Free At Last

I hear sirens in the distance; growing louder every second. The neighbourhood dogs are howling. I rush to the living-room, and see my three younger sisters huddled together on our bare wooden floor. I walk towards them and see my mother sprawled in front of them. Her face is bruised. There are fresh wounds on her body. I whisper in my sisters’ ears that she is not in danger but they are too convulsed in tears.

A police car stops in our front yard. An ambulance follows. I run out to alert them but our neighbour, Tanty Rosie is already there. A crowd is gathering. Two officers and the paramedics enter our tiny living-room. The paramedics rush my mother into the ambulance as my grandmother arrives and accompanies her. My sisters cling to the stretcher, screaming, and not even Tanty Rosie can calm them. My grandmother is crying while the ambulance speeds off; sirens blaring once again. I run after them, but they do not see me.

I turn back and search for Tanty Rosie among the crowd. The gathering is much larger than the previous occasions when my father had gone out of control. Tanty Rosie is sitting with my sisters on a makeshift bench under the mango tree in our front yard, surrounded by others. Their faces are all somber. One officer walks up to her so I wait nearby.

“Is you who call?” asks the officer.

Tanty Rosie nods. “They father quarelling whole morning.”

“You know why?” The officer jots down some notes.

She shrugs. “He have a temper ever since I know him, and he was in the mad house a few times. He does always beat them children for nothing. Whenever they mother try to part she does get licks too. He never even send them to school.”

“What about the boy?” The officer gestures towards the house. “Garvin is he name?”

They’re talking about me. Why?

“He was like my own son and never disrespect nobody. Anytime he get a chance he used to come by me and watch TV. He say how he father going and put electricity just now and he go buy a TV for them. He was real excited about that.” Tanty Rosie’s voice breaks. “He tell me how he father make a bat for them to play cricket, so last week I give him money to buy a ball.”

“You see which way he father gone?”

“I was cooking lunch so I didn’t come out.” Tanty Rosie shakes her head. “Just last week he beat they mother and chase she down the road, and she was hiding by me. She whole body still blue-black. I hope all you find him because he’s a wicked man!”

“We go find him, Trinidad is a small place.” The officer closes his notebook.

A hearse pulls up. Two men exit. They are wearing long white coats and gloves. I follow them inside our house.

“I can’t believe a man could do this to he own child!” The first one speaks.

“Some men not fit to be parents,” the other replies.

“I sure this boy not more than fourteen,” the first one adds. “He didn’t have a chance.”

I step closer and see the lifeless body laying battered and bruised in a pool of blood. Flesh is protruding from the gaping wound at the side of the head. The cricket bat is thrown a few feet away; it is split in two. The men in white shift the body onto its back and into a white bag. I recognize my cotton t-shirt and drop to my knees when I see my vacant eyes staring back at me. One of the men moves his palm over my face and closes my eyes.


Vashti Bowlah is a writer from Trinidad and Tobago, and a participant of The Cropper Foundation/UWI Creative Writers' Residential Workshop. Her short stories, articles and poems have appeared in newspapers, journals and anthologies, and she continues to pursue her passion for writing, with special focus on the short story. She has won prizes and awards for her writing, including The David Hough Literary Prize awarded by The Caribbean Writer. She also freelances as an editor/proofreader. She can be reached at


Amar Rambadhan said...

Well done the suprising ending was very unexpected.

Unknown said...

This was unexpected but great writing.

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