I remember the first time I was blamed for something. I think it was the first time I was scared as well. Or maybe it was just the first time I remember.
The memory is like a movie in my head, a scene that I will remember always. Though when I think about it, it’s something I saw, not something I experienced.
I am on the floor in the living room, covering my ears because I’d rather hear anything other than my mother calling for help, anything other than her begging me to run next door and call the police. Anything other slapping, beating and the rumbling of furniture. I don’t remember closing my eyes but I don’t remember seeing anything either. Maybe I just simply forgot.
I do remember feeling the couch behind me. The exterior is soft, comforting in a way.
Then she appeared in front of me. Blood on her face.
“Are you stupid? Why didn’t you go next door? Why didn’t you call the police?”
I just cried.
We lived in a town home, and I remember it being a fairly quiet neighborhood. I attended the elementary school down the street, from Kindergarten to 3rd grade. So, how old was I when this happened?
I can’t tell you. Was I old enough to have the responsibility put on my shoulders? Was I not smart enough, fast enough? She had asked good questions, and I had no answers.
I just cried.
She stomped away, angry. Like it was my fault. I could have saved her from her pain.
I don’t talk about this often, because it’s not my story to tell. I wasn’t beaten, I just saw it happen. Besides, talking about this, seems to make others uncomfortable, as the abuser is the father of my sister and brother. I know my sister never saw that side of him. And I’m truly not sure what my brother saw.
I know what I saw. A man full of laughter one minute, and a man with fists of fury the next.