by Kelly Yvette Burden
I was sleeping in my bed when I was roused by a loud crash, followed by screaming and cursing. Mommy and Daddy were fighting again. I went through the usual drill of grabbing my brother and putting him in my closet with his Smurf comforter. To him it was his safe zone; he could not hear any more of the fighting and screaming. I, on the other hand, had no choice but to endure it and try to put a stop to it.
As I made my way to the living room my body went through the usual change it did when I had to deal with situations like this: I felt an icy shield go over my whole body, starting at the top of my head and going to the tips of my toes. My shield was hard as a rock. Nothing could hurt me: I was practically invincible. When I made it to the opening of the living room, I saw the usual broken glass and shattered plates, turned over tables, and thrown about chairs. Surprisingly, the only thing that was intact was the television and stereo system. I made my way into the living room where the war was raging on.
Mommy was bundled in a corner of the living room trying to protect herself from the blows, while Daddy was hovering over her and hitting her. As I stood there watching, every hit looked harder than the last, each of Mommy’s cries louder than before. But my shield protected me from Mommy’s pain and Daddy’s anger.
I took a deep breath, and prepared to let out my battle cry: "DADDY, YOU ARE HURTING MOMMY STOP IT!" Daddy looked my way, his hand in mid-swing, and said, "Bumpkin, what are you doing up?" Daddy had a crazy look in his eyes: they were glazed over and deformed. Daddy was high. Daddy wasn’t Daddy anymore. He took a wobbly step toward me, breathing hard and fast, and said in a calm voice, "Go back to bed. Mommy and I are talking."
I took a step back and looked Daddy over. His shirt was wrinkled and had splotches of blood on it; he was sweating, and his hair was matted to his head. Daddy was a completely different man.
"Go on, Bumpkin; back to bed now." Daddy said again. I looked him in the eye and said, "No; stop hitting Mommy!" His look took a complete change, and his face twisted in anger as he yelled, "DOES ANYONE LISTEN TO ME IN THIS HOUSE?!" That would have probably frightened me, but my shield protected me.
He kicked over the lamp, grabbed his coat, and walked toward the door. He opened it and walked out, saying, "When I come back, this damn room better be cleaned up!" As he slammed the door, I looked at Mommy. Her cries had simmered down to whimpers, and she was still in the bundle position in the corner.
I walked over to her, avoiding glass and other sharp things on the floor. I sat beside her and told her he was gone, and that it was okay to stand up. She stood and turned her head so I couldn’t see her face. I knew something was wrong so I said, "Mommy, let’s go in the bathroom and get you cleaned up." I had been through the drill a thousand times and knew exactly what to do.
This time the damage was a little worse then before: she had a black eye; a bruise along her jaw; busted lip; marks around her neck; bruises on her arms, legs and back, and a cut along her thigh. I did an examination, and saw that half of it could be covered by makeup. By now my shield was gone and I was back to normal; I could feel all of Mommy’s pain and fear.
She would never talk to me, but I was used to that. We would just talk with our eyes, always knowing what the other wanted to say. As I cleaned Mommy’s cuts and iced her bruises, we would talk in our special language, and try to assure each other that everything was okay and things would get better. When I was done, she went into my room and went to my closet to let my brother know everything was all right.
While I went into the living room and cleaned up the mess of what I hoped would be the last war.