A Family's Sacrifice

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I woke to the sound of thumping rain on the rooftop above my bed. It was late, the middle of the night actually, but it was okay though because I wasn’t really sleeping anyway. I was lying under the warm quilt that my grandmother had made me before she passed away. My eyes were closed and my room was dark, but I wasn’t sleeping.

Instead, vivid memories ranging from earlier today to a few months ago exploded in my mind. The peaceful look on my grandmother’s face when she slipped away from us, the tears in my mother’s eyes when Dad boarded the plane to Iraq, and the fury on her face when she was drunk. I hated when my dad left because he left neither of us the same.

Without my dad’s companionship, my mother had to find another partner. Eventually she found it, in liquor. Every day when I get home from school I am greeted with the same scene. My mom laying on the couch in the living room staring blankly at a television screen. The pictures moved and the sound was on but it made no difference to her. All around her she was surrounded by half empty whiskey and vodka bottles. Truthfully, I would rather have it that way than when she’s more aware. She’s more dangerous then.

Sometimes liquor isn’t enough of an outlet for her, so she has to channel her anger somewhere else. Usually that target is me. Her anger builds up and she lets go by making her fist connect with my body. I love her but she scares me sometimes. I worry for me and for her. I worry for my clueless father who sends hopeful letter halfway across the world.

The thoughts abuse my mind and eventually I have to crawl out of bed. I stand in front of my full length mirror in my shorts and tank top. No matter how many times I see myself exposed like this, I am still horrified. My arms and legs are covered in bruises. A mess of purple, blue, black, and yellow. A mess like everything else in my life. I try to avoid them, but its impossible to do that all the time.

Usually my jeans and hoodie that has become my everyday outfit would cover them, but not now. Sickened, I walk back to bed, go under the blankets, and shut my eyes. I remember only a few times that I have ever let my guard down about my bruises. When I forgot and wore my t-shirt over to my friend’s house, when I roll up my sleeves to write, when I change for gym.

It’s the same no matter what. “I fell down the stairs”, “I tripped on the sidewalk”, or “I fell off my bike”. Some buy right into it while others are suspicious, but they never say anything. I don’t say anything either. Maybe I should but I don’t. Through everything I don’t want her to get into to trouble, to get hurt. I don’t want to leave her. Even though it hurts, to stay she needs me. If I left I don’t know what would happen to her.

I don’t blame it on ,y dad even though it didn’t start until he left. Without him everyone has ha to sacrifice. My dad risks his life everyday for his country. My mother endures constant torment that drives her to drinking and hitting. Me? Well I live with the thought of losing my dad abusing my mind and my mother’s anger and sorrow abusing my body. I’ll be okay though. Like I tell everyone, I’m fine. Or at least I will be.

Finally the thoughts slow down and I fall asleep listening to the thump, thump, thump of rain hitting a roof.





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