You're seven years old. Your mom's at work, and it's shower night. As soon as your stepfather announces it, you take off running to your room. You know you have ten minutes between now and when the water is manually shut off to grab pajamas, get to the bathroom, undress, and shower. You look around your room and pick up the few things on the floor, knowing that your stepfather will be checking, and if anything's left behind there will be hell to pay. It takes longer than usual, and in your panic you run out of the room and slam the door shut. It's not fun trying to rinse your hair without water. After your shower, you go into your bedroom to see your stepfather waiting on your bed. You look to your left and see the horror that awaits you. The door slamming caused the wall to rattle which caused your bookshelves to rattle which caused seventeen stuffed animals to fall off the shelves. You bid them a silent farewell and prepare for the spanking- one hit for every item on your floor. You don't sit comfortably for three days.
You're nine years old. You sit on the floor of your sisters' room and hold the youngest in your lap. The two year old is hopping around the room. You ask her to take her shoes off and put them away, but she doesn't listen.
"Play wiff me, Sissy," you barely understand her say through her pacifier.
"I'm playing with Krista right now, I'll get to you in a little bit," you say as the baby gurgles up at you.
"No!" the two year old says. "Play- wiff- me!" She accents each word with a hard kick to your back as you try, but fail, to scoot away. You curse the baby for preventing you from getting up after the first kick, and go tell your mom.
A week later you're in the doctor's office. Those kicks are now nasty bruises and a kidney infection. All your stepfather has to say is, "You should have gotten out of the way."
You're twelve years old. You come home from school with a math test in your backpack. It was on trigonometric ratios, which you don't quite get yet. You did all the studying you could for the week before the test, and you believe it paid off. The pen at the top of the paper reads "81% B- Good job!" because your teacher knows how much you totally don't understand most of the material that was on the test. Neither of you are worried because you both know that with some more guided repetitions you'll have your "aha!" moment and you'll never forget how to do it. You show your mom and she, too, is proud. Proud enough to hang it on the fridge. You go about your chores, and then get to work on homework.
Your stepfather comes home from work and goes into the office. On the way, he passes the refrigerator, and sees the test. You hear him call your name in what seems to be a calm tone as he takes the test off the fridge. He walks outside, and you follow.
"You want to get into the Cambridge Program, right?" he says, referring to the accelerated program at one of the local high schools. You nod, somewhat knowing where he's going with this and silently praying that you're wrong. "Do you think this kind of grade is going to cut it?"
"It's a B," you say, trying to keep the defensiveness out of your tone, because you know he'll pounce on it.
"B minus. That's not a B. You passed this by the skin of your teeth."
"Anything higher than an F is considered passing."
"Not by my standards, and not by Cambridge's. They don't want B minus students, they want A plus students. They're never going to accept you with grades like these. You'll end up going to Glasgow instead. You pull grades like these in their advanced programs and you're going to drop to the bottom of the barrel so fast you won't know what hit you. You'll be in classes with people who don't know two plus two is four. And then you'll never get into college. Is that what you want?"
You say no, but he doesn't listen. He continues to paint you a horrible future while you silently listen. He berates you for not coming to him for help while you wordless recall going to him and being called an idiot. Eventually he has you in tears of more frustration than sadness, and that's when he finally stops.
"You know I'll still love you, even if you do become a homeless idiot, right?" he asks, as if that makes things better. You nod and follow him inside.
You're fifteen years old. Your math teacher has pulled you out of class the day after a parent-teacher conference, and she asks the question that you've been waiting for an adult to ask for you the past nine years. "Is he abusing you?" Your eyes flood with tears as you nod yes.
Song of the Day- "Mean" by Taylor Swift