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Old 02-17-2019, 05:26 PM   #1
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Default Changing Memories

This story is inside my book. Equilibrium: When Tragedy Confronts Peace.

A little girl, 10-years-old, quietly tiptoes into her mother's bedroom carrying a rose she has plucked from the garden earlier that morning. She peruses the scattered pictures on the wooden dresser and embraces the one that is of her; squeezing it to her chest for a moment before placing it back on the dresser, face down. She feels sad and misplaced in this home; this isn't the family God should have put her in because thriving in this environment seems impossible.

She looks at her mother who is sitting in an old rocking chair by the window. It seems to be the only thing she does, day in and day out. Sitting stoically while staring long out the window, she seems to have become numb from the abuse at the hands of her husband. The little girl glances to the mirror and lifts up her shirt; revealing the bruises she received from her father the previous night. Touching one, she winces. She glances back at her mother before placing the rose on the dresser to attempt to soften the monster's heart.

She does this every day. It has become routine and the only way she has found to try to counter the pain she is feeling inside. The pattern has become one of survival for her mother and her. Anything different could upset her father and the balance that he believes he has created in the household. His own actions are not held to the same strictness because the alcohol decides for him his own schedule. The monster is random, unpredictable, and frightening.

Hearing her father wrestle under the covers in the bed, she quickly scampers out of the room, leaving her mother behind to face the monster that is soon to awaken. He's a big man, large, and intimidating by even his shadow that sometimes freezes her from its presence in the hall.

With a cough, he opens his eyes and looks over at the clock. He is late already and swears under his breath as he gets out of bed and proceeds to get ready for work. As he buttons his shirt, he looks to the corner where his shotgun stands and then to the dresser where family photos have been knocked out of place. He notices the rose on the dresser and turns to scan the bedroom for little footprints or any other sign of his daughter being there. Angrily, he sweeps the rose from the dresser and into the trashcan on the side. He straightens his shirt, glances at his wife in the chair then moves to the doorway to step into a more visible world.

As she hears the front door slam, a tear rolls down the wife's cheek but she stays sheltered within herself. She feels captive in this world he has created around them. She knows she cannot speak a word to him out of fear that he may hurt her daughter. She shames herself as she sits quietly, staring out the window. How could she let this happen to her, to her daughter? When did she become so trapped by his abuse that her words have fallen silent and her will has been crushed? She believes, though, that her silence is the only way she can protect her daughter. She believes she cannot speak a word to him in fear that he will hurt her daughter. She is protecting her with her silence but often she wonders if she is only protecting herself.

Upon hearing the front door shut and her father’s truck pull out of the driveway, she peeks out of her bedroom, feeling that it is now safe to come out. She scampers to the kitchen to make breakfast for her mother and herself, knowing that her mother will not eat it. But she hopes that one day she will so she continues the ritual each day. With a tray in hand, she returns to her mother’s room and places it on the dresser. “I brought breakfast momma.” She waits a long moment in hopes that this morning will be different. No response. She quickly finishes up her own breakfast before retrieving her mother’s dress from the closet.

She helps her mother remove her night clothes and extends the dress above her so that it slips gently over her head. Her mother responds by working her way into the dress and as her head peaks out of the neck hole, her daughter smiles at her with a compassionate gleam in her eyes. They share quick moments of love together as they tightly hug and her mother promises that she will find a way out of this mess. This is another part of the daily routine and the little girl knows that it will be the same tomorrow and then next day and the next day. Each day it becomes a failed promise.

She sits with her mother for a long time, reading to her and brushing her hair. Throughout the day she tends to herself by making lunch and doing daily chores around the house. She does not want to give any reason for the monster to show itself tonight. Glancing at the clock she quickly makes her way outside while there's still time; slowing as she approaches the garden she looks over her shoulder and can see her mother staring blankly out the window from her bedroom.

She proceeds to smell each one of the roses and kneels down in the dirt when she is finished. Broken thorn stems cut into her knees but she barely notices because the pain is so insignificant compared to the pain she experiences from his hand. Placing her hands together, she closes her eyes and softly prays. “Please, take me away from the monster or let him crush me." Standing back up, she brushes the dirt off her knees and runs back into the house and for her bedroom just as she hears the truck pull up.

As the day turns into night, her father sits, rooted in the kitchen chair. One drink, two, and before you know it, a 12 pack of beer has disappeared. The little girl stays clear of his path as best she can even though she has to make him dinner and clean up after. She manages to get her mother to eat a small amount even though she continues to remain out of sight in the bedroom. She slips quietly into her room and settles herself in for the night, hoping he drinks himself to sleep.

Finishing his last beer, he goes to his own bedroom and picks up his shotgun from its resting place in the corner. His clumsy attempt at being quiet startles his wife who has long retired to their bed. She opens her eyes to see him move towards their daughter’s room; finding strength from inside, she rises and quietly follows him out of sight. He moves into the little girl's room and sets the shotgun right at the end of her bed. Glaring down at her, he whispers to her, “Don’t you move."

The mother rushes in and pulls on his shirt, trying to stop him from continuing in his assault. She is pushed back and sits frozen, crying in the corner. The little girl turns her face in an attempt to lessen the impact of an expected strike which is all too familiar to her. She begins to shut out her surroundings to retreat into her mind as she has done many times before. She silently whispers her pray over and over again in her head. “Please take me away from the monster.”

As if it were answered, her father immediately loses his balance and falls to the floor, passing out before he can do anything else. Her mother stands up and rolls the body of the man she used to love over to keep him from choking on his own vomit, should it come to that…again. The little girl stays frozen in her bed as cold, sorrowful tears stream down her cheeks, watching her mother try to drag him out of her room and into the hall. This is all too familiar too. Once she manages to get him out of her room, her mother pulls her door closed but doesn’t look at her daughter. Instead, she hangs her head in shame and averts her eyes.

The little girl hits the floor on her tippy toes and she grabs another rose from her secret stash in the closet. Taking his shotgun left at the end of her bed, she places the rose into the barrel and slips quietly out of her room. She places the shotgun back into its resting place in the corner of her parent’s room. Her mother has gone outside for a cigarette. She can only hope that this small gesture of compassion can help to soften the monster’s heart. She starts to cry and feels hopeless asking herself, “Do monsters ever change?” She drifts off to sleep as she tries to choke back her tears.

In the early morning hours, the man awakens with a painful hangover as if he has been struck upside the head with a club. He walks unsteadily to the bathroom and finds his relief in some aspirin from the cabinet. Stepping back to his bedroom, he settles himself into the chair and notices the gun in the corner. He narrows his eyes to try to make out what is sticking out from the barrel. The petals of the rose catch his attention as they come into focus. He cannot, for the life of him, understand why something so innocent has been shoved inside the barrel of a gun. The contradiction baffles him in the moment and only adds to his discomfort with his hangover.

Sitting there, staring at the rose, he comes to the realization that the abuse has gone too far and that he is spinning out of control. As memories from the night before come flooding into his head, he feels intense shame at realizing just how far he may have gone. He plucks the rose from the barrel of the gun, leaving it to rest in its usual spot. Holding the rose gently, he walks to his daughter's room where he places it on her bed while she's still asleep. He scribbles out a note and secures it on the stem of the flower. It reads, “I heard you, and it all stops today."

The little girl wakes up with chills of fear left over from the previous evening. As she sits up, she spots the rose next to her with the note attached. Ignoring the rose for a moment, she climbs out of bed quietly sneaking up to her door. There, she glances up both sides of the hallway and feeling safe, she tip toes to her parent’s bedroom. Peeking through the small opening of the door, she sees her father sitting on the bed, hunched over and crying into his hands. She steps back softly and returns to her room, leaving him there, with his tears.
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Old 03-24-2019, 09:06 PM   #2
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Hello lullabyofsamara: Thank you for sharing this story. I see this was your first post here on PC. (I'm sorry you are only now receiving your first reply.) If you're still with us, I hope you're finding PC to be of benefit.
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Old 03-25-2019, 05:36 PM   #3
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