Donna couldn’t help but stop shouting when she heard a crash from downstairs. She and Scott were fighting. Again. They were fighting like they always fought, by shouting at each from across the room. It was her turn, when they heard the crash, and it took them out of the moment. It ruined a perfectly good fight about who was supposed to walk the dog they didn’t even have yet.
“Are you going to check that?” she asked Scott.
“Why should I have to do?” he snapped.
She glared at him. It was a practised glare. “Because,” she told him matter-of-factly, “It could be a burglar, and I don’t want to die tonight.”
“So I have to go?” He scowled when she shrugged, heading for the door. “If we had a dog, it would be coming with me. I’d need it more than you right now.” He closed the door behind him before she could argue.
He crept down the stairs. He had practiced this creep for months, to stop Donna complaining that his quote-unquote drinking problem was keeping her up at night. He felt less nervous as he headed into the darkness of the downstairs. The whole house was quiet from here, and he turned on a light. “It’s just a frame, Donna,” he called up the stairs. She walked down slowly after him, looking at it sceptically. “What do you think happened?”
“Loose nail?” She picked up the frame and checked the wall, and immediately her first theory fell apart. “Okay, so this is just weird. Did you get me drunk?”
“You’re still standing. What do you think?” Scott looked at the frame closely. “Smashed. There’s no way we’re hanging that back up, again. If the neighbours don’t already think we’re white trash, I don’t think this will help.”
“Oh, there you go again!” Donna moaned, and the house creaked around them. The floorboards groaned, the windows shook in their frames, and every picture in the house fell from the walls. A resounding smash silenced the couple completely, barely a gulp out of them.
Scott signalled for Donna to follow him to the front door. He walked silently. She did not. “Can’t you at least tip toe?” he asked her. The house shivered, and she hushed him. It did not still the movement in the building. He let out a sigh, reaching for the handle. “If this were a horror movie, the door wouldn’t open,” he said jokingly.
“Don’t you even dare jinx that,” she replied.
Grimacing, bracing himself for the worst, Scott pulled on the handle. He let out a sigh of relief when the door opened, and despite a chill in the air, he was glad for a draft of air rushing into the house. “That went well,” he said with a grin on his face. “You looked so worried, there.”
“Me? What about you, Mister ‘If This Were A Horror Movie’? Mister ‘I’ll Take the Dog For Safety And Leave Donna All Alone’?”
“Are you really going to bring that up, now?” he asked her. “Are you really that petty that you bring up a hypothetical pet, again, despite the glass all around our feet? Really, Donna? That’s what you want to do?”
She glared at him, all of her anger going into that glare. She felt a scream rising in her throat from the acidic pit of her stomach, and the door slammed shut.
“You did that,” she insisted, and the floor shook underneath her. She fell to her floor, Scott landing on top of her. In their struggled to get to their feet, each placed a hand on glass. “Christ!” Donna screamed. She looked at the blood gushing from her hand in worry, ignoring Scott’s blubbering. The house continued to groan around them, wooden beams snapping in the floorboards and in the walls, blood dripping into the cracks from the distraught couple.
They held each other – and neither could remember the last time that had happened – as they entered the kitchen, walking carefully towards the back door. Glass littered the floor, but it was worse than that. It flew in each direction across the house. It smashed against walls, creating smaller shards. Pipes burst, through walls and cupboards, and open, throwing water into the cyclone of glass and wood and plates that threw itself back and forth.
“Why is this happening, Scott?” Donna asked him.
“How am I supposed to know? Do I look like an expert in all things Bat-Shit Crazy?” The gas-fire lit up, through dancing flames across the room. The fire exploded into a shape that could only be described as vaguely human, before disappearing into a cloud of steam as the water wound its way back over to that side of the room.
Across the kitchen, another figure took on a brief and fiery existence, waving what looked like an arm as the cutlery drawer unleashed its contents at the opposite wall. Back and forth the contents of the kitchen flew, fire and water, glass and plates and silverware, splinters of wood and pieces of loose tile, and finally Donna couldn’t muster any anger at Scott. There wasn’t enough room in her head for anger at her drunk of a husband and fear for his life.
“I’ve just had a thought,” she mumbled, and he looked at her sharply. “I’m worried about you.”
“About me?” he asked. His face went blank, and she knew he had not been expecting that.
“I guess… I don’t want you to get hurt.” She smirked, and it felt unnatural on her face. Neither of them noticed the water splashing to the floor, or the fire dying down, and it took them several minutes to realise that the chill in the air around them was a result of the back door swinging open. They held uninjured hands as they stumbled outside.
Two screams burst into the night, breaking every window. Donna kissed Scott, and it was the happiest she’d felt with him in years.
This story was written using this photo as a prompt: http://writingpromptphotos.tumblr.com/post/75916197652/a-broken-frame-photo-copyright-2013-paul