This flash fiction story first appeared in the February 2009 issue of the ezine (since discontinued) Fictionville.

One, two, three Red Light! It was Jimmy’s favorite game. Whenever he was with his playmates he insisted on playing that game. He was only five years old, but he was good at it. The others would be in a line about twenty or so feet away while he leaned against the wall his eyes closed against his arm. When he turned shouting “Red Light,” he always caught someone still moving, and they would be out. No one ever got close enough to tag him and take his place.

But this was not a game today. He knew as soon as his Mom’s friend Paul came in the door that it would not be a good day. Whenever Paul had that smell on his breath bad things happened. Today was no different and the yelling and shoving started almost immediately. Amid the yelling, and after the second shove, as his Mom was falling over the coffee table and onto the couch, she caught his eye and yelled at him, “Jimmy, go to your room.” He ignored her command, as she cowered beneath Paul’s hulking figure. Instead he put his arm over his eyes and counted to himself “One, two, three Red Light,” turning his head around to look directly at Paul. But Paul’s attack continued, the slaps reining down on his Mom.

Jimmy turned again, hiding his eyes, concentrating harder. “One, two, three,” delaying a little bit this time, then snapping his head around, “Red Light!” Still Paul continued now closed fists pumping as Jimmy’s Mom turned from screaming to whimpering. Jimmy again hid his eyes and went deeper with his concentration. He paused as he focused all his energy toward his task. He counted more slowly this time, setting his mind on each internal word, empowering each one with his will, “One…two…three,” he silently chanted to himself, his head now aching, throbbing with each word. He furrowed his brow, concentrating with all his might and fighting through his increasing headache, timing his next move to maximize his concentration. He snapped his head as fast as he could, his eyes blazing at Paul, Red Light,he screamed in his head.

Paul’s fist stopped cocked in mid air. He looked like a life size action figure, no part of him was moving. Jimmy’s headache began to subside as a thin line of blood trickled from his nose down his upper lip toward his spreading smile.

The End

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