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.
Hanging On No More
19 hours ago