PART OF THE “BREAKING THE CODE OF SILENCE” SERIES
If you missed it, read Ungrateful Bitch (Part 1) first…
After a couple of hours spent shooting pool with friends and listening to the jukebox in the comforting normalcy of the football club, I arrived home, at 10pm as promised, in my boyfriend’s car – my bike in the boot. To be honest the last forty-five minutes at the club had been uncomfortable as I grew more apprehensive about going back. I was jittery and pre-occupied. A knew what my father was like and we had agreed beforehand that if he was there, A would bring me back to his house. I could have his bedroom while he slept on the sofa. He assured me his mum, a single mother who’d experienced domestic violence, would understand.
As soon as we pulled up on the drive I knew something was wrong. The house was in darkness but the curtains weren’t drawn. It looked eerie and empty, like the windows were watching me. I felt vulnerable. I got out of the car and walked up to the front door, the crunch of the gravel underfoot was magnified in the quiet of the deserted cul-de-sac. I wasn’t allowed a key, so I reached out to knock. As soon as my knuckles met the door, it soundlessly swung open to reveal the hall with its patchwork of shadows and darkness. I had barely a minute to grasp for an explanation when my father’s leering face appeared, inches before me, as he stepped out from behind the wall, “Hello”. The smirk that arranged his features betrayed his intense enjoyment of the drama he had staged. His voice was saturated with smug satisfaction.
Instinctively, I took a step back. “I’m gonna go back to A’s house for the night – it’s all arranged with his mum. I’ll come back in the morning and we can talk about this then, when everyone’s calmer” As I explained my decision to him, with a composure I didn’t feel, I could see that this wasn’t part of his plan; “You’re going nowhere!” His voice grew louder at the end of the sentence as he lunged forward and his hand closed around my arm. I cursed my slow reaction; a part of me hadn’t thought he would do this in front of someone outside the family. He followed me, step for step, as I tried to back away from him. His grip tightened until it became painful, was he going to break my wrist?
In my peripheral vision, I saw A approach us. He was saying something – telling my father to let me go. My heartbeat increased as adrenaline flooded my veins; this situation was not going to play out calmly. I was NOT going into that house, knowing what my father would likely do to me – whether you call it self-preservation or disobedience that was my motivation. I had suffered at his hands since the age of twelve; it seemed this was the point where I couldn’t stand it anymore.
By this time my mother was standing just outside the front door with my fourteen-year-old sister, who was starting to cry. She told us to keep the noise down – her only concern was what the neighbours would think. A took my free hand in his and my father yelled at her, “CALL THE POLICE”. His face was a mask of fury and his eyes blazed with anger, flecks of spittle flew from his lips as he shouted at A to let me go. I was trapped between the two of them as my father tried to pull me towards the door and A tried to prevent it. I couldn’t free myself; I was the rope in a human tug-of-war.
I don’t know how long we were like that, time gets distorted when you leave your body and become an objective observer of yourself in a traumatic situation, but A was the first to break the chain. He pushed my father, who stumbled backwards off-balance, and fell to the ground – losing his grip on my arm, and his glasses, in the process. A yelled at me, “RUN!”…
And I did, without thought, hesitation or plan. I just ran. I knew that if I didn’t, what awaited me was far worse than anything I might come across on the road back to town.
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