Friday, November 20, 2009


My strength.  My balance.

"I hate you! Both of you!" I scream at my father and mother. Watching him break a chair over her back has pushed me beyond my childish reasoning. Her screaming. His rage. Broken pieces and broken children.  They didn't even know I was standing there.

With the sound of my voice, she fell quiet. He turned and fixed his eyes on me. His blackened stare makes my pajama pants warm with urine. He notices and his feet are swift. I am backing up until I feel the wall. I press my back into the wall praying to anything or anyone that I will blend in and he will lose his sight of me.

He snatches me up by my shirt and slight shoulders.  My head meets the wall but I do not disappear into its violent cracks as I had prayed.  I see the stars that my favorite cartoons show and those stars are no longer funny to me.

"Focus.  Focus on me.  Look here at my eyes."  My friend is here now.  His name is Elliot.  E-l-l-i-o-t with only one "t".

A hand cracks against my face.  Once.  Twice... his fists rain down on me.  My face... my stomach... my back.  I cannot find my Elliot.  My face is dripping hot but I am not crying.  That familiar and sickening bloody metallic taste is in my mouth.  My mouth fills with excess saliva and I know that I am about to puke.

His meaty hands snatch up my hair and I am traveling another direction.  I forget about the puking.  I frantically search for my friend and I see him running after us.  My teary eyes beg him to hurry.  I am not crying, it's just that everyones eyes water when their hair gets pulled.  I don't cry.

Down the endless hallway we go; it always feels like forever when my small feet are trying to keep up with my hair's big steps.  He opens the spare bedroom door and pushes me into a corner.  He growls at me not to move.  I don't.  I know better.

In a teary blink, he is gone.  My head throbs with pain and fear.  My life hurts me so.  I feel my friend's strong and steady fingers lace through my own trembling fingers.  I am suddenly sleepy but then I hear his heavy footsteps and then the last board in front of the door creak under his angry feet.

He has an old and wobbly stool in one hateful hand and rope in his other sadistic hand.

"Look at me.  Find my eyes.  Stay with me." my friend says.  He holds my hand as he steadies me on that wobbly stool.  I hold his hand tighter as I see my father sink into a chair to admire his handiwork.

I am shaking with fear as I feel the rope around my neck while perched perilously on that stool.  My father growls at me something about standing straight or I'll choke my lovely neck.  I step down into the corner as I watch my friend through my puffy eyes, strong and steady, balance for me. 

He winks at me as if he's telling me that we are going to be OK.  I try to wink back but my eye is winking closed all by itself.  I lay my heavy head on the floor as I shape my bloody lips into a tiny smile because I am safe when my friend is near.

Hours later for Elliot, I jolt awake as I am crashing to the floor.  That stupid old stool was just too wobbly.  The rope is still around my neck and my father is roaring with laughter.  I am a stupid little kid.  I fell for his joke he says.  My face is hot with shame as I realize that his rope was never tied to anything... but my neck.

Elliot says that my father tells bad jokes.  He's right.  If no one laughs at your joke but you then it's not funny.


Deborah said...

Powerful. Awful. And despite my supposedly nurturing nature I want to hurt him back, badly. Punish him in some way. How old were you then, Jennifer?

Cak Win said...

Well, you may be given strength by God

Shattered said...

Deborah, from what I can tell and the house this takes place in, I am around my daughters age of 5, nearly 6. This would have happened in the summer as summer was the the time that he held nothing back when hitting me; he didn't have school and marks being discovered to worry about.

Wow, as I think about it now, I would have been nearly exactly my daughter's age. No wonder this has been on my mind and in my nightmares lately. Having children is a wonderful thing but there are times that a child can draw out our deepest pain simply by being a certain age or looking a certain way.

I wish he could be punished somehow; but the older I get, the more I doubt that it will happen.

Shattered said...

Cak Win, perhaps it was strength from God. Thank you for reading. :)

Gary Eby,MSW said...

I met you on Link Referral. Your writing is excellent and I commend your honesty. You have a right to gain freedom from suffering. May you let your Light shine. Gary Eby, author and therapist.

John Folk-Williams said...

I just found this blog from your comment at Melindaville. This piece leaves me hurting - and outraged at monsters who can torture kids they should be nurturing and protecting. Your writing is so good and evocative for recreating such a terrible experience. You put us right there, and that's how we learn.

Thanks for such honesty.


Shattered said...

Gary, thank you for reading and thank you for your kind words. I do enjoy writing as it is very freeing and healing for me.

Shattered said...

John, thank you for your kind words. I can only hope that people can learn from what I share; I know I am learning more with each time I write. Thank you for reading.

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking. Just simply heartbreaking. You're right. No child should ever grow up like this. Ever. I just spent time with my nieces yesterday, the eldest will be three at the end of March. We giggled, we danced, we played chasey and I helped her with her bath and getting into her pj's.

And I looked at her and thought of all those kids who don't have the life she has. I pray for them all. If thoughts can time travel, then know I'm sending some of those prayers back to you, when you needed them most.

Ruth said...

My god.

Thank you for interacting with this pain in the presence of people like me who have not experienced it. Reading your pain means a loss of innocence and ignorance, for me. It's one thing to read data and statistics. It's another to read stories, to know you went through this, and someone like your father really existed. Thank goodness for Elliot.

Shattered said...

Svasti, it is sad when you look at happy and loved children while knowing the misfortune of others, isn't it? It really wasn't until I had my daughter that these things really began to bother me... or I really should say, I could no longer ignore these things once I saw what normal was supposed to be for a parent and a child.

If your thoughts and prayers could travel in time... and even if they couldn't, thank you.

Shattered said...

Ruth, I originally began writing here for me so I could get some of this crap out. However, I am learning that there is more of a purpose than just "me". There really is more to child abuse than just numbers and statistics and I am very glad to be able to personalize it even if it means that I had to live through it to get here.

Yes, there really are men out there like my father and you are right, thank goodness for Elliot and the others; the human mind really is a marvelous creation.

Thank you for reading.