Abruptly Discarded, My Limp Body Dropped.

My father has always loved to garden, some would say that he has a green finger. I don’t know about a green finger but I can attest to an iron fist. Studying and analysing his plants he would tend to them with such care, watching as they flourished all around us. So precious to my father, the plants in the garden were not there to be enjoyed, not by us anyway. Prohibited from even going anywhere near them let alone touching them, “You look with your eyes and not your hands!” Naturally, I knew this and so it stayed with me while I played. Although anxious, I would discreetly ask my friends not to touch but it seemed to go over their heads. Lacking comprehension and completely unaware they would carelessly continue playing. Of course they weren’t interested in the plants but still I felt the need to remind them. That was until they became privy to what happened when my father became unhappy. With this knowledge and not surprisingly they didn’t go near them again.

Jamaican violet and blood orange, rich colours that bled into one another. Wearing only a tie-dye swimsuit I ran barefoot along the path, hopping from one foot onto the other as the boiling hot stone scorched my feet. The sun beamed, it was a beautiful day. Then from nowhere, “TAG, I GOT YOU!” Sam had caught me. Although I didn’t mind, I liked Sam. He was the prettiest boy with the bluest eyes. Smiling, laughing I was so happy to be playing with him. Looking around the garden I desperately searched for Annie but she was nowhere to be seen and so I retorted to getting Sam. Hot in pursuit I chased after him, ducking and dodging he evaded me time and time again. Despite tiring he was still determined to get away and so with a sharp jolt in the opposite direction he swung around the plant vine and was gone.

As if from nowhere came a violent blast, my father’s fist on the kitchen window. Truly terrified I looked in only to see what was a monster of a man, waiting for me. With white bulging eyes and spit covered teeth his index finger motioned for me to come inside. As to what happened next I can’t tell you, well not all of it. Although I do recall his solid hand gripping my swimsuit as he lifted me off the ground, holding me above his head. Saliva covered my face as he barked, although for me there was no noise. Suspended in the air with his clenched fist in my chest my mind was vacuous. A desolation of dead air and nothingness.

I thought that I was all alone but out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse into the garden. Sam and Annie stood side by side transfixed by the sight before them. Their faces, so shocked and scared, I don’t think that they had ever seen anything like this before. Very much accustomed to my father’s behaviour, such conduct was not so surprising to me. It was the sense of overwhelming humiliation that hurt me. I was so embarrassed, why did this have to happen in front of Sam. I will never forget the way the children were looking at me.

Abruptly discarded, my limp body dropped and hit the cold slate floor. With that I felt a sharp pain shoot through me, unlike anything that I had felt before. So acute I then realised that the source of the agony that I was experiencing was between my legs. It was then that I saw the blood. Alarmed and ashamed I picked myself up in a desperate attempt to get upstairs and away from my father. Examining myself I came to realise that the way in which my father gripped me had caused my swimsuit to collect and cut through my private parts. On my bed, swollen, bruised and bleeding I cried, curled up in the fetal position. I needed my mother.

BG

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Kneeling Beside the Tub.

Kneeling beside the tub I would sit, chin resting on one hand, propped up by the side of the bath. Immersed in the warm soapy depth,  I used my other hand to wash water over her growing belly. Curious I would explore, gently probing the soft, round shape all the while studying the flashes of purple. Scar tissue that lit up, glistening under the water, reflecting the night light. Consumed, my gaze would move between her stomach and the black mascara that trickled over her cheeks. Transfixed, I watched the stream of tributaries as they meandered across and down her face. Diluted, slate grey boulders streamed from red, raw, blood shot eyes. She would cry so hard. The pain in her face was one that I understood and so quietly I sat and observed all the while sharing her sadness.

The sound of silence was disturbed only by a whimper and a light hush. “Come on Mam, let’s leave, you and me!”. Looking at me, so softly she would explain how we had no money and that we had nowhere to go. Also, how I wouldn’t “be able to have lots of lovely things and a nice home”. Indifferent to such trivialities I pleaded “Please mam, I don’t want lots of toys, I don’t want anything. We are so sad, we have to go!”.  Her eyes were dead, her face blank communicating what can only be described as despair. Then came the realisation that we were not going anywhere.

In an attempt to cheer her up I then boldly declared that she had a beautiful singing voice. Breaking a smile she began to laugh. “Come on Mam, sing ‘The power of love’ for me”. Of course she did and she was amazing. I loved it when my mother used to sing for me. After several encores the only thing left for her to do was ” The Blob. Come on Mam pretend to be the Blob”. Together we laughed so hard.

Then from nowhere came an almighty thud. Shock and awe, my eyes popped and my mouth opened. It was the baby! With my hand in hers Mam guided me and together I felt him kick for the first time. With anticipation I sat quietly and listened, waiting to feel him move again. Both smiling, I would like to think that in that moment we were both ok.

At such a young age I wonder if I knew that such a coping mechanism would be employed throughout the duration of my life. A strategy that has served us all well, for if nothing else, we can always make one another smile. They say that you can either laugh or cry, I think that it’s only fair to say that we have had our fair share of tears and tickles. By all accounts things have been pretty horrendous but we’re still here. I’m still here to tell the tale, I just have to keep on keeping on.

BG