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If You Are Free, Then I am Free
The times before, it was just a threat. But this time, this time it is different.
My decision has been lingering on my mind for weeks now, and today was finally the day. I had forgotten to close my curtains the night before so the slight morning light was streaming through my horizontal plain white blinds. I awoke, and all I could do was smile. I had waited for this day for quite a long time.
“Lucy, it is time to get up!”
I rolled over and looked at my alarm clock; it was only seven o’clock in the morning. I un-wrapped my self from my cocoon, and placed my unprotected feet on to my plush pink carpet. I grabbed my sweatshirt and slippers and headed down the stairs. Each morning, I dreaded this because my room was my safety blanket.
“Lucy, what took you so long? I told you to get up ten minutes ago. I need you to clean this place up!” my step mother said sharply.
“Sorry. But where are you going? It’s seven in the morning.”
“That is none of your business, do what I told you to and make sure your little brother and sister eat.” Then, she was gone.
I took a deep breath and looked around and muttered to myself how much I hated this place. Looking around I realized how much I had to do before she returned and I did not know when that would be. Into the living I wandered to find my father passed out again, from the night before. I shook him slightly and told him to go up stairs to his own bedroom. He got up from the floor and looked at me.
“Why would you wake me up? Why? Didn’t I tell you before not to wake me up when I was asleep.” He growled in anger.
“Sorry Steve. I didn’t mean…”
“You didn’t mean to? Try to think before you do something.”
He smacked me sharply across the back of my head. All I could think of is when the last time I called him dad was. It has been years.
“I am awake now, so make breakfast you.”
Headed to the toaster, I glanced down the hall to see my younger sister sitting at the bottom of the stairs.
“What are you doing up so early?” I said softly.
“I heard daddy yelling again, and I couldn’t get back to sleep.” Jenna said in a shaking voice.
In an attempt to comfort here, again, I replied, “Oh! Jenna, it is quite alright. Your sister can handle it. Remember I told you that I am strong and that I am a big girl. Everything will be okay. “
“I can’t promise, but I will try.”
“That’ll do.” she replied with a smile.
She grasped my hand when I reached it out to her and we began to make breakfast. Jenna put the toaster in the toaster while I scrambled some eggs. We put together a plate for Steve, or daddy as Jenna says, and woke up my younger brother. The three of us, ate breakfast on the table in the kitchen while Steve stomped up stairs to eat. Garrett, my little brother, cleared all of the dishes, and we all set off to do our assigned chores.
The house was looking as I always like it to, clean and tidy but, it wouldn’t stay like that for long. Tonight, when my so called parents were sitting in the kitchen they would have no care about what they did to my hard work, they only saw one thing, alcohol. For five years everyday was like this for me, it may have been in a different order, but it all ran together. Today was different though. Today, I was leaving.
I got the kids dressed for the day, and then I headed upstairs to pack as much as I possibly could without being noticed. My little brother and my little sister sat on my bed, like so many times before, and watched television quietly together.
Jenna turned to me, “Why does daddy hurt you Lucy? Why does he like to say mean things to make you cry?”
“He just doesn’t know how to love me right; he doesn’t know how to love me like he loves you.”
“Well, you can have some of my love. Then maybe he won’t hurt you anymore.”
“That won’t help her Jenna.” Garrett shot back at her.
“Oh.” She said.
I felt like I should have said how okay everything would be, but I had said that enough. Just as I was finishing, I heard some stumbling on our wrap-around porch downstairs. “Stay put.” I said as I opened my door and snuck down the stairs. There on the couch, just as I expected was my step mother who had stumbled in drunk again. I turned to go back up the stairs and there was Steve, standing at the top.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking at what?”
“At your drunk wife.”
It shot back so quickly. I didn’t even think about it.
“What does it matter to you, what she does?”
This time he was so close to my face I could smell the cheap vodka on his breath.
“It doesn’t. I could care less about either of you.”
He smacked me. It didn’t sting.
“Is that all you have? Is that all you can do is hit me. You are drunk. You are stupid. You are not my father. I hate the person you are.”
I stormed past him. Under my bed were the bags that I kept packed for days like this. I grabbed them and my suitcase and told the kids to put their shoes on.
“Where are you going?”
“Away.” I replied.
“No you aren’t.”
I never stood up for myself but I was tired of holding back. He pulled my hair as I attempted to walk out of the door. I turned around and my fists were uncontrollable. They swung, and swung until I was free and he was disoriented on the ground. The kids were on the porch, where I told them to go.
“You will never have the chance to hit me, to call me names, to even think of me again. I am leaving. My mom is coming. You are not my father, you are nobody to me. Your other kids, well, they are leaving too. Try to stop me, and the police will be here. I have had weeks to make this plan, and only this day to follow through. You will not hold me back any longer and you will not have a chance to hurt them like you hurt me.”
He laid there. He had no idea what to do. I grabbed my bag, and walked out the door. We walked up the road a bit, where my mom met us.
“I was coming to get you.”
“I know, but something happened, I don’t want to talk about it, I just want to leave.”
“Alright.” She said with a smile.
We all packed into my mom’s rental car, and we went to my aunts house. There my step mother’s mom met us, and took the kids with her. I apologized over and over again. I told them I loved them more than anything in the world and that I would call them everyday. I gave them kisses on the cheek and sent them on their way. My mom and I got into our car, and we headed to the highway. One last time, I drove past the house. It seemed lifeless now. It seemed dim and unreal; I couldn’t help but smile. I was free, free at last. It was unlike anything I have ever felt before. It was over, and everything was fine. I, though, was free as bird and I was ready to spread my wings.