or with her legs spread wide. What else could they do?”
A plate shattered against the kitchen wall, then a glass and another. Forks and knives tumbled from a drawer. A resonating slap of an open palm driving against a cheek followed. Then a short cry, choked-back tears and angry feet stomping away.
The children knew better than to turn their heads. They inched towards the television, still on their knees, hands clasped together, basking in the glow against the growing dark around them.