The cell doors have slammed shut again for the night, two hours earlier than usual due to the ‘investigation’ that would be feigned into the death of another festering mouldy piece of shit. Henry and I loved early lockdowns. We usually sat and reminisced about the good times, when we were children. I found myself thinking about my sixth birthday. The last Birthday I ever spent with my mother.
She was adorable, slight and sweet. I knew her and my Dad always argued on these days and this one was no different. Dad was supposed to pick me and Grace up and take us and Mum for dinner at the local Wetherspoons. His super cool presents would, be waiting and we would have a wicked evening all together. Something me and Grace craved. A momentous occasion too, since we hardly ever were allowed to see him, only from a distance. It was a great idea. One that earned Mum a black eye, and a split lip. In the end, Tommy picked me up from school, telling me that my Dad wasn’t coming and he didn’t want to see me on my birthday.
I remember walking into the house, a little less bouncy than I was before my lessons finished at school hoping that it was one of those adult jokes where they say Santa Claus hasn’t been but he really has. I really hoped that my Dad was in the house. I should have noticed the signs even then when Mum had less than six months to live. The house was a mess, not the three year old whirlwind Grace mess, but bits of plastic and foam snapped and stressed and stretched lying on the floor. Remnants of a toy I was yet to open apparently. Grace was abnormally quiet, sitting talking softly to an orange rabbit shaped toy named ‘Katsuma’. Mum had red rings around her eyes, even that couldn’t be masked by the heavy make-up she was wearing.
Tommy took us out to dinner instead, over dinner my mother handed me an mp3 player, saying this was one last present she had bought me on that day. I didn’t say anything but I recognised it. The last time I had seen my Dad he had let me listen to music with him. It was one of the things I loved doing, sharing headphones and tapping our knees with our hands, using our legs as toms and a snare. It was the exact same one as my father had, including his trademark purple headphones. As an adult I had always bought purple headphones for any of my music players.
After the cheap meal, and the fizzy liquids were over and done with, so were the niceties. Tommy had again been drinking a pungent amber liquid that I wasn’t ‘old enough’ to drink. This transformed him. After they thought I was asleep, and Tommy had a few more cans of beer, I heard the raised voices that I had ignored for so many months prior. Uncharacteristically curious I crept to the top of the landing where I could see into the kitchen from the dark cover of the landing. For some reason I just put the mp3 player in my ears pressed play and just watched the scene below.
I worry about the weather and the pressure in my head, and how my lungs can’t find the oxygen to form a single breath.
My mother looked so small against Tommy as she struggled from his bulky boozy grasp. Her struggles were feeble, I guess she had learned that the less she fought him the easier this would be. Her oval brown eyes leaked a river of crystal tears down her face. Her left cheek inflamed by an angry red hand shape.
It doesn’t get caught in my throat, with all the words I couldn’t say. I pray that things are getting better.
Tommy stood behind her and forced his hand up my mother’s teal tank top, writhing inside the fabric like gargantuan pulsing maggots, pulling and kneading, pinching and pressing. My mother’s face displayed an indescribable agony. Her mouth tightly gripped shut, her lips so tightly pressed together that they had blanched to the colour of paper. Her eyes met mine and her face contorted to something inhuman, more tears flew, her mouth opened almost in a silent scream. Or maybe it was a scream. Her mouth moving must have been wrong, it earned a backhand slap to the head.
I still worry about the weather and I’m sick to death of rain, and these panic attacks do nothing for my tired swollen brain.
As her head bent low, Tommy pushed her top over her head, unclipped her bra and slammed her against the kitchen wall hard. He stepped back for a minute to watch my mother shiver in fear, crossing her arms across her chest to hide her small breasts, fixedly staring at Tommy, eyes still watering. Tommy was blocked from view behind the door frame, until his arm came into view with an erect index finger, forcefully poking the air in front of my mother’s face. She slowly lowered her arms and started to remove her black jeans and black pants. Her eyes flickered in my direction as she blinked tears onto the fading linoleum.
I’m holding out for a saving grace, to show me the error of my ways, I really need a change, because I’m not a pessimist but sometimes hope is missed, or missing.
Tommy came into view once again, this time naked, his Penis extended into a fearsome pole. He gripped his ugly purple headed monster. Reflexively my mother covered her vagina with both hands shaking her head before looking to the sky in a silent plea. Tommy punched her exposed breast with a meaty fist. Mum doubled in pain, so Tommy threw her to the ground. Like an animal my mother was on all fours, crying mutely against the distorted guitars thankfully filling my ears.
I caught a glimpse of my reflection, it didn’t recognize my face. I left a note at home explaining how I am sorry that I left.
Tommy entered her from behind, thrusting and pushing her against her will. There was a lot of hair pulling. Not playful, it was like he was trying to garrote her with her own split ends. It was like a relentless tirade of physical brutishness. Thankfully it didn’t last long before he pulled out his blood covered member and let it spit white snot like substance all over her back, in her hair, over her shoulder.
I haven’t felt so fucking drained. I need a break.
The song ended, I heard the back door slam as my mum, belittled and shaking, lay sobbing in the stark light of the kitchen. I stopped my mp3 player and ran to her, what a sight that must have been, the six year old boy cradling and hugging his blood and spunk covered mother. Mercy would have it that Grace remained asleep murmuring softly in her sleep. As I rocked the last few minutes of my sixth birthday out of my mother I felt anger. Probably the first time the pure unadulterated rage surged through my body. I began to envisage many creative ways of paying Tommy back for hurting my mother. The parent is supposed to be the rock, the one who cares for her children. My mother was less than a beast, and barely aware of my presence.
I wondered sometimes why she didn’t fight him off. Yes he was a big lad, a bulk of a man, capable of ripping her head from her shoulders. But isn’t the mother supposed to protect child from horror. What I saw, what I witnessed, no fuck it, what was burned into my memory didn’t feel like I had been protected. I was marked, searing, burning with disgust and anger. Right there I needed my father, I needed him to make the bad man go away. I came to terms with this over the years that she did it to protect me. If Tommy had discovered me, what would he have done? Did she take it for me?
That song would burn in me forever, every time my Dad played it on his stereo singing at the top of his voice. Sometimes I would shake and quail like a frightened little girl as the flashbacks began. I was eight when I asked my Father what a pessimist was. He smiled and answered simply that “A pessimist is the same as an optimist but better educated.” I never understood that until I found myself faced with a spurious life sentence for a spurious crime.
This evening I felt better though, less angry I suppose. The villain of my flashbacks was somewhere grey with a tag around his toe, as people who genuinely had no fucks to give feebly investigated which other bottom feeder rid them of their problem child. I was calmer, and a little warmer somewhere inside. I realised for the first time, that yes, sometimes hope is missed, or missing. But things were genuinely getting better. I smiled to myself as I pictured Tommy seeping claret realising that I never would again have to face the demon that butchered my mother.
It was as I smiled that all the lights went out, I had lost track of time, was it that time already. As the door of our cell slid open Henry and I got to our feet. Hope was definitely here, big and large, and offering us a large hug.