Also by Jessica on HA: “Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality.”
Trigger warning: graphic description of physical abuse.
Awaking from a fitful slumber, I turn over and squint to see the clock.
It’s 2 am, dad is home.
Who will it be tonight? If I hear one of my brother’s screaming, it probably won’t be me. I close my eyes, clasp my hands. “Dear God, I know you’re busy and I know this is selfish, but please just let dad go to bed tonight.”
I hear boots in the hallway and I curl into the fetal position under my blanket, shaking. Please not me. Please not me. Please not me and click, my door knob turns. It’s me. I pretend to be asleep.
No explanation. I do not know what I did. It does not matter. I stand up, shaking. Dad slings me over the side of the bed and I sob, “Please dad, please don’t.”
I make the mistake, I put my hands over my buttocks.
“Daddy please stop”
A heavy leather mechanics belt slices into my hands, instantly excruciating and yet numb. I move them quickly or he will hit them again. Painfully slowly, biting my cheek until it bleeds. I count in my head. 4…5…6….7……..18….19…20…21….22…. and it ends.
I collapse on the bed.
Dad says “I love you.” Then he turns and walks out shutting my door behind him.
I listen to the boots walk down the hall and disappear. Silently, I walk into my bathroom, vomit into the toilet, clean it up and then run my hands down my 10 year old lower back, backside and thighs.
I have welts.
Some of them are bleeding.
My hands are already purple. I need a story, how did I get that shape mark on my hands… I’ll think of it in the morning. I go back to bed and finally allow myself to cry and think about how good life would be if my father were dead. Simultaneously, though, sad that he would be gone.
He is my dad after all.
Tomorrow my classmates will know he hit me. I won’t tell them, they won’t see the bruises, they’ll just know. They’ll see how awful I must be to make my dad hit me like that. Why am I so awful?
I know I deserved it God, that’s why you didn’t stop him.