What can you do when the world turns its back on you?
The dark outside his eyes, shut tight, helped the dark inside him stay. It was a tight knot of anger, growling and grumbling in his tummy, and he held tight to it with his inside-head hands. He wasn’t letting go.
He could hear footsteps going thump-thump-thump somewhere else, outside his head, outside the dark. Far away now, then close. Far away. Close.
It just wasn’t fair! It was stupid and he was stupid and smelly and mean!
His fingers curled into fists, balling fabric in his hands, and he felt tears pricking his eyes. Tugging his fortress, his dark, further over his head, he scrunched himself tighter to keep the dark from leaking out through the loose places. His bare toes curled at the touch of cool air and he pulled his knees closer to his chest, bringing his feet towards the warmth of his anger.
It was a pointy thing, his anger, he decided. Sharp and sort of sick-making. It didn’t feel good to keep it squeezed up tight in his belly, in the dark of his head. But he didn’t want to let it go.
His world lurched and tilted and he kicked at the person who had stolen what was his. He took the prickly, spiky bundle of frustration and imagined it flying with his feet, sticking into his target with every kick, every blow. It was red and orange and it hurt the other person, made them sorry, made them give it back!
But it didn’t, not really.
Instead he felt his darkness pulled back, felt strong arms wrap around him. He kept his eyes shut tight, squeezing them so no light could get in. Even if the outside dark was gone, his inside dark was still there.
His eyes flew open with surprise and he shrieked and wriggled. Frantically, he tried to hold onto his anger, burying it deep in his stomach, in his head. But hot tears let it fly away from his brain, prickly and sharp like the anger they held, and his daddy’s tickling fingers seemed to find all the hidden dark in his belly and unravel it, take it away like it had never been there. His cries of anger melted into laughter as the light streamed into his head through his eyes and chased the dark away, no matter how hard he tried to stop it.
And no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t find even a scrap of the anger or the dark, even if daddy was still horrible and mean and unfair.
A small, soft bundle of fluff and fur was held out to him with a smile, and the dark hid away as he cried with glee and hugged Terry the rabbit to his chest. He smelled fresh and like soap and detergent - softer than ever, his brown fur gone white again, and maybe daddy wasn’t quite as mean now. Maybe still a little bit, but he’d given Terry back, hadn’t stolen him away forever, so maybe he could only be angry with him a little bit.
Maybe he could be angry with daddy tomorrow, but today was bright and smelled like soap.