Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Solitary Confinement

    My mother's plan worked.  The Army called my father onto the carpet and he came back to her. Everything had a price and that wonderful, carefree Summer's bill had come due, My father imposed new rules. I was to stay in my room. My brother would bring me my meals, I could only leave to use the bathroom across the hall and to go to school. And more importantly, most cruelly, no one was to speak to me, for three months. So it was. I stayed alone, heartbroken and more buried in myself than ever. My mother in her own way of helping me deal with things, knocked on my door and handed me a pile of paperbacks. A stack of used "bodice rippers. Not the reading material for most eleven year olds, I am sure. I stuck them in the back of my closet and spent my time drawing and praying to a God my parent's didn't believe in. It to help me. We lived in an apartment on the forth floor. I remember standing at my window looking down at the cement trying to screw up my courage enough to jump. There was a small grate on the window, but I could easily get over that. Somehow, I couldn't do it. Whether it was out of fear or hope I cannot say.

   I don't know if you believe in God, but I do. I always did. I don't know where I first heard of him, but I did.  I remember someone coming to our door, I must have been five or six, wanting to talk about God, and to see if we were saved. My Father was short and to the point "Go the fuck away, we aren't interested."  I was interested. I felt that they were part of a club that I wasn't good enough for.  I don't know why I thought that. I mean I was five, so my views on religion were pretty loose. But I wanted to be in that club. They seemed so good and clean and happy. I wanted what they had. And that goal gave me hope.

   Time passed, years and things got more complicated. Junior High lead to High School and a whole new world. My father got stationed in Texas and retired there. He got a job as a police officer in a small town, and then another. He couldn't seem to stay in any department very long. But he always found a smaller town in need of his services. He became angrier and meaner than ever. He was rougher with me, where before he had been coaxing, now he was aggressive and violent. I threw myself into school and I was good at it. I made friends and took extra classes. Anything to keep out of my Parent's home. I could see the time getting closer. I had been counting for a long time.  I wanted my own life and I knew I was going to have it. I became moody, and for the first time, mouthy. I dared my parents to hit me. I was openly defiant and it was thrilling. I reveled in it. And neither of them knew what to do with me. My mother tried to be friends, to talk it all out. I wouldn't let her in. My father, tried arguing and yelling. He rarely hit us anymore. My brother and I had both been treated for concussions by then time and I think that scared him.

   My freedom came early and it was SO simple. My mother was in the hospital having had back surgery. My father came after me as he always did. But something in me had changed. Maybe it was being fifteen, or having friends. I don't know really. I stood my ground, looked him in the eye and told him if he touched me again, I would call the cops. And everything changed,  I was free. He turned away from me, grabbed his keys and was gone. The next day while we were at school he moved his things out for good. Why hadn't I known tho,se words before? They were magical and I was safe.

  My mother was crushed and angry and she blamed me. She was vicious and mean spirited and none of it touched me. I stayed out with my friends, joined drill team and did all those things teenagers do. I felt normal. I fit in and I was not going to let her take that away from me. She found where his new girlfriend lived and went into her same diatribe about his violence and constant job changes and of course her ace in the hole, me. It did no good and she got madder. She called his job and then showed up there. No one listened. No one believed her. She was powerless to do anything to bring him back and she couldn't corral me either. And so, I felt, she having no further use for my brother and I, she left.

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