From the fog of deep sleep, Mom’s voice came to me. I opened my eyes and listened. I was always so tired. Exhausted was a better word. I just wanted to sleep. Whenever I wasn’t throwing up, I was trying to sleep. Pregnancy was not exactly feeling so great.
She was definitely calling me. It wasn’t a dream.
I took a deep breath and slowly sat up, afraid to upset my stomach, and even more afraid of passing out again if I got up too fast.
Before I could respond, Mom slammed my door open and yanked me off the bed.
“Get in here and do the damn dishes!”
“I’m tired,” I said, pulling my arm out of her grasp.
I steadied myself and headed toward the bathroom, my bladder forever screaming for relief.
“Now!” she said, grabbing me again. “If you’re not going to go to school, you’re at least going to take care of things around here while I go to school!”
I pushed back. “Let me go!”
“You think you get special treatment because you’re knocked up? No ma’am, you’re going to do what you’re told. You made your bed, now—“
“Yeah, yeah, now I have to lie in it. So you’ve told me. I just need to pee.”
“You just need to do what I told you.”
I ignored her and pulled away again, but she tightened her grip on me, squeezing my arm.
“Let me go.”
I measured each word, anger rising but keeping my voice even.
She squeezed tighter and I pulled away harder. And then she raised her hand and slapped me in the face.
“Don’t you touch me!” I screamed, my free arm automatically covering my belly.
She released me and I saw that the hand that had been holding me also held a belt. Ah, she loved swinging a belt, though she seemed to love to swing whatever might be within grabbing distance.
The snap of it was minimal as I moved away from her, but the narrow hallway kept me trapped between the walls and her swinging. As she swung it at me, I grabbed it and held it. “Stop hitting me!” I screamed.
In an instant, before I even saw it coming, she had me by the wrist and whipped me around, locking my hands in place behind me with one hand, choke-holding me with the other, while scissor-locking one leg over my legs. In the middle of my shock, I realized she had obviously learned some new moves in her training to becoming a correctional officer.
I squirmed and bucked back with my head, but she was ready for me. She squeezed tighter. I was all of 100 pounds to her 200+, and I was no match. Plus, I was afraid of fighting back too hard. What if she hurt my baby? I could buck harder and get an arm loose, maybe, but what then? She still had me in a headlock.
“You better let me go,” I said through gritted teeth. Rage was filling every fiber of my body, boiling to the surface, and I was afraid of how I might respond. I was my mother’s daughter, after all.
She held tighter and tighter, her meaty forearm just below my chin. Finally, I relaxed my body and let all the air out of my lungs, allowing a little wiggle room. I lowered my head and thinking only of getting out of her lock, I bit down on her arm. Not hard enough to draw blood, but enough to shock her. She immediately let me go. Note to future inmates: my mother’s weakness has been revealed.
“You bitch! You bit me! I can’t believe you bit me!”
I jumped away from her as she came at me swinging again. The belt was somewhere on the floor wherever she dropped it, and I did not intend to be in the same spot when she retrieved it.
Running back to my room, I slammed the door and locked it, and then shoved a chair under the knob for good measure. I ran to the window and made sure it was locked too, and then closed the curtain. I crawled back into my bed and curled up into a ball, trying to get my breathing under control.
She banged on the door for a while, yelling at me, calling me names, threatening to call the police on me for biting her. I didn’t say a word back, which only drove her more crazy, but finally she gave up, and despite my best efforts, I soon fell asleep again. Normal everyday life wore me out, so a fight was just too much.
Before I fell off, I rubbed my belly and prayed to a God I wasn’t sure was out there to protect my sweet baby. No one, I vowed, would put their hands on me or my baby again.
Also see my second book on healing from my painful past — Of Scars and Tiaras
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