I feel the slap instantaneously, but it takes a moment for the pain to explode across my cheek. I fight every muscle in my arm not to touch it - that would be a sign of weakness. Although I don't need to touch the left side of my face, or even look in the mirror to know that this one’s going to bruise. And I'm almost out of concealer. I brace myself for the second blow, not really knowing where he’ll hit me, and not really caring either. As his foot connects with my shin, I focus on detaching myself from the situation - the only thing that has kept my sane. As if from above, I can see my body, covered in bruises from the beatings I've received over the past month, and I mentally add two more to the long list.
This time it was for the fork - the one fork that I missed while I was washing the dishes. Yesterday it was for cooking the wrong dinner. Each time I tell myself that I'll stand up to him this time, but then he stares me down with those half drunk eyes, bloodshot from smoking and I think better of it.
I know every family has their own story. Many fathers leave their families when things start to go south, leaving their children fatherless. But for me, it was my mom who left without a word - no phone number or address - just empty space where she used to be. At first we leaned on each other, my dad and I. But eventually he stopped using me as a crutch and turned to alcohol instead. This man he became - this monster who takes out his anger at the world on me - is not my father. But he’s all I have left, so everyday I am left to sweep up the shattered pieces of my heart, telling myself I'll glue them back together, but knowing the pieces are just a little too small for fixing.
The girl standing in the kitchen looks so alone and afraid, only betraying a fraction of what I actually feel inside. My one weakness is that I keep trying time after time to find the good in this drunk man I call my father. I try so hard that sometimes I find myself scolding me along with him about that one fork that my eyes skipped over.
He shakes me hard, and I lose focus and return to the moment. I am engulfed by a silence - I see my father’s lips moving to form words that he hurls at me, but I cannot hear him. It’s now that my grip loosens, and one tear spills over my cheek, tracking its way down to my chin. More follow it until silent tears are running down my face.
Sound rushes in, and I hear him screaming - something about how he never asked for this, how I am such a disappointment, how I should have done my job correctly. Then he sees me crying and starts yelling about how I should toughen up and stop acting like a baby. Though these words are no different from the ones he yells every time he gets mad, they still cut deep, reopening the wound above my heart. This time I admit to myself that he is broken beyond repair, that no matter how many times I endure his painful jabs, he won't ever get better.
His finger points out towards my room, and as I turn, pain lacing my every step, he gives me one last shove. I stumble into my room and slide to the floor, my back to the door and let my head fall to my hands, tears flowing freely now.
January 27, 2018