“It was just a joke,” Harrison told his father.
“It was no joke, it was a stupid act of a stupid boy,” said his father.
“Donald…” said his mother.
“You spoil him.”
“You abuse him.”
“Abuse him? I’ll show you abuse.” Harrison’s father struck his mother in the face with the palm of his hand. She only took a step back, but her face turned crimson.
Harrison wasn’t expecting the kick in the stomach. His father was more agile than he thought. He gasped for breath and fell on his knees. It didn’t hurt yet; it was such a surprise, but it would hurt later when Harrison was in his bed trying to sleep.
Harrison’s mother screamed in horror. Before she could reach her son, Harrison’s father picked up the glass of whiskey and threw it on the tile floor, where it shattered into a million pieces.
“Clean it up,” he said to his wife, and left the kitchen. They could hear his footsteps on the stairs, and then the loud bass of the television.
“He didn’t mean it,” Harrison’s mother said, as she knelt and pulled him into her arms.
“He didn’t?” said Harrison. It was like his mother was speaking in a foreign language. The whole house now looked alien to him. Was it his house? Did he belong here?
All his friends played jokes. He thought it was normal. Things were confusing, especially today, now, with his mother holding him so tightly, another angry welt on her left cheek.
“He was just not in the mood,” his mother said. Not in the mood? thought Harrison. Then I will try the salt joke again. Jokes are normal. He should learn to be normal. The world needed to be normal.
He asked his mother if he could go outside and kick the soccer ball around.
Harrison kicked the ball, hard, again and again, against the brick fence in the back, until his mother called him for supper. Only once did it go over the fence. Their neighbour’s daughter, who was visiting from France, tossed the ball back with a smile and a wave.