"Daddy Dearest"

The reason why my Ma came home that day with swollen lips and singed eyebrows is because a fight broke out in the kitchen of the group home where she works and she got caught in the crossfire. Well, that's what she told my brother Charles. She said it with a look of aggravation, and it was as if her eyes were telling him to shut up and not ask another question. Everyone always says that I am my mother's twin. I'd happily accept that compliment if I knew for sure that I wouldn't grow up to be the type of woman that she is. Don't get me wrong. I love my Ma. Love her dearly, but she comes home bruised most mornings, 


which is crazy seeing as how she works the second shift and is off by 11pm. I never understood why she always waits till morning to come home.



My older brother Charles stared at my Ma with clenched fists. He would never put his hands on her, and the look he gave her reminded me of how he'd look at my dad after he finished beating her up. We are definitely a product of our parents, or so I'm often told. So, what does that mean for me? Will I subject myself to crude dealings from a man who pledged his love and life to me? Would I have to wipe up my own blood from the floor each night? I hate the sight of blood. Loathe it, in fact. So marrying a man like my father just wouldn't work for me.

My dad left us two years ago. He said he got tired of my Ma never putting up a fight. He said that he hated how she just stood there and took it. I remember he raped her once. My brother and I cried in my bedroom closet as we listened to her screams for him to stop. I tried focusing on the butterfly button on one of my blouses hoping that it would take my mind to a land of euphoria. The thought of butterflies always took me there. It didn't work. Once it was over he went and sat in the living room and turned on the sports channel as if nothing happened. My Ma showered and made us dinner. Charles didn't eat. She cooked fish, potatoes and green beans that night. Charles knocked his plate off the table and Ma cried as the plate shattered. Dad said that Charles could just go to bed hungry and ordered my Ma to clean up the mess.

That next morning we woke up and he was gone. Just gone. Ma called and called him, but he ignored her. She called him for weeks. Called every day from different phone numbers even, but he never answered or called back. Charles left that day too. He went down to Georgia to stay with our aunt Janelle and her husband Monte. He called us every day to check on Ma and to make sure Dad wasn't back. I heard him say once that if Ma let him back in he would kill him and repaint the walls with his blood.

The feeling in the house the morning Ma came home with singed brows was cold. It was about 75 degrees outside, but inside the house was very cold. Cold enough to send chills up the back of the Devil himself. It was picture day for me. Our fifth-grade teacher Ms. Coles had to do my hair after school yesterday because Ma was at work and I knew she wouldn't be home till morning. I told Ms. Coles that Ma was working a double and Charles wasn't allowed to touch my hair. He was 16 but asking him to comb my hair was like asking our pet fish Oscar to bake a cake. Can you imagine how gross that would turn out?

Charles stood there and ignored the request from Ma's eyes to shut up.

"I told you if he came back I would kill him. How could you?! That man put us through hell and you let him back!"

"What are you talking about Charles? I told you that the women got into a fight at work, so just sit down and shut up. Eat your breakfast."

Charles told me to grab my book bag and go outside. I knew better than to disobey my brother. The excitement I had for taking my fifth-grade photos left my spirit. Ma had bought me a pretty purple skirt and white turtleneck. My black and purple penny loafers set it off because she glued a pretty purple plastic butterfly to each shoe. As I walked out the back door by the kitchen we heard the front door close.

"Charles baby, please just go to school. Please! Just leave now!"

Charles locked the door behind me, but there was a hole in one of the kitchen window curtains so I would still be able to see inside. The only problem was that I had to climb on a crate and risk getting my clothes dirty. I couldn't risk missing out on anything that was going to happen so I climbed on the crate and peered through the window.

I could see that Charles was sweating as Ma tried to push him out of the door.

"Charles, leave before you get hurt. Please!"

"Move out of my way Ma."

Charles was pushing his way into the living room. He lifted weights almost every day after school and was almost as strong as a grown man, but somehow Ma was holding him back. I ran around to the side window that had a sheer curtain and I saw my dad sitting on the couch facing the kitchen.

"Woman, get out of his way."
"What are you gonna do boy, besides make me mad and get your ass kicked?"

I saw Charles' eyes lock onto his and he pushed Ma so hard that her head hit the wall and she fell to the ground. I couldn't see her entire body, but I knew she was alive when I saw her feet moving. He pushed her really hard so I knew she was struggling to get up. I heard a loud bang and by the time I saw Ma get up Charles was already covered in blood. I screamed against the window. Charles looked at me and then dropped the knife, fell to his knees and then finally slumped over.

I ran around the house and rushed in the front door. There was silence. The silence was loud enough to fill a large auditorium. My dad was just standing there. Not moving. Not saying a word. I looked at my Ma and screamed. The smoking gun was still in her hand. She kept the gun in the coffee table drawer. She was trembling as the tears fell down her face. The police rushed in. I guess a neighbor called when they heard all of the screaming.


It has been 21 years since Charles died. I stopped visiting my Ma in prison about 10 years ago and she died one year later. I was all she had left and I guess after losing me she had nothing to live for. She hung herself in her cell. Sharing the story with my counseling group for the first time today gave me a sense of relief. I didn't tell my husband that I was attending. I didn't want him to judge me and I wasn't ready to share the details with him.

"What took you so long to get back?"

"I had something to do David. Besides, I was only gone for two hours. What are we doing for dinner?"

He slapped me so hard that I fell to the ground. I saw the blood from my lip on our white carpet. I hate the sight of blood. Loathe it, in fact, so I screamed. He dropped the pamphlet from the counseling center to my feet.

"Oh, shut up. I didn't even hit you that hard. Ain't shit wrong with you. Remember what the consequences are the next time you decide to go to counseling without me.

He had never hit me before, and he whispered a sweet "I love you" as he walked into the kitchen.



***


Copyright © 2016 By Jasmine D. Rivers.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to AJ Writer with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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Copyright © 2016 By Jasmine D. Rivers.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to AJ Writer AND The Mom Who Could with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Please contact AJWriter.com for more information.







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