"Oh, what's the matter? Does the little insect have a sore throat? Oh well, that's just too bad!" Mother smiles. I can see her lips moving, but I can barely make out what she's saying. After another quick squeeze, Mother lets go of her hold. Without permission, I rub my neck, gasping for air. Somehow I know she's not done with me--not yet. A second later I nearly lose my balance as Mother snatches the broom from beside me. I automatically tighten my upper body. "This," she says, "this is for cheating on your chores. I've told you a hundred times that you are to get that miserable butt of yours up and working before I get up. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
I hesitate, not knowing how or if I should respond.
"I said, is that clear?"
"Yes . . . ah, yes, ma'am," I stutter in a hoarse voice.
"Tell me, what is your name?" Mother asks as she tilts her head upward in a show of supremacy.
"`It,`" I answer in a sheepish tone.
"And what is `Its' function?"
"Ta . . . ta . . . ta do . . . do as you command and stay outta . . . outta trouble."
"And when I say, `Jump'?"
"I ask, `How high?"' I reply without thought.
"Not bad. Not bad at all!" Mother leers. "But I do think It requires another lesson. Perhaps this will teach you . . . teach It. . . ."
I can hear a swishing sound. I brace my arms for the impact. My upper body is rock solid, but I have no way of telling which direction the sound is coming from. A jolting thud strikes the side of my neck. My knees buckle as I turn inside the doorway and lean against Mother's body. Without thinking I reach out to Mother. Her eyes shine with pleasure. She slaps my hands away. As my feet slip, my head jerks backward. I can feel my throat collapse the same way it did when Mother had me swallow teaspoons full of ammonia. I fight to swallow a breath of air, but my brain is too slow to respond. My eyes lock on to Mother's. "So, do you still think you can fly?"
I glance down and see Mother's hand in motion. A moment later I can feel myself floating, my arms flung above my face. Suddenly, a rush of air fills my chest as the back of my head smashes against the staircase. I reach out, but I can't stop my body from bouncing backward down the stairs. At the bottom of the staircase, my chest heaves; I want to find a bucket and throw up. At the door above me, Mother bends over with laughter. "Look at you! You're a hoot!"
Her face becomes taut. In an ice-cold voice Mother says, "You're not even worth the effort." With a jerk of her hand she flings the broom at me, then slams the door shut. My only form of protection is to close my eyes. I don't even bother to turn away or cover my face. I can hear the broom topple down the stairs before missing me completely.
Alone in the garage I let go and cry like a baby. I don't care if Mother, or anyone else in the world, can hear me. I have no dignity, no self-worth. Rage slowly builds inside my soul. I clench my hands together and begin taking my frustration out on the floor. Why, why, why? What in the hell did I ever do to you to make you hate me so much?
With every blow I can feel my strength drain away. The whitish-yellow garage light begins to fade as I lose consciousness. Without thinking of Mother catching me, I lie on my side, pull my shirt over my face, bury my hands between my legs, and close my eyes. Before I pass out, I clasp my hands together and mutter, "Take me."
"Wake up! Wake up, I tell you!" My eyes flicker open. I'm trapped in a mental haze as I stand in front of Mother in the kitchen. I have no idea how I got here. And somehow I know it's almost time for me to run to school. My mind struggles to recall why I keep losing track of time.
"I said, wake up!" Mother barks. She leans over and slaps my face. I'm fascinated that I can no longer feel the pain. "What in the hell is wrong with you?" she asks with some concern.
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.
The Kopp Sisters Return!
One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.
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