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Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

Thank you to Indigo Spider for Sunday Picture Press and the inspiring photos posted weekly as visual prompts.  I have chosen the picture below but wish I had time to write for all of them. Please visit her blog and join in the fun!

Visual Prompt 1 — Old School by Trevor Litchfield (from Trev’s Teleautograph)

SCHOOLHOUSE

I did try. Honest. I did. I told her once. Actually, twice. She didn’t listen. Or, maybe it was that she couldn’t at that time. Her mind couldn’t handle the possibilities or consequences back then. I understand now it would have complicated our lives.

But, what about ME, my mind, my life?

I know she grew up in a rigid environment, in a poor family, with twelve brothers and sisters, and a strict Catholic background. The priest was akin to God and could do no wrong. When he told families they should go to church every morning, 7:00 A.M. mass, they went.  When he said no meat on Friday, fish it was. When he handed out small white donation envelopes, they took them and didn’t question the number stamped on the left side to track the amount given.

Her Mom worked herself to the bone at home. Her Dad worked when he could but liked his drink more. She never talked much about her younger years but I remember once, in passing, she said there was never enough food in the cupboards.  She was often pushed aside at the dinner table by those with longer arms.

Things were different later, after she left home, when she married and had children of her own. She lived in a comfortable middle class home in a tight-knit community with neighbors who shared her values as they watched each others children. LIfe was good and the memories made there were sweet. I cherish many of those memories, too.

But why didn’t she believe my other ‘memories’?

The old parochial school has forever unnerved me, and now that it’s closed and empty, it’s even worse. Each time I head across town, I swear I’m not going to drive by, but I know I will. I always do. All these years later it still has me in its grasp, even though weeds have replaced children on the pavement and bushes are growing where the basketball hoop once stood.

My eyes glance at the small window and door of the protruding attached office. I remember when it was built, new, in front of the right  L wing by the playground. Now, rotting plywood is boarding the framework, keeping wandering animals at bay.  A shiver ripples through me as my mind recalls. I pull my sweater tighter and button it to my neck. The tightness and warmth feel good.

I startle…the time. I’m late. Time always escapes me here. 2:30. Mom will worry.  I told her I would stop by around 2:15. She sounded so strange on the phone earlier, insisting I visit today even though, like clockwork, it is shopping on Tuesday, BINGO on Thursday and Mass in the small stone cathedral on Sunday.

“Please, Linda, come in, come in.”

“Do you have a cold Mom? Your voice is so hoarse.”

No, Linda, not a cold. Please, sit here beside me.”

From the pocket of her worn sweater she pulls out a fresh newspaper clipping. Her trembling hands pass it to me. I look down at the blaring headline “ARCHDIOCESE ADMITS AND APOLOGIZES FOR ABUSE AND SEX CRIMES AGAINST STUDENTS FORTY YEARS AGO.

I can feel Mom’s eyes watching me as I look up. Our eyes lock and I follow her single tear as it caresses the crevices of her wrinkled cheek and stops by her now-thin lips. I tenderly wipe that lonely salty tear away thinking how salt is used as a preservative, how salty tears can preserve our spirit, our soul, can help us to survive.

“All I ever wanted was for you to say ‘I know’.”

As she gently grabs my hand, she whispers “I do know now, Linda. I do know.”

Floodgates thirty-nine years strong open as I give her my full heart. I am her little girl again feeling the warmth of her bosom as she rocks me back and forth. I hear her soft voice, balm-rich,  murmuring again and again “I know, I know, I know, I know….”

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BeKindRewrite, Inspiration MondayXI, has again provided us with a feast of prompts. Thank you, Stephanie!

One Man’s Trash

Jenna winced as she ran her fingers over her left jaw, black and blue…again. She touched her left breast. It felt sore, inflamed and swollen! If only she had listened to her friends and family those three long years ago. Instead, here she was, clear across country, strangers all around her, and even worse, with a stranger in her own house, someone she had once been in love with and trusted.  

“When did things change?” she wondered out loud. She had taken up talking to herself. It soothed her. She knew when she answered she wouldn’t feel two feet tall and berated. She wouldn’t have to worry about a slap, pinch, kick, punch, or rape.

She reached into her jacket pocket looking for a small piece of paper she had recently found in a bathroom at the mall. It was gone. It didn’t matter. She had memorized the meaning behind the words. She didn’t have to live with abuse. There were other options and choices out there. Her life could be better. She needed only to reach out.

Jenna thought of the picture she had seen recently of an iceberg. It had hit her like a ton of bricks. She had stared at it and studied it for hours. A very small part was visible above water. Beneath, invisible to the eye, a much larger mass was attached, lurking, impending danger, a menace with the ability to take life, to destroy it, and all without knowledge it could happen.

“That is me. I am an iceberg. My visible hurts, my black and blue cheeks and breasts are here for the world to see even though I do my best to hide them. Much worse, though, are my invisible hurts, what no one can see, so much larger, destroying me, my mind, my soul, who I am and even worse, who I can be. Why haven’t I seen these invisible changes?”

She thought of all the advice she had been given. She had ignored them all. She had been in love. Everything would be so wonderful. How embarrassing, how humiliating, she thought, to have been so wrong in the one thing that had felt so right.

Just then, the door flew open. Jenna startled and jumped noticeably.

He walked over to her. She could smell alcohol on his breath.  He hadn’t gone to work, again.

“What’s a matter, bitch? You afraid?”

Jenna held her breath knowing it was coming, and it did, sharp and painful, a punch and a kick. Visible!  Inside, underneath was all that hurt, agony, torment, dejection. Invisible!

“You deserve it. You are nothing, not even a whore. At least a whore is worth something. Trash, yup, trash, one man’s trash!”

He laughed, spit on the floor near her shoe, looked at her in disgust, and walked out, slamming the door behind him.

Jenna’s eyes brimmed, swimming in tears salted from sorrow and grief. She looked around at this place she didn’t call home, put both hands gently but firmly on her hungry, hurt heart and whispered, “…is another man’s treasure…One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Her wet eyes softly smiled, even through her pain and sadness. As she reached out and picked up the phone, she knew she was going to be alright!

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