A Father's Hate

January 14, 2011
Her brother held her, tightly and protectively, as they both watched their father. He was hitting their mom again. The children could both smell the whiskey on his breath. Unfortunately, the scent was all too familiar to them.

“You lazy, incompetent, poor excuse of a woman!” he screamed at the top of his lungs.

“No, Christian, stop, please!”
But he wouldn’t stop. Blood ran down her cheeks, mixing with the tears, just as painful. The black eye from last week was still there, and, even in the cold, dark night, it was still visible to the small children.

“Zach,” she whispered, her young voice coming up from his chest where he was holding her, “Zach, I’m so scared.

“Me too, Tara,” he whispered back. “Me too.”

He hugged is sister so tightly, but a ten-year-old boy didn’t offer much protection to a scrawny seven-year-old girl. He knew that from experience. Just three days ago, their father had gotten very angry with them because they had gotten hungry and asked for food before dinner.
“You greedy imbeciles!” he had yelled. “You want food, I’ll give you food. Here!”
He had thrown a bag at them. A bag of dog food.
He had gotten even angrier when they didn’t eat it. “You ask for food, I give you food, and then you don’t eat your food! You two are the worst children on this earth!”
Tara had sniffled, but Zach had grabbed her shoulder. That was their secret signal. If he did that, then Tara knew that she had to work hard to keep the tears inside her. their father got very angry when any of them cried. Tara would have to wait until later, in her own room, where she could hide in her closet, and let it all out. Sometimes, her brother would join her and they comforted each other until they just couldn’t cry anymore, or they were afraid their father would find them. If he did. . .
They didn’t want to know what would happen. They knew what their father was capable of, but maybe not to the full extent.
Tara could not stop the tears this time, and, for once, Zach did not send the signal for her to stop. Instead, he cradled her head in his small chest, and hid her tear-stained eyes from the menacing ones of her father. He kissed her head through her soft, straight, mousy brown hair. Tara was a very pretty, sweet, smart young girl, and usually she was pretty good at hiding her tears. But sometimes, her young age really showed, and she would let a few tears escape. But she was only a little girl, alone, with only her brother, and it just became too much. She was grateful that Zach loved her and took such good care of her. of course, when their father was off getting drunk, it was only her, her mother, and Zach at home. During those times, they pretended to be a normal family, and that mommy had only tripped on the vacuum chord instead of getting choked by it.
But then, as always, he came home, and reality hit like a hard blow to the head. Their father was an alcoholic, and they were all trapped in his curse, no way of getting free.
Zach looked up and saw that their father’s back was to him and his sister.
“Come on, let’s go,” he whispered to her. she stood up slowly, and grabbed his hand. Soundlessly, they ran up the stairs, and into Zach’s room. He closed the door, but he knew that it would be useless. Their dad wouldn’t let them install locks, because then they would not let him in. No one had any protest, because that was exactly what they would do.
Zach looked around, and found what he was looking for. He lifted the wooden chair out from behind his desk, and wedged it under the doorknob.
“That might hold him for a while,” he said, turning back to Tara. “If he comes.”
“Zach, I’m really scared. Daddy’s really mad. What if he hurts mommy again?”
“I don’t know, Tara,” he said, looking into his sister’s big, tear-filled, brown eyes. “I just don’t know.”

As usual, the fighting died down after a few hours. By then it was midnight, and Tara had fallen asleep on her brother’s bed. He had put a blanket over her, and kissed her cheek. He was used to tucking her in, because his mother was usually passed out on the couch, too weak from pain and fear. And their father . . . well, he was in no shape to put a little girl to bed.
Zach got into the bed, careful not to wake his sister. But she was way to exhausted from the stress and sadness she had to endure every day. He put his arms around her. Even though she was three years younger, and there was no way she could do anything to help the current status of their lives, it was comforting for him to have her. It meant he wasn’t alone.
He shut his eyes, and tried to drift away into the utopia of the subconscious. That and school were the places that the Baker children could pretend to be just like anyone else. No one knew the truth. When they were in public, they pretended to e a normal family. It was like they were the same as everyone else. Too bad that wasn’t the case. Too bad that the inside wasn’t the same as the outside. Too bad that the inside had so many tears and so much blood.

Zach didn’t remember how or when he had fallen asleep, but he must have, because when he opened his eyes again, he was looking at the sun’s rays shining in through the window. He rolled over, and saw that Tara was still asleep.
“Tara . . . Tara, wake up,” he said, gently shaking her. she stirred softly.
“What is it, Zach?” she asked. “Did Daddy leave again?”
“I don’t know, but we had to get ready to got to school. Go to your room and get dressed. Then come right back here. I don’t want you to go down there alone if we’re not sure.”
“Okay, Zach.”
She got up, and Zach moved the chair away from the door so she could go across the hall to her room. She came back ten minutes later, her cloths changed and her long hair snapped back in a barrette. She had boots on her feet, and a black coat wrapped around her.
“I’m ready,” she said.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Together, the walked down the stairs. Their lucky stars were in alignment, it seemed, because their father had gone and there were two bowls of cereal waiting for them. Their mother was sitting at her place, smiling at them. If it weren’t for the many bruises on her face and arms, it would look almost . . . normal.
But they weren’t fooled. It was always the same. They would have a normal morning, go to school, go home, maybe had a relaxing few hours for some homework and dinner, but then the sun would set, and he would come home, and all hell would break loose. And the next morning, they would pretend like nothing ever happened.
But it did happen. It did, and those memories wee never going to go away. Any they had to suppress those feelings to live seemingly normal lives with other people. Little did all those people know of all the secrets of the pain and suffering behind their front door. But that was the way it had always been. That was the way it would always be, it seemed.
Zach and Tara ate their breakfast, and walked outside to wait for the school bus. It rolled around the corner, and stopped to let them on. They hopped up the steps, and sat together.
“Did you do all of your homework?” he asked her.
“Yes, I always do,” she replied.
“Just making sure.”
Tara never missed a homework assignment. Her teacher thought of her as a prodigy. But it was only that homework was none of the few normal things in her life, so she wanted it to stay that way.
The bus rolled in the school driveway. The doors opened, and kids piled out and into the school doors. Christmas was almost here, so there was a tree decorated with pretty ornaments that stood proudly on the hallway. Other children fidgeted in their seats at the sound of the holiday, but Tara could only feel glum and shame. Last Christmas, their father had gotten drunk, and, in his clumsy state, had knocked over the Christmas tree that they had worked so hard on. Well, that Zach, Tara, and her mother had worked so hard on. Their father was out getting drunk.
Tara pulled herself from the painful memories, and back to her language arts class. Luckily, she didn’t miss anything important.
“Okay, class,” Mrs. Cuviello said to them. “Today, in the spirit of the season, we are going to write Christmas stories about traditions you have during this joyous season! Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Hands began to shoot up with questions. “Yes, David?”
“I’m Jewish, so I celebrate Hanukkah,” he informed her.
“Okay, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, then you may write about the traditions you have for the holiday you do celebrate. All right, then, that should answer all of your questions – yes, Tara?” she asked when she saw a small hand still in the air. “What’s your question?”
“Well . . .um . . . my . . . my family doesn’t really have any traditions.”
“No traditions? That’s impossible! What do you do during the holidays?”
My father gets drunk, just like any other day, she thought but didn’t say aloud. But even the thought of it brought a tear to her eye.
“Tara? Tara, what’s wrong? Why on earth are you crying? Come outside, I need to talk to you. Class, you begin writing.”
Tara stood up, and walked outside, Mrs. Cuviello following her. she closed the door of the classroom and turned to her.
“Tara, what’s wrong? You have to tell me!”
But Tara shook her head. The tears were heavily flowing now.
“Tara, you can’t hold your feelings in like this. you have to let it out.”
“I can’t,” Tara said, wiping tears from her cheeks.
“Yes, you can. Please, tell me.”
“I can’t.”
“Why not?”
“Because Zach might not want me to.”
Mrs. Cuviello knew who Zach was.
“Well, do you want me to go and get Zach so we can all talk? Then will you tell me what’s wrong?”
“If Zach agrees.”
They walked to the office, and sent out a page for Zach Baker. Within minutes, the office door opened, and he walked in.
“Tara, what’s wrong?” he asked when the saw his sister. He was instantly worried for her. “What happened?”
“She wants me to tell her what’s wrong,” she said.
“What is wrong?” he asked, confused. Tara only needed to say one word for him to understand.
“Well, do you want to?” he asked sincerely. “You can if you want to.”
“I don’t want to unless you want me to,” she said.
“Tara, tell her. I can’t see you live like this anymore. I can’t live like this anymore.”
“What? What are you two talking about?” she asked, puzzled.
“Our dad,” Zach said, looking down.
“What about your dad? Is he hurt?”
“No, but he hurts our mom,” Tara said. “Everyday, he comes home drunk, and beats up our mom, and sometimes, us. It makes me scared for me, my brother, and my mom.”
Mrs. Cuviello sat in her chair, a shocked expression on her face. She didn’t know what to say. After what seemed like ages for Tara and her brother, she finally opened her mouth again.
“How . . . how long have you two lived like this?” she asked.
“All of our lives,” Zach replied.
“Oh, Zach. Oh, Tara. I had no idea.”
“No one did. No one ever did,” said Zach, a touch of anger in his voice.
“I was too scared to ever tell anyone,” Tara said, her voice a wistful tone.

Zach and Tara didn’t go home on the bus that day. Instead, their mother came to them. Usually, she wore clothing and make-up to cover the cuts and bruises from her husband. But today, for the first time since she had married him, she wiped off her make-up, and removed her jacket, revealing it all.
Police were called. an investigation was conducted. Divorce and restraining orders were filed. Tara and Zach were taken away with their mother. A pone call came telling them that their father had been arrested for domestic and child abuse.
For a moment, no one spoke. Then a strange sound came from Tar’s lips. It was a laugh. A joyous, kind-hearted, child-like laugh. And, at that moment, they knew that everything was going to be okay.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

introducingshelby said...
Jun. 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm

It almost made me cry o:

Your pieces (or at least the one's I've read) are always... very, very emotional. I'm into that sort of stuff, so this is really good to read..

zero1 said...
May 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm
annamrie, its brianna... this is one of your best pieces yet keep it up.
Hammi said...
Apr. 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm
This is very moving 
cynthiaaavee123 said...
Apr. 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm
omg annmarie this is sooo good!!!! <3 <3
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