Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gone Swimming

My dad went out to sea for the first time that I could remember when I was in the third grade. We lived in this apartment building in a small town in middle America, much like life is now. In the center of the complex was a pool. I loved this more than anything. I've always loved the water. I know I'm an earth sign, so I find this a weird thng, but oh well. It is what it is.

It was spring break. Of course it was cold, but I didn't care. The one thing I knew I wanted to do that week was dive into the pool and let it wash away all the crap that was going on in my life. It wasn't a gentle up bringing, that much I can tell you. Still, none of that mattered. I wanted to escape into the water and stay there as long as possible.

So I got up that morning, put on my swin suit. My heart beat so fast because I was so excited about it all. I could already feel the water rushing past me. I raced out the door and down the apartment stairs then made a mad dash to the pool.





Oh but I was smart and grabbed the key. See I told you I wanted to go. I even thought about it.

There I was, key in hand and all I could think was yes...the water is going to be so good. With great anticipation, I put the key in the lock. It was hard too because it didn't want to go in. I had it upside down...oops. I put the key in right and turned the lock.




The door opened. I dropped my towel, took off my shoes and dove in. The cold sensation that surrounded my body felt like a milliion tiny needles. The water was freezing. I didn't care though. I stayed under as long as possible.

It was quiet, peaceful and perfect. See because under the water, I couldn't hear anyone yelling at me. I wasn't getting my head bashed in and I wasn't being told what a stupid girl I was. Under the water, I was a princess who lived in a land far away. That was the place I belonged. So I held my breath as long as possible. I held it until it hurt then held it some more.

Finally, I rose to the surface. Who did I see standing over me with a disgruntled look in her face? My mom.

"What are you doing, that water's freezing. Get the hell out of there and get your ass home."

"It isn't cold. It's perfect," I said.

I shoved my way to the center of the pool when she reached out to grab me by the head. There was no way I was going in the apartment with her in the mood she was in. Though I may not drown in the pool, there was a sure bet I was going to get a beating for being in it. I wanted to make it last as long as possible.

If there was one thing I remembered my dad telling me before he left it was this; "if you're going to get in trouble while I'm gone, just make sure it's worth it."

At that moment, I was sure no matter what I did, I was going to be in trouble, so I was going to make sure it was dam good and worth whatever beating I was going to get. Little did I know she had a new secret weapon.

Before she returned to the apartment, mom left me with these parting words. "You have to come home eventually and I'll be waiting."

Well wait then, I thought.

She was right. I had to get out and go home sooner or later. I decided to make it later, give her a chance to cool off. That didn't happen.

My stomach growled, I was so hungry. It was about lunch time and I had skipped breakfast.

She should be cooled off by now. Right? I was so wrong it wasn't funny. She had taken that time to put together the thing she was going to use to beat the crap out of me. Three wire hangers were wrapped together in formed into a loop.

You can imagine the fear that went throug my mind when she lifted that one in the air. Each strike with the new weapon felt like it struck a bone. My back felt wet again. I thought that maybe it was water dripping from my hair. I was wrong, it was blood. My shirt was now dripping with it. She had struck me long and hard. After a few blows, I passed out. I suspected she continued the beating for a while after that because when I came to, I was in the hospital. My arms were wrapped in bandages as well as my legs. I was laying on my stomach and I had an iv in my arm.

Alone. Scared. Hurt. I started crying. I didn't know what was going on. The last thing I remembered was being in trouble. I must have been whaling loud, because the nurse came in and began to talk to me in the softest kindest voice I had ever heard. I wasn't used to anyone talking to me in such a kind sweet voice.

"Shh, it's ok," she said.

"I want my daddy," I cried.

Another woman came into the room followed by a man. I was so confused and scared.

The man asked me, "Do you remember what happened?"

"I went swimming," I said.

"Anything else?" he asked.

I laid there for a minute and thought about it. I remembered every lash she gave me. The searing pain that filled my body and the sound of my flesh being ripped open from her new weapon. I remembered the hateful words she said to me. Tears streamed down my face. I didn't want to remember it anymore.

"I went swimming. No one said I couldn't," I said.

"Do you know who did this to you?"

I did. I knew exactly who did it. What would she do to me if I told them? Where would I hide if she came back? How long would it be before she got a hold of me again? So many questions I shouldn't have had to ask. So much fear that shattered me more than any of the beatings she ever gave me. That included this one.

I thought about my dad. "I will always stand by your mother."

He was out to sea. He couldn't help. Wouldn't help anyways.

"I don't know," I whispered.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"I don't know anything."

I wanted to be back in the pool again. I wanted to feel the water rush around my body. I wanted to block everything out that had happened.

"I'm sure."

The nurse sent them out of the room. There were muffled voices outside my room. I knew one of them. It was her.

"What did she say?"

"She doesn't know."

"Can I see her?"

In she came. Her face looked sad but her eyes told a different story. The were cold...cold as the snow on the ground in a winter day. She looked down at me.

"I bet you come in next time," she whispered.

I looked at her. I knew I was angry. Not even an apology.

"Your life is in my hands," I said.

"What did you say to me?"

"You think I don't know that was a cop in here. I'm 9 not stupid. Say you're sorry. Tell me you're sorry you put me here."

The look on her face was one of shock. She took a step back. "I-I'm sorry."

She looked down at the ground and twirled her hair the way she did when dad yelled at her. She stood there, frozen in silence. I had won.

"Why didn't you ask to go swimmig?" she asked.

"You were asleep. I didn't want to wake you up."

"Oh," she said. Her voice had a nervous tone to it.

Still twirling her hair. She looked into my eyes. For the first time I could remember, she had a soft look on her face. Tears streamed down her face. She looked older, worn out and tired.

"I really am sorry," she said in just a whisper.

"Me to," I said.

She left the room that day. I expected her to return but she didn't. She never came back. I never knew if she was afraid of me or if she was afraid of herself. I do know my dad came home. He picked me up and hugged me when he reached the hospital. I cried and told him the whole story.

"I didn't know. God I didn't know," he cried.

He took me home that day. When he retruned to his ship, I was sent to live with my grandma. That was fine by me, she loved me more than anyone else ever had.


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