Home » A Wasted Life » Answering The Question- “Why Did I Stay With Him” (Part Four)

Answering The Question- “Why Did I Stay With Him” (Part Four)

I stayed with my grandparents for months and months.  All I wanted to do was go home.  I cried every night when I went to bed.  I slept all curled up in a ball.   I never knew when I might get a drawer of flatware thrown in my face or a belt across my legs.  It didn’t hurt as much to get hit on the back as it did on the legs or arms.  My fingers had been broken and I had a crater on my skull that was deep enough to hold water.  I still slept curled up for years and years as an adult, maybe still trying to protect myself.
I would go out outside and climb trees.  I’d straddle a limb and pretend that it was a white stallion.  I would picture my knight in shining armor coming to rescue me and then whisking me away to a castle.  But reality always came knocking and it was never going to happen.
I was getting ready for high school, which posed a problem.  My grandparents lived too far away for me to walk, they couldn’t take me and certainly didn’t have enough money for me to take a city bus.
I guess my grandpa talked to my daddy.  My daddy came over and said he “reckoned that I could come back home.”  I was so excited….but there was a caveat.
I packed my things and he took me “home.”
We waked in and P****, mama and my little sister, D**** were sitting on the sofa like judges.  They had a stack of papers and handed them to my daddy.
The papers were the “conditions” of my “being allowed to come home.”
I was not allowed to come out of my room unless I asked permission.
I was not allowed, under any circumstances, to go into P****s’ room or anybody elses’.
I wasn’t allowed to even get a glass of water unless I asked.
I would speak only when spoken to.
When dinner was ready, if I wasn’t at the table, I wouldn’t eat.
I was going to be the dishwasher and it was nonnegotiable.
I WOULD go to church every Sunday for the purpose of possibly become a “decent human being.”  That was also nonnegotiable.  Nobody else went or had to go….only me.
I sat there and eagerly agreed to everything like an obedient servant, selling their soul to the devil.
After I agreed, I had to sign the papers.
I was so happy to be there.  I tried my best to obey the rules.  I started high school and discovered that it was a sanctuary.  Nobody hit me or called me names there.
My grandma had given me a silver metal jewelry box with a red velvet lining.  It was heavy and I treasured it.
I came home one day, and it wasn’t in my room.  I broke the rules and went into P****s’ room.  She had taken it.  I took it back.  I didn’t understand why she thought that she could just take something that was mine.  She was walking out with it and I told her to give it back.  She turned around, threw it at me and hit me in the eye.  My eye immediately swelled up.  Then mama and D**** came in.  D**** picked up one of my daddys’ shoes and hit me right in the solar plexus.  It disabled me for a few seconds.
My mama could wield a broom handle with the expertise of a professional baseball player.  She broke it when she hit me right across the small of my back.  It was one of the most painful strikes she ever landed.
After that, I started “spotting.”  It was dark red.  I didn’t know exactly what to do and I was embarrassed.  I didn’t want to put my panties in the laundry hamper so I decided that I would wash them myself.  I was going to wait until the weekend so I could wash them outside.
I hid my panties under my mattress until I could get to them.
I came home from school and mama was sitting on the sofa with her arms crossed.  That was always a bad sign.  She didn’t say anything but followed me with her eyes until I got to my room.
I walked into my room and she had tacked my panties up on the wall.  She had gone and gotten a belt and was right behind me.  She said “I thought I smelled something and I looked all over the house.  I should have known it was your FILTH.”
When my daddy came home that night, mama and P**** wanted him to make me leave but he wouldn’t.  When he went in the kitchen, my little sister came up to me and said “if I ever pass you on the street, I’m going to spit in your face.”
I weathered things as good as I could.  I had started wearing a little make-up.  Mama had used it when I was younger, to cover the bruises and the splotching on my face.  I then became “her royal highness, the street walker.”
My daddy  had the preacher of the church where I was made to attend, come talk to me.  I told him that I wanted to be a doctor and when I got out of school, I was going to get a job, an apartment and save my money for college.
He asked me why I wanted to be a whore.  He said that young girls who were out on their own, became whores.  Then he asked me why I was so insanely jealous of my sister.
When he left, I was talking to my daddy and told him that I wanted to be the first female neurosurgeon at the hospital where I was born.
He laughed at me and said “why P**….you need to stop that kind of talk…..you need to find a husband and have some younguns.”
P**** had always talked about wanting to be a teacher.  I heard my daddy tell my mama that he would do everything he could to send her to college.  I was worthless and not worth even a serious consideration, much less tuition.
I continued to make mama mad.  I knew the neighbors could hear me screaming.  I knew the teachers at school could see the bruises and marks.  Nobody ever said or did anything.
I asked her one time why she just didn’t go ahead and kill me.  She looked at me with utter contempt and said “because I don’t want to go to jail.”  I guess the threat of jail was the only thing standing between me and murder.
One of the things I wanted to be able to do was stand there and take the beatings without crying.  I wanted her to not be able to smile and say “that’s right….turn on the waterworks” and then hit me until I stopped crying.  I wanted her to not hit me and said “you’re so smart!  You’re so smart!”  If I was so smart, why did she hate me so much?
That day finally came.  Mama grabbed a handful of my hair.  I reached up and grabbed a handful of hers.  She would pull mine  harder with the words “let go.”  I told her that I would let go when she let go.  We were bent over in an almost death grip.  She let go.
I was torn between feeling like I had not let her win and feeling guilty for pulling her hair.  I went to her and told her that I was sorry for pulling her hair.  She told me to get out of her sight.
I made it out of high school and moved to another city.  I never got to go to college.
P**** found out where I was and called me one day.  She told me she was getting married and said “if you’ll take a bath, you can be my maid of honor.”
I bought my dress and shoes and had to go without eating for quite a while because they were expensive.  I lived off of saltine crackers.
I went to her wedding and did what I was supposed to do.  After the ceremony, we all lined up and not one person spoke to me.  Not one.  I hopped in my car and drove back home.
P**** never became a teacher.  She went to work for the ********* company, married a cheating man, divorced him and then retired.
She knew that I made quilts and she decided that she wanted to learn how.  It started out with a few phone calls, asking for help.  We actually started talking and visiting but there was always this disconnect.  She had the same superior air that she had always had.  P**** was a dichotomy.  She was the most generous person you would ever meet on one day and then the next, she was the most selfish person who ever lived.
P**** called me one day and said “guess what?  Mamas’ dead.”  Mama had fallen, hit her head and died from a brain bleed.
After mama died, I got a phone call from a family member.  They told me why mama hated me.  It made perfect sense and it was like a load had been lifted.
My little brother always carried around a bottle of baby aspirin.  He liked it because it rattled and mama let him because he was only two and a half years old.
I was three and a half years old and I figured out how to get the cap off of the bottle.  He ate them and died.  It was clear why mama always said “you’re so smart. You’re so smart.”
I had killed my little brother.

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