Things have changed. I said to myself. All the memories of back when flooded my mind as I sat in the car and looked up at my childhood house. My feet seemed to be attached to weights as I slowly got out the car and walked to the sidewalk. I can’t believe I’m here. I said to myself. I never would have guessed that I would have to come back to this shitty ass town. I barely got out alive. I’m just glad I left when I did. I remember when I was younger and making a game out of how many steps it would take me to reach the front door from the sidewalk. Seventeen steps, on a good day. It would take me seventeen steps to reach the front door. Today, I dreaded walking to that door. Time to make up a new game. I wonder how many steps it would take me to get back to the sidewalk. My aim was as few as possible. Where was once well manicured lush green grass, was now dirt patches in some spots and over grown weeds in some areas. About six inches to be exact. They really did let this place go. Almost halfway there and I only managed 10 steps. I had to keep reminding myself that I only come here to collect what was rightfully mines and leave. People say walls don’t talk, but I know soon as I walk back into this house the familiar walls would remind me of all the pain I suffered and witness between them. Halfway there now. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck starting to stand. As much as I want to run away, I knew I had a mission to complete. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t. Slow deep breaths. It’s would all be worth it. I had to keep reminding myself. I got closer and my mind sank deeper. I remember all the hurt and pain that was brought upon me. Even just now to see the grass overgrown and bald in some patches, it hurts.
I remember the night I left vividly. Ma just had finished whooping me for something she didn’t do. She beat me and sent me to bed early because she didn’t have the house together and Pa would be walking through the door any moment. She spent the majority of her day outside in her garden and forgot to clean the house and cook supper. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There was never any food in the house. I don’t see how I could get blamed for something that I had nothing to do with. That was just the way things worked around here though. I guess I was supposed to take care of the house and the man of the house at the age of 13.
I was laying in my bed with my nighties on when I heard Ma and Pa arguing right after he came in shortly after 6pm.
“Got-dam-it Linda! You were supposed to have supper ready by 6pm!”
“Paul, I keep telling ya it’s that damn child of yours. She just ain’t ever going to get right. I’m telling ya; I have to keep eyes on her 24/7 or she would be out here laid up naked in a field fucking some boy. I can’t take my eyes off her a second. She would be running about pregnant by one of these little nappy headed boys she fond of.”
When Pa when to work at 6am, Ma would spend all day in the garden and working on the yard with the smallest pair of daisy dukes on. She would put on a show for whoever would ride past the house and watch. They stopped having a real marriage a long time ago. Their days evolved around Pa molesting me and Ma beating me. I prayed on so many nights to disappear and die.
“You don’t think the neighbors talk? I know all about your little show you put on all day for every darn car that passes by.” Pa said as he turned by around and left out the front door.
Ma tried to chase him down, but after two minutes or so, she came back in. She burst into my room and started hitting me with a metal hanger while accusing me of running her husband off. I tried my best to use my blanket as a shield, but she managed to pry it from my hands. Every time the hanger would touch my skin, I felt a hot burst shoot through me. After 17 hits, I lost count.
“Shut up foe I give you something to cry about” Ma shouted before leaving out the room.
When she left the room, I made up my mind that I was running away. Soon as they would go to sleep. While lying there silently crying, I heard Ma in the kitchen cooking dinner for supper. I took that time to write in my journal and pack my bag. That night Pa never came home and Ma never came back into my room, so leaving was easy. They wouldn’t miss a child they never wanted.
As I knocked on the door, I heard Pa moan and groan about who could be knocking on his door. The sound of the floor boards squeak sent chills through my spine. I could see his shadow through the screen door. I took a step back so he could open the screen door.
“Well, look what the cat dragged in” Pa said as he adjusts his glasses. “It takes for you mammy to die for you to come back to your old man.”
“Look Pa, I just come to get the rest of my items out my room. I don’t want any problems with you. Please just let me get my things.” I said with a shaky voice.
“You been gone damn near ten years, if it’s in there then gone get it and leave. You never were one to make a man happy. You wasn’t shit like your mammy. May her raggedy ass soul rest in hell” Pa stood to the side and let me in.
Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four. I counted the steps in my head. I opened my door and it was like I never left. My white canopy twin sized bed, yellow curtains with matching beset, and my white desk. My bed was still unmade and clothes everywhere. I quickly snapped from my trans and went over to my old desk. My notebooks was right where I left them in the lose floor board under my desk. I quickly gathered them up and headed towards the door. I had accomplished my mission. I faced my fears, but I wasn’t safe yet. I had to get back to the side walk. Only then would I be safe. As I walked past my father sitting in the same old brown recliner, I had the certain urge to run. Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four.
“I hope you got everything you needed because next time you’re not welcome.”
I wanted to tell Pa how I didn’t even want to come here today and he would never see me again. I didn’t go to Ma funeral and I had no plans of attending his. As I stood in at the door, I had flashbacks of the abuse I endured in this house. Tears escaped my eyes without my permission. I was just about to open my mouth when he started to get up from the recliner, so hurried and opened the door and took off taking big steps. I didn’t stop until I was safe in my car. I glanced at the door and seen Pa looking out the screen door. Forty-two steps. It took forty-two steps to complete my mission by facing my childhood fears.
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