Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Happy little family

It's started. The tone, the words- fast dartlike, have started. Deeper, harder to ignore. On guard! I'm small again.

The longer I stay away, the more I forget. The sharp edges blur out, splinters sanded with time. I remember myself though. Angry to own my childhood. My cruel, fast tongue, my prickliness. Stubborn hate for everything he did, or said.
Sweet, divine-smelling mother, gentle, soft, warm. I knew, from old-enough to know, that she was with him unhappily, there for me... for my sake only. A terrible, accidental pregnancy, from one brief encounter- damn snowstorms!
My birth ended the happy life of my mothers.
A martyr by desire, I've never seen anyone take that role as willingly, as addicted as me, she is to that feeling. I see it now, finally.
Dad screaming. Locked outside the house. His angry, throbbing face. At first. Then crying, wheedling, bribing.
"I'll buy you anything you want, if you tell her not to leave me."
"No!"
Packing fast, trying to outdrive him.
Sharing a small bed in a spare bedroom of someone I'd never met. Someone, anyone, he didn't know. Hiding. The strange smells of their house. Doilies. Oiled wood. Whispered adult conversations. Children trying to be nice to me, following parental commands.
And then, always, the phone call. I'd beg her not to.
Him raging down the line.
Him buttery, lovely, flowers sprayed with perfume.
I knew 'Jekyll and Hyde' as a description of my father, long before I knew it as a novel.
Days and more days not going to school. I couldn't go, he'd be there. Ready to follow us. Or steal me.
Like an ice-cream in the hot sun, it didn't take mum long. Maybe even just one meeting in person. Me, the bargaining chip, the suitcase fat with 20s, left alone at the aquaintance's house.
The dinner always tasted strange that night. Waiting. Feeling it about to happen. Like the mugginess, before the rain. I'd try to fork things into my little mouth, vegetables cut differently, un-motherlike. She would never serve both cauilflower and broccoli, together in one meal! How gauche. I chewed and chewed, delaying each desperate swallow.
And then, my eyes zigzagging down page after page of Judy Blume, thinking "don't do it!" blind to the words in front of me, the strange dinner clogged in my bowels with dread. The happy engine of her car would pull my head up from the pillow. Her footsteps telling me everything I needed to know. I gathered our things, wearily, still pyjamaed. We were going home. For my sake. She would stay with this horrible man because it was best for me. A child needs both parents etc. fucking etc.

And then, when I was almost old enough to free her, 8, still persistantly encouraging her freedom, guiltily witnessing her sacrifice, day in day out, I hated him more than she did. On behalf of her. I couldn't smile at his jokes, enjoy a meal made with his hands, he was the jailor, the high wall blocking out the sky.
That year, she had another baby. And so it all began again. "He needs a father. A boy needs his father."

The ultimate sacrifice, your life. But I didn't want her life! My beautiful little mother, she could have had any man, done anything, been happy. Was she scared? A masochist, like her daughter. And so it goes.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Beautiful details as always and certainly a deep understanding into the roots of sadness. Lovely, smart post, Tui!

9:29 AM  
Anonymous mary mary said...

Yea cylces can be the weirdest and hardest of fucking manacles to get out of. I am so fr removed from both my parents it's hard for me to believe I am from the same gene pool. But then I'll feel this all too familiar expression manifest on my face and I'll know without a doubt..we are connected.

Scary shit...so yes we must be true to the self..even if that truth is illegal..tortuous and a right pain in the ass. It beats he alternative.

Or so think I

Welcome home and an inspired 2007.
x

4:27 PM  

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