It is approaching eleven pm and the night has brought a supposed peace upon the house. He looks around and ahead of him is another two hours work. The washing has mounted up, and it’s not so easy to understand when you consider the six kids providing multiple pairs of underwear alone.
He enjoys the solitude, its marks such a change from the violence he endured in hours previous when it was pointed out how much of a lazy bastard he was, how neglectful he was as a father and how a man like him was a waste of space as a husband.
He knows that if he doesn’t get this job done, he’ll suffer another round of abuse and that he can’t let happen as the humiliation in front of his children is overwhelming.
He grabs another single sock and adds it to the pile of similar socks all alone in the world, a little like himself.
As he works late into the night he is aware of the sleeping children in nearby rooms, children he loves beyond words from whom he protects, with at times questionable courage, from the ravages of the household monster.
He knows that tomorrow he will feel shit from a lack of sleep but if a semblance of peace and harmony comes from this job he is prepared to sacrifice for them.
A small child appears bleary-eyed, stands looking at him as he folds and unites long lost socks. She asks why he is still up. He replies he is doing all the fold ups so she and her siblings will have clean clothes to wear. She nods and heads to the toilet. On her return, she suggests he get some sleep as he has work in the morning. He nods in agreement, kisses her forehead before pointing her in the direction of her bed.
Once she is settled, he gets on with his job. He is aware of the pain in his forearm the legacy of the evening’s attack. The vacuum had been clogged, and he was sitting on the floor trying to unclog it when she attacked with the dismantled vacuum wand as her weapon.
He has noted that when she attacks, the children flee. He later learns they huddle on their beds, the youngest ones holding each other.
He looks at the task ahead of him, one basket done, one to go, he feels the task is impossible, his eyes are sore from being out of bed, he knows he should be resting, he works hard and long each day. But right now, his priority is his children.
By two am the baskets are empty and around him are piles of children’s clothes, which in the morning before work he will distribute around the house.
He crawls into a bed in the back room. His head hits the pillow, and he knows he has to up by first light before the monster awakes.