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Take me far, far away
He placed his hand on the small of my back as we made our way through the crowd. I hate this time of year, the snow, the crowds, the alcohol; Christmas time is the worst. On the other hand, it’s the best time for fashion. Easier to wear long sleeves and long pants, because that’s what everyone else is wearing, no one questions you. You know, when you’re 14, you just want to fit in, and you just want to be normal. But the truth is I’m not normal. As we wander through the mall my father has his deceiving smile on, where he makes the world, including me believe that we’re a normal father-daughter family. We are happy and everything is just amazing. The worst part is that everyone believes it.
We walk in and out of little shops, not really looking at anything, just moving silently through the day. Christmas is not only hard on me I think it’s harder on my father. Christmas means another year without a mother for me, another year without a loving wife for my dad. We always pick up a small ornament of some kind for my mother to put on the tree, I think it’s just to keep the memory alive for both of us. This year it’s the word love, written all fancy in gold. I don’t really know if the word applies to our household, but I go with it. That is the only thing we buy, it is the last store we go in, it is now a race to the car, the whole way I drag my feet.
The only good part about this season is that we are out of the house a lot; we are in crowds all the time, which means I am safe. In public he acts like the perfect dad, but when we get home, the rage of my mistakes takes hold. I don’t really know what I do wrong, but it must be pretty bad because he gets really mad. The holes in my walls and the cracks in all my furniture are proof of my wrong doing. When I’m home I dream of our adventures out in the world, when life is perfect and humane in every way.
Even from the car to the house he’s nice, because he doesn’t want the neighbors to get suspicious. He closes the door behind him, as I make the dash to my room, hoping to get the door locked before he gets back there. I feel his hand on my shoulder as my foot steps into the room.
“I just want you to help me put the ornament on the tree, Elizabeth” he whispers in my ear. I turn slowly, as if I were being held at gun point, I might as well have been.
While sitting on the floor in my t-shirt, I see every bruise, every cut, every memory played out on my pale, discolored skin. We sit in silence beside each other on the floor, for what seems days, but it was merely minutes. In this house silence is good; silence is what my ears long for most of the time. But slowly he stands up; he turns and looks at me. I brace myself, waiting for his hand to make contact with my skin. But it doesn’t, nothing happens. I look up to see his hand out stretched, waiting for me. He helps me to my feet, and I make my way back to my room, leaving him alone.
With the door locked, I feel a sense of comfort, false comfort, but comfort nonetheless. I know that it will take him a little bit longer, long enough for me to make a dash to the closet. However an eerie silence settles over the house sending chills through my veins. I picture my father, passed out on the couch, but then the scent of canned spaghetti fills my room. The fragrance of the grey noodles and orange tomato sauce stings my nostrils. I can’t remember the last time I had a real meal. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I ate.
As the sunlight fades from my window, the shadows start dancing under my door. The footsteps that go from one side of my door to the other, I realize they are more stumbles then actual steps. I close my eyes and see my father in his sweats holding a bottle of Jack, like a normal person would hold a baby. This is my comic relief to the reality that awaits the chance to bust down my door. I look around my room in the dull twilight and realize it’s rather plain. My pale, bare hospital blue walls, with my eccentric purple curtains and my broken full length mirror, a crack going right down the center. I spend about thirty minutes each morning in front of it, trying to get my three dollar concealer to cover every yellow green bruise on my face. And my walk in closet, which is about the size of a coffin, at least that’s the way it feels. But my queen size bed, that’s the best part of my whole room, I’m not real sure why I have it but its nice, a personal luxury.
I can taste the tension in the air, it tastes like stale tobacco smoke and canned spaghetti. I know soon, when the moon is visible in my window that the door will come crashing down and there he will stand in his stained sweats and the rage in his eyes. But for now, I wait while the anticipation eats away at my sanity.
I can almost feel his hands running down the walls of the hall as he stumbles back. This is something I have felt too many times in my life, something that a father should never do. I know what’s coming, but I just remember him helping me up earlier and hope to God that man is still there. I can’t make my legs move, to make my dash to the closet. My blood is in a race around my body, leaving my head empty and alone. I just sit here, in the corner of my room, hoping that this is just my imagination is running wild. A new noise rings, the jingle of keys, and I realize the lock is no longer a friend of mine, but a trader of the lowest kind. When he turns the door knob it’s like he’s twisting my arm. I feel every move he makes from the other side of the room.
The door swings open, casting a bright yellow light on the 3 corners that are visible in the doorway. I am drenched in this yellow light, I feel like a deer caught in headlights, I can’t move, I can’t breathe, I can’t think. As I sit there, my knees in my chest, he stands in the door way looking at me with these disapproving eyes. I’ve never seen this, the rage is missing, but disapproval is in place. What is he disapproving?
“What do you think you’re doing?” he drops the empty glass bottle, “Why are you sitting there?” he stumbles into my room, I think this is more on accident then purpose. “Are you going to talk or just stare at this beauty?”
“What do you want me to do?” Oh goodness, where did that come from?
“Get up!” he yells, stumbling back into the hall, I think he meant to do that. “Get up, Sharon” I can’t believe he just called me by my mother’s name. “Elizabeth, sorry, Elizabeth, Get up!”
I force my body weight to the heels of my feet, using the wall as a brace I shove my body upward, standing shouldn’t be this much work. When I am finally vertical, I feel like I’m on a tilt-a-whirl. I slowly make my first move, careful not to collapse. I am at the doorway when he grabs my wrists and pulls me along, like I am a dog on a leash. I want to protest, but I just don’t have the strength. I am hungry, I am tired, and my will power has disappeared. He finally releases my wrists in the living room and stumbles over to the couch where he collapses. He just stares at me, and I think that’s worse than being hit and being yelled at. I hear the sneering comments going through his mind, the judgments he’s throwing around. Things a father should never think of his daughter, his offspring.
I stand on the rug in the middle of the living room; I feel the bristle like threads, which I suppose were soft at one point, on my toes. I feel nothing else but this carpet, I think I can actually feel the pattern the more I stand here. Finally he stands; he takes a step towards me. I cringe a bit, always thinking the worst, but he doesn’t touch me, I’m not even sure he sees me.
His hand slowly touches my arm, and I feel a shiver run wild through my body. What is he going to do? He looks deep in my eyes for what seemed an eternity. Then he just turned around, and walked back to the couch.
“What do you think I should do with you?” he said with this voice, like this question had been haunting him his whole life. “What good are you? You are nothing,” he thinks he knows everything. He thinks he is so superior to me.
“I am your daughter” is the only thing that came out of my mouth. What a stupid thing to say. I shutter away from looking at him, scared he’ll take it as an opportunity to lash out.
“My daughter?” he scoffed, “My daughter is a worthless excuse.” The words stung me more than any hand or belt could ever.
I just stood there, frozen in time. Looking at him, looking at my protector, my guardian, a tear fell from my eye, unwillingly. He laughed; my pain was some sick twisted game to him, so I forced my eyes away from this awful excuse of a father After what seem to be a lifetime of staring at this filthy old rug, I looked up at this man, the man I called a father. But all I saw was the swirling glass bottle, slowly moving toward me. The contents where making designs as it hit the wall, the carpet, everything, but yet I don’t move, I can’t move. This liquid drenches my clothes, and my skin absorbs all of it. The stench tells me the secrets of the content, I believe at one point it was beer, but more has been added, his own mixed drink; his own escape.
When I came to, the sun is shining, and my father is no longer in the room. How long have I been laying here? What happened? I try to sit up, but my body aches, each move hurts more than the last. But I am finally sitting up, as I look around I see a trashed room, it looks like we have been robbed. As I move I feel like my body has been torn in two. When I force my body to stand I see every new bruise, I am only blue and purple. When I take a step, it feels like I am standing on glass. I look at my foot, and there is a bone sticking out of the skin, he has gone too far this time.
I drag myself over to the couch, and sink down into the cushions. My mind is clouded with this thick, grey mess of pain. But one thought breaks its way through, and bounces in and out of sight again and again. I keep trying to push it away, out of sight. ‘Maybe, on this couch, it will all end. My life will end on this couch.’ Really, I shouldn’t think like that, I need to be optimistic. It’s just so hard to look on the bright side when there is no bright side.
The clinking of glass bottles lets me know that I am not alone. Fear takes over every fiber of my being, shaking my limbs. This reaction is far beyond my control, there is no stopping the raging beast inside of me. My father descends from the hall, his eyes blood shot and a mix of emotions covering his face. He looks around the room, and then his eyes fall on me on the couch. I feel my heart shatter as his ice cold blue eyes pierce right through my body. He walks slowly towards me, and then I realize he is already dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt.
“Where are you going?” I ask with this weak voice, a voice I am so use to.
But, he says nothing, and just scoops me up in his arms. I lay limp in his arms, no strength left to do anything but wait to see what he does. We stop at the bottom of the stairs, he tells me to grab the keys off the hook, and I do as he says hoping to delay what he’s planning. The door flies open making me shiver and he grins a bit, making my eyes water with pain. Every inch of my body aches in this cold winter weather, but it looks as though he can’t feel the cold. We drive along, he doesn’t ever look at me, yet I don’t mind that he doesn’t.
“You fell down the stairs” he says without even a glance toward me.
“When did I do that?” I can’t remember falling down the stairs. The only stairs we have are the ones that go to the front door.
“You really didn’t, but that’s what we’re going to tell them.” His confidence sickens me. How can he just lie like that? “You must stick to this story this time. You almost messed it up last time. How hard is it just to stick to the story?” his rage is out of control but I just sit and nod like this is nothing.
I hope one day these nurses realize, this was no accident, they were never accidents.