This is my story. Sometimes it is hard to talk about, let alone share with others but we must face our fears boldly. Together my mother and I, we are mending and in time we will heal.
The Night We Escaped the Sound
I lay in the bed blinking, dimmed moonlight cast soft shadows on the wall in our room. My sister lay asleep and I awake. I felt like I was left with the task of night watchman. My parents were out that evening and unsure of their return I would close my eyes only to rest them but not to sleep. My dreams were not really dreams more like premonitions or visions. For the past week I had envisioned different scenarios where my stepfather had killed my mother. It was always with a gun. He kept guns in the house and often they were laying on the dresser or nightstand in my parent’s bedroom. I would sit in the armchair that was pushed back into a corner, with the dresser on one side and a window on the other. I sat and watched the gun waiting for it to give me a sign of what was to come. I even would touch it wondering what my stepfather thought as he held it. Peeking behind the curtains periodically, watching for his car to pull up, I thought it would be only natural that he would use a gun to kill her.
I learned to have an acute sense of sound growing up. I listened for footsteps, jangling keys, coughs, whispers, anything that alerted me his presence was near. It was a nerve wrecking fear, one that I would sometimes rebel against.
The swish of a jacket brushing against the wall in the hallway awakened me. Hushed whimpers alerted me that something was wrong. I waited to detect the mood behind the sounds. It was uncharacteristic of his steady and heavy calculated steps, clumsy even. Keys unlocked the door and bodies tumbled into the house bumping the fish tank that stood facing the entryway into our home. He was drunk, slurring as he spoke. “I—l—o—v—v—v—e—y—o—u—u—R—o—s—i—e!” He said he would kill himself if she left. Then I heard a click. The sound reminded me of the sound you ear in those western movies, guns being cocked, the swirling barrel of a revolver. My mother began pleading for her life. I moved quietly but quickly to my top drawer. I had been preparing for this moment for weeks now. Stock piling a small arsenal of could be weapons; a hatchet, various chemical formulas good for blinding someone, kitchen knife, and a hammer. I woke my sister and motioned with my index finger for her to be quiet. I whispered to her to pray. I didn’t know how things were going to end but I was taught to pray and call on the name of Jesus when in trouble. At twelve it was all I had the name of Jesus and a hatchet.
We escaped because he passed out. It took her eleven years to get up the courage to leave. She had to face the criticism of the church. It was her fault he left the church, they would say. She could change things if she only prayed and forgave him every time he hit her, they would say. Be strong and only tell God, they would say. Stop calling the police on the man…. He wouldn’t purposely try to hurt you and the girls…. How are you going to support you and the children….. He is a good provider. Those were the things they told my mom. Thank God she didn’t listen.
I wondered how was I going to exist in the world, just be human, taste the bittersweet and not be unhinged by it all.
I run! I run wearing flaming red lipstick and a red t-shirt.
I yell to spectators, “Woman on fire, Woman with an issue of blood, Woman stained and soaked by the torrential storms of life.”
I run to my voice, I run to the words, I run to joy, I run to the light.
Oh Lord Jesus transform me, renew me, restore me.
Maybe the laughter will cover the pain!
Maybe the cake and coffee will cover my starving heart and tired soul!
Maybe the nicotine will calm my damn nerves because I don’t have any more peace!
Maybe the Vodka tonic will dull my senses so that I can’t tell the difference between depression, fear, disbelief or rage!
I am unhinged and there is nothing else to do but pray and dance.