Monday, August 16, 2010

The Law

Amid all of the screams, begging, and tears, I never felt it was my responsibility to help. Time after time, I asked myself the same question, "Why does she allow this to happen? She could stand up for herself or walk away. No matter how bad it gets, she never does anything different." As long as he did not lay a hand on me or my sisters, it was merely a sad fact of life. One that I felt no responsibility for. That is until I turned sixteen.

It wasn't the day I turned sixteen, rather a rainy fall night when he decided my mother had had enough and he was still angry. I stood by the phone, keeping quiet on my way back to my room where I could shut the door on that sad fact. This time, he stopped me. Asked me where I was going. Looking down at his feet, I stammered, "To my room."

"What the hell are you doing out of your room in the first place?" he stormed on.

I looked up to his face, too surprised that he would even question it. There was no rule that we were to stay in our room while they were fighting. It was a safety precaution we chose to follow ourselves. My stunned silence lasted too long and I felt the flat of his hand land sharply against my cheek. I fell backwards, barely catching myself. Rage filled me as I looked at the floor and felt the stinging heat on my cheek.

Standing up, hands clenched at my fist, nerves shaking uncontrollably, I stared at his shocked expression. I wondered if he was shocked that he had hit me or shocked that I bothered to stand back up, something my mother would never dare to do. We looked at one another for several seconds, neither saying a word and both holding our posture, unwilling to let the other see a change in our demeanor.

"I'm sorry...." he finally said, his eyes falling to the ground. "I didn't mean to...."

I didn't care. He'd never apologized before, not to my mother or any of us for his actions. It wasn't enough. That's when I realized why she stayed. She loved him, wanted him, needed him in a sad way. I did not. I didn't care about this sorry excuse for a man; a husband; a father. "If you ever touch me or my sisters again, I will call the cops and we will all be gone. I am not strong enough to deal with you, but the law is on our side."

He almost toppled over, taking two full steps before regaining his balance. I stood taller, my arms still straight down at my sides, my hands clenched tighter. I stared at him, silently daring him to leave a mark. He didn't. He simply turned and left.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

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