I don't think of her differently. She's just like all the other parents. I try to help her. Not change her. No ones perfect just some of us are better at showing it. Sometimes I wonder if my mom will ever show it. She’s not very strong. Its getting better. I’m not ok. 5 days. I’m only with her for 5 days then I go to Dad's for the weekends. I try to think back to much simpler times when our family was normal, but who am I to know what normal is. On Saturday I go to Dad’s. “What’s on your arms” he always asks. “If people at school are bothering you tell me, tell someone!” He doesn't know. I tell him that I fell or someone at school ran into me. He ‘s starting to be more pushy about it. I won't tell him. I wouldn't tell him if there was a gun to my head. Mom doesn't know what she's doing and I don't plan for anyone else to.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Getting called to the office in the middle of science. Mr.Johnson doesn't like anyone interrupting his class, so you can imagine how he felt when the phone rang to send one of his students to the office. I slow walk to the office as I have given up on what to think this could be about. In the office window I see my dad. This stopped me in my tracks as my dad never leaves his job. Not even for a nights sleep. Knowing how serious this must be I walk into the office cautiously trying not to draw any attention. In the office,I’m asked to take a seat in the chair next to my dad. “Luther what are those bruises on your arms and legs?” My principal asks me. I can't speak. I’ve gone all my life with these and everyone is just now noticing these.
“If someone in this school is hurting you, don't just take the hit you need to tell me or your mom or...” He stops mid sentence as the color in my face melted away at the mention of my mom.
“Your crazy! An absolute psycho.” His voice anything but gentle and loving. The voices start getting softer. I hear the door shut with a loud boom. That night I knew. I knew that it all wouldn't be the same. I knew that my parents didn’t love each other anymore. I didn’t think it would come so soon, though I wasn't surprised. Lying in bed that night I couldn't sleep. Over the next few months I don't know what happened to my mom. She was always so smart with her degree in law and always good at getting out of things. What had got into her? Maybe it was the thought of not having my dad. Maybe it was that in the same month she lost her job and lied when anyone asked. In court she fought for full time custody of me. When she failed for full time, she was not satisfied with weeknights. She's starting losing the last snippet of sanity she had left. I remember her getting angry. I remember the first hit. The first punch.
Getting out of that room was the happiest I’ve ever been going to science. The day dragged on for what seemed like a lifetime, when finally the bell dismissed everyone to go home. I went home that Monday to see a tiny, blue car parked in my driveway. I walk in and call for my mom who I knew wasn't home. Every night she comes home at 5:30, it couldn’t have even been 3 yet. Not to my surprise the responding voice was not my mom. It was a man's voice. Maybe early 40s. He steps in the hallway to greet me. Before he could speak I ran. I ran to the kitchen to call the cops on this strange man in my house. Phone in hand I start dialing 9-1-1. Before I could press the call button I hear him yelling. “I'm not here to hurt you or your mom.” Again at the mention of my mom the color in my face melts away, but faster this time as I get anxious on what could happen next. I don't speak but he can tell by my expression that he's gaining my interest and concern. When he gives up on an answer he speaks again. “Please set the phone down. I have legal permission to be here.”
Forcing myself to keep silent I set the phone down on the counter. “Listen, buddy, I need some answers about your family.”
I take a small gulp almost visable, but not enough for suspension, and tell him there's nothing to worry about. Now he’s the one with a loss for words at the sound of me speaking. “What's on your arms, Luther?
“How many times?”
“More than you could imagine.”
“How long have your parents been divorced?”
“Let me tell you a story. 6 years ago there was an escape from the Jackson County mental hospital. Every Night in her sleep she would repeat, ‘You’re crazy! An absolute psycho.’ Why do you think she did that?
No answer. “What day did you parents get divorced?”
“I don't keep track of things I don't have to worry about.”
“I guess we'll just wait then”
A frightening silence fills the room as the anticipation builds up inside of me. After some time I gave in the the piercing stare in his eyes and choked out the words, “June 14th”
“Fascinating! June 14th seems to be the night that a lady had checked into the hospital with a serious case of anger, anxiety, and PTSD. She was known to hit and kick when she didn't get her way much like a child.” I open my mouth to speak but am cut off before any words could leave. “She was clever though. always finding ways to avoid any suspicion thrown her way. So, to no one's surprise she escaped. She had a son too. Ya know what his name was? Luther.”