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.