Broken by William L. Alton

She sits in the kitchen with her mystery novels, her coffee and her cigarettes. Her children play in the yard, digging holes in the grass and throwing dirt over each other. Sunlight angles in through the window, hard and white. A box fan moves the heavy air. She is lonely and sad, but there is nothing for it. She works impossible hours, leaving her kids alone at night to tend bar down the street. They’re old enough to fend for themselves. Each month she pays her rent with pain and fear. Each month she wonders if she’ll make enough to cover the lights and water. She would like to be in love again, but men scare her now. Three times she’s given herself away. Three times she’s had to hide from the rain of knuckles and boots. She knows how to smile, but her eyes are always narrow now, watching the way people’s hands move. Her skin is pulled tight around her eyes and shoulders. Her nerves lie close to the surface. She startles easily now. When she sleeps she dreams of living in a tent with her first husband. She dreams of the smell of beer and chewing tobacco. She wakes with tears in her eyes. Maybe she’ll feel safe when her kids are grown. Maybe then the sound of someone walking on the porch won’t flash along her spine.


About the Author:
William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned both his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live. You can find him at