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Red, White, and Blue
I was always told the cops were for emergencies. I had an idea of when to use them. Even knew the number by heart. It’s what they taught you in elementary school. How to be prepared for an emergency. Long hours spent on those rash inducing green shards. Teachers walking down the line of children. “ Here”. That’s what we were taught to do. It never accrued that I would need to know how to do such boisterous things later in life. Who knew school would be useful.
As ten years of living go by at snail's pace things get more complicated. I found out what it feels like to cry over a real reason. Not over spilt milk. Candy on the floor. Grounded for two weeks. I joined the painful real world. The one my Dad told me about for years since I could remember. It stung. Like reality stabbed through my chest. I didn’t know how to act at first. Just merely ten years old. What was there to say at that age? What could I do to understand? Was this going to take a toll on me?
I didn't have a clue back then. They say you're in the real life when you turn eighteen. Leave your parents to worry. Continue to get an education. Make your own decisions. I formally disagree. It’s when you hear life changing words. The first moment you have to make a hard decision. When you don’t know what to do to make it all work out, so you have to sacrifice something. Be it your favorite toy. Your new bike.
Your family. “We’re getting a divorce.”. That’s when I grew up. Sitting on our plush brown couch. A family meeting was called. Before I could take my usual harsh breath. “We’re getting a divorce.”, I was ten about to take that big leap forward to eleven. I didn’t say anything. I just sat there thinking of what this means. I didn’t cry those begrudging tears. I sat. Unlike me, my sister was looking like she knew it was going to happen.
Why didn’t you tell me? “ Are you okay?”. That’s the Dad I know. Not the one that just spoke the words I didn’t comprehend. I shook my head up and down. My brain knew what was going on, but my body didn’t. “ Anything you guys want to talk about?”. What was there to talk about then. At that moment, what was it you were looking for? Shaking my head again this time left to right like a mindless zombie. I looked to my sister. I didn’t know if I was crying for help or needed a distraction. Whatever it was she didn’t give it to me.
I started to understand after a few days. The yells were like the washing machine in the next room. It was loud at the wrong times. It would start as a conversation about a lawyer and turn into a yell about the money. Slowly those begrudged tears fell. Each day I grew weak just to be strong around my parents and at school. I told myself “I’m not going to be that kid who’s grades just drop.”. In fact I stayed right where I was with my grades. My parents were happy with that. That I showed I was strong in tough times. So I built off of that. I stayed at the top of my game. Until it was time to go in my room. It was like I was a whole different person. Like I didn’t just come from a place I learned to love. All my teachers knew. I never cried in class or had to step out, but they knew.
Let me get this out of the way, seeing a counselor and being asked to tell who you rather live with is not fun. Life decision number one. Congrats. You are now officially in the real world. Life decision number two. Whether you get out of the car or not. It’s just your Dad. But your Mom is tell you not to. I sit tight in my mom’s Escalade still in the driveway. Before this started, we were headed to the movies. Just my sister, mom, and I. Why did you have to say something mom? Could have just left and enjoyed the movie.
The washing machine had started again. Just as we’re about to leave. Always at the wrong times. We went to the car anyway leaving my Dad to yell in the house alone. Why did you have to run outside? Why did you have to stand behind the car? Could you really hold back a car with your bare hands? Who knew. The washing machine just kept going. Sitting there in park. Dad behind the car just sitting on the rear. My mother panicking. My sister yelling some colorful choice words I’d been told not to say.
Why did you try to back up? The gruff grunts I hear coming from the rear burned my ears. I screamed louder than I have screamed even till this day. Still holding onto the back was my Dad. Why didn’t you stop there? Again the car begins to move backward. I hear a painful grunt from the rear again. I’m crying. Sobbing. Dad. It’s all I can say. “ Let my daughter see me. She wants to see me.”. Those exact words were said. “ If she wants to.”. I did more than anything but I couldn’t get out. My only way out was controlled.
Why didn’t you let go? You held on like you were holding onto your life. Again the car suddenly moves. I can see this time. All I see is my dad lose his footing and his foot go under the car. At that moment I couldn’t do anything but yell stop over again. Yet he still stands back up and continues to hold. “ Call the cops!”. Those words got me to break. At that moment I didn’t know the number like they taught me in elementary. There was no line to get into, I sat with my hands blocking the new found world out from ears reach. Until I saw my Dad open the back window and grab my mom’s top secret emergency case and leave. She chased him inside.
It was over until all I payed attention to were those red, white, and blue lights.