The darkness of my sleep quickly fades away. A chill fills my body. I so badly want to remain asleep, forever. The more I wake from my slumber, the more I curse God for not taking me in my sleep. He never answers my prayers. I so badly wish I were dead. I don't have the energy to live another day in "The House." I can't imagine another day with The Mother and her sinister games. I break down and cry. A waterfall of tears runs down my face. I used to be so strong. I just can't take it anymore.
Mother's stumbling brings me back to my dismal reality. I wipe my runny nose and my tears away. I must never, ever expose a sign of weakness. I take a deep breath and gaze upward. I lock my hands together before retreating inside my shell that will protect me for another day. Why? I sigh. If you are God, what is your reason? I just . . . I so badly want to know, Why? Why am I still alive?
Mother staggers out of her bedroom. Move! my brain screams. Move it! I only have a few seconds before . . . I was supposed to be up an hour ago to begin my chores.
I stand up and fumble through the darkness, trying to find the light switch to the garage. I trip over one of the legs to the army cot. By reflex, I reach out to the floor to soften the impact, but I'm too slow. A moment later the side of my face smashes against the cold cement. Bright silver dots fill my view. I smack the palms of my hands on the floor. I so badly want to pass out. I never want to regain consciousness ever again.
I push myself up off the cement as I hear Mother's footsteps leading to the bathroom. After flicking on the light switch, I snatch the broom before racing up the staircase. If I can finish sweeping the stairs before Mother catches me, she will never know I'm behind. I can win. I smile as I tell myself, Come on, man, go! Move it! I seem so out of breath. My mind races at supersonic speed, but my body responds in slow motion. My feet feel like blocks of cement. The tips of my fingers are so cold. I don't understand why I'm so slow. I used to be lightning fast.
Without thinking I reach my left hand out to the wooden rail that I use to pull myself up the stairs. I'm going to win, I say to myself, I'm actually going to make it! I can hear the gurgling sound of the toilet flushing from above. I quicken my pace. I extend my arm toward the rail. I smile inside. I'm going to beat her. A split second later my heart skips a beat as my hand misses the rail and grabs air. My body begins to wobble. The rail! Grab the stupid rail! As hard as I fight to concentrate, my fingers refuse to obey.
My world turns black.
A blinding glare pierces my eyes. My head seems as if it is stuck in a fog. I can make out a figure standing above me in front of a bright white light. ". . . what time is it?"
I try to shake my head clear. For a moment I thought I was staring at an angel sent to take me to heaven.
But Mother's sickening cough soon erases my fantasy. "I said, `What time is it?"' The sound of her voice nearly makes me pee my pants. Mother uses a soft, evil tone so not to wake up her precious babies. "Let's see how fast . . . you can move that sorry little behind of yours up here . . . now!" Mother demands with a snap of her fingers. My body shudders as I place the broom against the base of the stairs.
"Oh, no!" Mother beams. "Bring your friend with you." I'm not sure what she means. I spin around, then look back up at Mother. "The broom, you moron. Bring it with you."
With every step I take, my mind begins to plot a defense for whatever Game Mother has in store for the crime of not completing my chore on time. I warn myself to stay focused. I know she plans on using the broom as a weapon, either against my chest or face. Sometimes when we're alone, Mother likes to smash the end of the broom directly behind my knees. If she has me follow her into the kitchen, I'm dead. I won't be able to walk to school, let alone run. But if Mother keeps me on the stairs, I know she'll only hit me in my upper body.
From A Man Named Dave : A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness, by David J. Pelzer, Dave Pelzer. © October 1999 , David J. Pelzer, Dave Pelzer used by permission of the publisher, E.P. Dutton.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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