The Gray Abyss

May 30, 2011
It was three years ago, but the incident still plays back in my mind like the repetition of a broken record. Lucidly, I can hear my father’s belligerent and contentious voice pulsing in my ears, sending piercing chills down my spine. I will never forget that horrific day. September 14, 2009 altered the course of my life forever and obliterated my naïve sense of immortality.

My alarm clock rang with exceptional urgency that morning. Exhausted, I forced my blankets off of my warm body and went into my little sister’s room to wake her up. The bus ride to school took an hour so I was routinely fatigued in the morning. Plagued with violence, my neighborhood had a reputation of being occupied by indigent people of countless ethnicities. Walking along the streets, I desperately attempted to conceal my Latin ancestry because of the deleterious repercussions that could accompany its acknowledgment. I had personally witnessed lives being taken from innocent teens that were caught in racial violence.

On the way to the bus station, I firmly grasped my sister’s fragile hand, constantly peering over my shoulder at suspicious cars driving by. When we boarded the crowded bus, I chose to sit in the back because it maintained a secluded sense of security. A musty fragrance lingered in the rows and I opened my window to get some fresh air. However, the scent was engendered by a turbid layer of fog that ominously hovered over the streets. It consumed cars and buildings as they passed by, disappearing into an abyss of gray emptiness.

When I arrived in my first period class, I lethargically sat down and greeted my classmates. My English teacher, Mrs. Davis, habitually displayed contempt towards the lower-class students like me. Luckily, her odium for me was abated by my academic aptitude. Pursing her lips, she ordered the students to take out last night’s assignment. My chest tightened as I searched my backpack and could not find my essay. I could feel my stomach churn into tight knots as Mrs. Davis inquired why I did not have my paper. I explained to her that I must have left it on the bus on the way to school. Incredulous, she picked up her classroom telephone and began to dial my father’s number from the contacts. I pleaded with her to give me an extra day, but her inexorable manner revealed the feebleness of my appeal. Every ring vibrated my core and I prayed that he would not answer. When a man’s deep voice picked up the call, my mind raced between an infinite amount of possible scenarios awaiting my arrival at home. For the rest of the day, my focus lied on the inauspicious prospects the night would have in store. As I attempted to eat lunch, I suddenly became nauseous and could not bear to choke down another bite of my sandwich.

On the bus ride home, the potent smells of cheap cologne and air freshener became suffocating. I told my sister to go home with our cousin because I sensed that something bad was going to happen. Every step I took closer to my house was increasingly forced, as if a magnet was repelling me away. When I opened the door, the harangue began. I cringed at the awful faces my father made as he paced the room. He came so close to my face that I could clearly distinguish the prominent and coarse wrinkles that outlined his mouth. Then, my whole world went black and for an instant. It felt as though I had been devoured by that eerie abyss that had consumed the town that morning. A sense of separation overwhelmed me, as if I had left my body and was observing the scene from a stranger’s eyes. Suddenly, I became keenly aware of a steady, warm trickle down my face. I realized that my life would be changed forever.

I had anticipated that my father would punish me, but I never discerned that he was capable of such cruelty. The doctors informed me that I was supposed to have died from my injuries, but they could not comprehend that I had died the moment that my father laid his hands on me.





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