Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Extinguished

I am 12 years old.  My family has moved into the summer camp on the lake.  School is out, the days are warm and I am looking forward to long days in the water and sun.  I get a lot more time to myself here and sometimes my step father is fun to be around at the communal dock where his brothers hang out after work and on their days off.  He smiles more and my mother picks berries by their summer season and lets us steal them from her measuring cups when she is making pies.  This summer will be the best ever because my step father doesn't want me to touch him as often.  He likes to look at the younger children who play near the docks.


My room is on the upper floor, just across the way from theirs.  My brother has to sleep in a room on the lowest floor when he is here.  I don't see him much and I don't like it down there for it's spiders and dust.  The walls here are only partitions- there is no sound barrier and not much privacy.  I am enjoying my space as I am rushing up the stairs, just in from the last swim of the day.  My parents are still at the dock saying there goodnights to family and friends.  Everybody adores my step father. 


 I want to get out of my wet suit.  I am so thin that the cold has turned me grey.  The skin on my hands and feet are monkey-like with wrinkles. My lips are slick and lavender, like a corpse.  My jaw loosens  as I begin to dry off and the shivering abates.  I love the feeling of my pajamas over my damp body like a cup of tepid tea spilling over my shoulders, down my chest and back and promising to eventally melt my fingers and toes.


I hear the screen door open and then slam downstairs- foot steps on the stairs.  I am rushing to get my pajamas on and am pulling the the shirt over my chest just as my mothers reflection appears in my bureau mirror.  I am ready for dinner and turn to ask her what I should do to help prepeare.  I jump when I realize she is already in my room pulling the shades like a nurse in a TV show I have seen where the patient "crashes" and everyone is rushing about in a state of emergency.  She whips them harshly and berates me for always forgetting to close them while I am changing.  She says I must want people to see me naked because it is beyond her why I do this all of the time.


I have become more brave these days.  I have felt an indignation inside of me that drives me to do things I have never done before.  I am sometimes petulant with my mother if I know my step father is not around.  I tell her no one saw me, no one is looking.  Even if they were I wouldn't care that much.  She tells me I embarrass her and goes on about how it is twilight and my lamp is on and I am perfect for viewing.  We are yelling the same old retorts at each other and getting nowhere.


The door to my room had crept shut, as it is wont to do in this lopsided place, but now it is open and I capture my breath when I see that my step father is standing there.  How long has he been there?  He has seen me being mouthy and he is fast upon me.  He has me by the arm and is rattling me, asking the same question I have always been unqualified to answer- who do I think I am?


I am a different kind of animal than I have been before- bigger and not so much to prey upon. I feel belligerent.  I have heard this question one too many times and I am starting to feel a fire in my gut that indicates that I will have the answer someday not too long from now.  Every shove, every slap, every day that he conjures up some new way to keep me in my place, I begin to budge.  As he throttles me, I hear a voice outside of me that is my mother's.  At first I am sure she is going to take up for me for the very first time since he is really pummeling me.  This feeds the smoldering tinders within me and my neck is too strong to be bent by his shaking, my body is hard and unwilling to fall apart under his grip.  It will take this mauling, but not without knowing that in my own way, I stood tall.  Besides, for once my mother is going to help me.  She tells him to stop.


She tells him to stop because the neighbors will hear.  My fire is dowsed by her words.  She doesn't care about what he is doing to me, she only cares that other people might know.  For a moment I am defeated again- a rag doll once more to be tossed and left in a heap.  But there is still a small coal that  bursts into an inferno within me and I am screaming for him to let me go, leave me alone.  My mother is frantic and pulls at his arms.  We are angles of a triangle now as she looks at me as though she has no idea who I am anymore, certainly not the ghost of a girl I once was.  She begs me, what is wrong with me?  What is my problem?


What is my problem?  I smirk at the ridiculousness of such a question and ask her if she really wants to know what my problem is as I turn my attention to my step father.  I am about to release all of my demons when a shoe, wielded by him,  cracks my face and I am knocked senseless as my body meets the window seat and the shoe, driving deep like an ax, continues to hack at me.  With each impact I am wailing as I have never before.  He is telling me to shut my mouth. We all know why.  Each assault takes a little more out of me until finally there is no more fire, no coal, not even a tinder for a spark.  It will not fall in this night, nor any night soon, that I will be letting my mother know, in no uncertain terms, what my problem is.



10 comments:

  1. I feel so defensive for you. I remember that feeling. I think most of us want to hear of something hacking at him...everyone adored him *teeth clenching* Interesting how that often is the case, isn't it? xoxo

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  2. I'm so glad that you were able to break your imposed silence eventually. J

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  3. I'm sending Darlene a link to your post - this is her blog, in case you haven't read it. J

    How Victim Mentality works in Relation to Family Secrets
    By Darlene Ouimet

    http://emergingfrombroken.com/how-victim-mentality-works-in-relation-to-family-secrets/#more-3815

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    1. Thank you! I have linked to her as a wonderful resource and she is now one of my favorite bloggers!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story, pain and healing.

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    1. Thank you for reading! Please pass it along? :)

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  5. This is excellent. I am glad your friend J. pointed it out to me. Thank you for writing this way.
    Darlene

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    1. Thank you! I am a huge fan of your blog! I hope it is okay to have linked you here? You tackle all of the issues that people ask me about. :)

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  6. So good to see you two in touch with each other. You are both inspiring women. J x

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