Waking, I have a severe headache, I’ve had one for weeks. I get out of bed, and get dressed, gather my things, hop in the car, go pick up Mom, help her into the car, and away we go again.
Arriving at the entrance, I walk her in, get her into a wheelchair, park the car three blocks away, and run back to her. I push her down the hall with the artwork, and leave her in the care of the nurse with smiley faces on the fluorescent tie-dyed uniform.
Sitting in the waiting room, I crochet, trying to finish the blanket that I started for Mom when this whole mess began. Double, double, double, double, skip two, double, double, double, double, three doubles…. Until finally my hands are stiff, my finger callused, and my eyes now tired begin to close.
I can still see his old blue, and rusty Oldsmobile slowly pull into the driveway as I awoke from that long fixated gaze. The sound of the gravel resonated through the entire house as it was being flicked up, and tossed by the turning wheels of his car. I jumped up, and briskly paced around the room, nervously pulling down on the bottom seam of my shirt, and pushing back my neatly brushed hair. Regaining my composure, I focused on what I was about to say. Finally, the doorbell rang. As I opened the door, leaning against the door frame stood my drunken father about to fall forward on top of me, with a smug smile on his red face. The tears started to well up in my eyes, but I forced them away, took a deep breath, and without a second thought I loudly said:
“Dad, I can’t believe you. You’re drunk. What are you thinking? Driving all the way out here? You think I’m going to go with you? Like this?”
My father stood upright, and under his breath, stinking of scotch, he mumbled
“Fine - don’t come with me…I’ll just drive home by myself.” His words were slurred. He stood for a moment as if frozen, waiting for his body to follow his mind’s instructions to turn, and walk away. The lapse in time for him to react truly reflected how terribly drunk he was. His eyes were glazed over with a cloudy film, and blood shot. He made me so angry, he wasn’t even looking me in the eye. Then turning slowly, scraping his shoulder alongside the stone exterior of the house, he staggered down the front steps, almost falling onto the concrete. Surely he’d be scraped, and bruised tomorrow. As he continued windingly down the path, his body slumped, and in clothes that he had probably worn all week, I felt sickened. How could he really be my father?
I didn’t know what to do. Smart enough to know better than to drive with him in his state, I thought: what about all the other cars on the road? What if he killed someone - a whole family, an old lady? I couldn’t live with that. And, as astonishing as it was, I also loved him too much to let him go, and I was unable to bare the thought that I might lose him. Like my mother, I wanted desperately to help him, even if he was beyond all help, and even though I knew I couldn’t change him. Upon any opportunity in the past however, I was eager to try to save him, and change him, and each time I failed, miserably. Wiser than my years, I knew better.
However, I was only twelve years old. I should have stopped right there, ran back into the house, picked up the phone, and called the police. But instead, I ran after him. I pulled open the beat up passenger side door, and threw myself into the filthy seat. Before I could even put on my seatbelt, my dad had slammed on the gas, was darting out the driveway, and onto the highway. I was scared.
“Dad, pull over!” I yelled. But he didn’t hear me. He looked so angry. He was starring straight ahead, and driving way too fast.
“Pull over!” I screamed. The tears were now pouring out of my eyes.
“You’re going to kill someone!” I exclaimed, but my demands went unanswered.
Forcing myself to a calm, I quietly said, “we could die” as I gently pulled on the sleeve of his plaid, worn shirt. Tears continued to pour down off my face. But his firm grip didn’t loosen off the stirring wheel, his knuckles were white as he squeezed the wheel with all of his strength. He was in an entirely different world, and had no idea that I was even sitting there, right beside him.
The expression on his face frightened me. A memory of that exact same face now displays in my mind.
I was tucked into the top bunk of my bunk beds when I heard my mom, and dad yelling at each other, again. I can picture the view from atop those bunks looking past my flowery comforter, and past my lilac coloured room, whose colour had darkened in the evening light. Streaming from the hallway came a path of light, and the loudening voices. I was used to hearing them yell at each other, it happened almost every day. Mom was always mad at him because of his drinking. Even at four years old, I knew it wasn’t normal to see my father passed out on the couch, sometimes even before supper.
Tonight the yelling was really bad. It normally slowly came to a calm with mom storming off into her room, and the door slamming shut. Instead it kept escalating, and I sat up straight in my bed to listen to the fight. My father’s voice was full of anger, then it escalated to rage. I tightly clasped onto my blankets, and to my doll, Nina. He began to yell so loudly that he was gasping for breaths. I had never heard my father get this angry before. He was a quiet man, never yelling at me - no matter how mad he was.
All of a sudden there was silence. Normally that would assure me that the fight was over, but tonight something was different. Tonight the silence struck me with fear. I climbed down from my bed, and ran to the kitchen. It was as if by mere instincts I was being driven forward, knowing something was terribly wrong. I’ll never forget what I saw, ever.
My father was on top of my mother, with his legs on either side of her waist, holding her neck between his strong, tensed hands, and banging her head violently on the floor, over, and over, and over again. Her head was beating down on the floor like a drum. He was going to kill her. I ran over to him, and without even thinking, I’m not sure if it was out of fear, or desperation, but
I crouched down on the floor, and bit his ankle so hard that he let out a loud piercing scream. He let go of my mother instantly, and jumped up. In one swoop, he picked me up, and carried me across the room, opened the garage door, and dropped me on to the cold cement floor.
I never beat on anything as hard as I beat on that door. And I never screamed louder than I screamed for him to let me in. It seemed like forever that I stood outside that door. I didn’t know if my mother was alive or dead.
“She’s all done now. She did well today,” says the nurse in the green frog print uniform. Bringing myself back to reality, I put my crocheting in my bag, take Mom’s arm, and help her into the wheelchair. I push her down the hall covered with the art work, to the door.
“I’ll be right back Mom. Try to rest.” I say, as I walk out the door, and run to the car. The cool breeze hits my face. All I can hear is the sound of my feet beating down on the pavement. I pick up my mom, take her home, and go home myself.
The next day, I get up, and do the same. Sitting down in the waiting area, I get out my crocheting, and continue to work on her blanket. It’s white, and I think it has a heavenly design.
I hope I can finish it on time. A half hour passes, I’m tired again, and I close my eyes.
I remember waiting in that garage for what seemed like forever. The door flew open, and I fell inside the house. But it wasn’t my father I saw, it was my mom. She grabbed me, and quickly ran with me in her arms to the car, putting me inside, and handing me the seatbelt, signaling me to buckle up.
“I’ll be right back. Don’t move,” she said. I didn’t move, or breath. I sat, starring at the door., wondering if I’d ever see her again.
The next time I saw my mother, it was when she came flying out onto the cement floor of the garage face first. My father kicked her in the tail bone so hard, that for the rest of her life she would have bladder problems, and severe lower back pain, but that was the least of her concerns. We got away, we were safe now, and we were both alive.
So when my mom told me that my parents couldn’t be together any more, that was ok. In fact, I thanked God that they weren’t together any more, and that I still had my mom here to look after me.
I remember, with all my heart sitting in that car, I wished Mom was with me, to get us all out of that terrifying situation. She would have know what to do, she probably wouldn’t have gotten into the car in the first place.
The car swerved back and forth along the road, flirting with the center line. I wondered if these would be the last few moments of my life. I felt totally helpless. Then as the car veered too close to the left, an on-coming truck honked his horn at us. But it didn’t even phase my father. He continued to stare out the windshield, at what I don’t know.
Again, I tried to think of what I could do, but found myself now totally overwhelmed with a fear that was simply paralyzing. Like a dream, I could vaguely see another oncoming car abruptly jerk to the side, and just miss us by traveling half on the gravel shoulder of the road. I sat there in a daze, with my eyes fixed on the road, tears streaming down onto my chest. The car was now completely over the center line, and we were going around a bend. I closed my eyes praying that another car wasn’t coming around the corner, imagining.
I would never see the car that hit us. My father stands over my coffin at my funeral, and promises to never take another drink again. He lives the rest of his life sober, but alone, in a deep depression, unable to face what he did.
I open my eyes quickly, and all of a sudden as if by some saving grace, I know exactly what to do to avoid the crash. As soon as the passenger side door opens, my father’s unwavering stare is broken, his attention finally no longer concentrated into total nothingness, and he looks over at me, panicked.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m getting out, you’re crazy, I want out” I said.
“Shut the door, the cars moving” he barked.
“I want you to stop right now, or I’ll jump out, and it will be your fault if I get hurt.” I said severely, and I meant it.
“Get in, get in.” he urged, as the car began to slow, gradually moving to the side of the road. I still kept the car door open. Just then a big transport came sailing around the corner a little on our side of the road. I could feel the immense gust of wind. I began to tremble, and started bawling my eyes out, knowing that just as I had imagined, in an instant, we could have died. The car was now completely stopped, and my father was sitting slouched in silence, looking down at his lap, his mouth slightly open, and eyes wanting to close. Rage filled me. How could he be so irresponsible, so stupid!?
“Are you out of your mind! We could have been killed!” my voice echoed from its’ intensity. I never knew I could get so mad.
“Dad, get out of the car.” I demanded.
My father looked up at me with a blank stare on his face, about to cry and with his shivering lips quietly he whispered “I’m sorry.”
He got out of the car obediently, and walked around the hood of the vehicle, using it for balance.
Climbing into the passenger side, with a clunk he fell into the seat, and he began to weep. I’d never driven a car before. I learnt quickly - I had to.
When we arrived at his house, I darted up to my bedroom, and sat in anger on my cat-hair covered, mismatched bedding thinking about what I wanted to say to my father once he sobered up. Downstairs, he passed out in his ratty old green, fake leather armchair, snoring.
That was Chapter Three, of the story. I will post the next Chapter in a day, or two. All the Chapters will be available along the sidebar as I post them.
I would love some feedback, good or bad.
Thank you for reading along with the story.