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My life is one never-ending nightmare. Every night I toss and turn thinking about the atrocities I have just witnessed. I lost respect for my Father the first time he hit my mom. I was three years old.
Evenings at my house were all the same. I would get home on time after school, I didn’t dare be late, and my mother would be busy in the kitchen making supper. I did my homework diligently and prayed that daddy would be home late tonight. If supper were not on the table, ready for him when he got home, there would be hell to pay, even though my life was already torture.
Tonight was different. From the moment he marched through the door, I knew that it was going to be bad. We ate supper in silence. I barely even noticed what I was eating. When the dishes were clean and the kitchen was tidy, the first punch flew. Even after I was in bed I still heard my mother’s muffled cries echoing through the halls. Like I said, I don’t get much sleep.
When I wake up in the morning, I always sigh with relief to know that I am getting out of this house. I usually drive to school but today I’ll walk. The cool, crisp morning air fills my lungs as I step onto the front porch of our old Victorian house.
School to me is my refuge. People would call me the quiet girl but I am in with the popular crowd. It wasn’t like I was desperate to be a part of it; they actually sort of found me. It is probably my designer jeans, my classic beauty and my long blonde hair that were my ticket in. Father’s like mine would not have their daughters in rags regardless of how horrid they treat them at home. He had to make his family look perfect. My friends probably have no idea who I am. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know who I really am.
The bell rings and people bolt for the door, but I take my time to pack up my things. I am never in a rush to get home. When I walk out the front doors of the school the warm autumn breeze caresses my face. It is only a short walk home but at this time of year, it’s breathtaking. The ancient oak trees that tower over me are just beginning to change colours. The orange and scarlet leaves provide me with a canopy and I feel safe for the first time in a long time.
When I finally reach my house, I notice my father’s car is already in the driveway. I walk up the steps, trembling at the thought of what lies on the other side of the door. My mother won’t have been expecting him this early so supper will not be finished. I open the door and shut it as quietly as I can. The house is completely silent. Fear shivered down my spine. Was this the day Dad finally cracked completely?
It was bad. I found mom lying on the icy concrete of our basement floor. She was unconscious at the foot of the stairs. Dad had flown into a rage when supper was not ready and pushed her down the steep stairs. I sat with her until she came to, and then helped her to her feet. It’s funny how this seemed so normal.
That night I lay in my bed, staring up at the ceiling. My thoughts whirred about my head. Even when I closed my eyes to try and escape it, I saw my father’s fist come down on my mom again and again. My desire to leave this place burned inside me but I could never leave without my mom.
Without much sleep last night, it is almost impossible to focus at school. In second period, my head falls from my hand as I nod off during the lecture. Nobody wakes me until the bell rings and I get up slowly to walk to math class. People greet me in the hallways as I walk and I respond with a smile. How easy it is to put on a disguise. If only they knew what my life was really like, would people still envy me? Would the popular girls still gossip with me?
I take my seat at the back of the class. Immediately the teacher places a test on my desk. Oh my god, I totally forgot to study. I have to work hard to get good grades because for me they don’t come easily.
When I finished the test I knew I bombed. I will pretend it doesn’t bother me. When people ask me how I did I will just shrug it off. Every day I put up a front. School is a masquerade. Who is really behind the mask?