Clatter | Teen Ink


June 13, 2015
By Gaby_ BRONZE, Santo Domingo, Other
Gaby_ BRONZE, Santo Domingo, Other
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I was woken up by a sharp clatter. It spun around the kitchen before being shattered by my mother’s scream. I slithered out of my covers and let myself peek under the door only long enough to see what I’d always see. To be blinded by the light that dripped from the kitchen even though it was two in the morning. To be stung by that familiar smell of blood and sweat. I peeked, but tried to mute her pleads.  I could even feel the broken pieces of ceramic crunching between my teeth. I ran back to bed and let the covers drown me.

No one woke me up again to go to school. No one had to. I laid in bed all night waiting for the hurricane to cease. When it finally did, I let myself look at what was left of the kitchen. The broken plate that prompted the storm was still scattered on the floor. The cupboard was still stained with wine. The lights were still on.

I went out to get the newspaper, like I always do, and sat on the grass for a few minutes, something I rarely do. It was nice to look at the homogenous row of houses. Ours blended right in. All I had to do was block out the hurricane that lived inside. I bet that’s why the neighbors never say anything. It’s easier to buy umbrellas and close your eyes.

“Phillip!!” Mom yelled as she stood in the doorway, “Daddy’s waiting for the newspaper!”

I ran back inside with it clutched under my arm.

“Thanks boy,” Dad grinned, as he shuffled my hair playfully.

I simply smiled and stood there like a dog wagging its tail. I didn’t say anything, I never do.
  Mom thinks it’s because I don’t know how to. She doesn’t know it’s more like I can’t. That’s why she sends me to a special school. She’s hoping special teachers teach me how to talk. We go over the alphabet everyday at that school. I write all the vowels five times a day. We have to sit in a circle and watch our teacher pronounce the words ‘apple’ and ‘zebra’ exaggeratedly. They try to make us repeat them. I never do, because I never can. My throat starts practicing boy scout knots on itself and the words never seem to come out. There’s just already so much noise I don't think I’ll be able to handle my own.

Dad does his morning routine before leaving. After he drinks his coffee, he kisses my forehead once and whispers ‘be good’, exaggerating each phoneme. Then he brings my mother into his chest and kisses her. Occasionally adding a ‘sorry for last night’. My mother smiles longingly. Love-struck. Of course, this only happens when the monsters have already left him by morning. They take over his body at night, creep into him through the wine. I’ve tried to throw it away, but the bottle always seems to find its way back to his hand.

It was when I was around 7 that I began noticing a trend, between the fighting and the drinking. The noisiest nights were always after he drank syrup-colored wine with ice, every wednesday. One day, before leaving to school, I crept into the pantry, grabbed the bottle by its thin neck and hid it in my backpack. I could feel it swinging from side to side like a pendulum on my back. The whole way there all I could could think about was how calm everything would be that night. How I finally wouldn't let them win, the monsters. I threw the bottle near a river. I expected it to shatter, but it simply sunk slowly and silently.

That evening, I was so flooded by bliss I even watched tv with the sound on for the first time in three years. I meant to tell her something then. “You will be safe tonight” The words never made it up my throat, but I knew she would know; I told her with a kiss. Never had I’d been so wrong.

All I could hear that night was ‘Where did you hide it?’. The phrase repeated itself over and over in my head. My mom whimpered in between every slap or thump.It was unbearable. With every punch he threw at her, I would writhe in pain. I wanted it to stop.  My hand rattled as I held the doorknob. I wanted to tell her I was sorry. I wanted to tell her it was my fault. I wanted to tell him it was in the river. I wanted him to go look for it and for the first time, I wanted him to drown.
           *                               *                               *

I was coming back from school when I heard the clatter again, but this time, it was as if the whole kitchen were an orchestra. The Grand Finale. But my mother’s scream wasn’t there to drown the rest of the noises. I peeked through the window; I didn’t dare open the door.

That’s when I saw my mother dangling from my father’s hand. She was the color of snow. My hands shook violently. It was as if an earthquake took over my body, its epicenter located beneath my chest. It continued, as all the knives, pots and pans fell out of place. And I had the feeling my mom wouldn’t be able to stop it this time.
At first it was stiff and inaudible. A croak. The words were delayed, as they tried to push their way out of the crowd. But when they finally did, I felt how my own voice spilled out of my mouth, each syllable reverberating within my throat. It was the noise above all noises, shatterproof and never ending. It was the new clatter.

The author's comments:

With this piece I hoped to shed light on how devastating abusive relationships can be for children, and how hard it is for them to break the silence. 

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