“Don’t look at me with disgust in your eyes. If you don’t know my name, then you don’t know my shame.“
My memory goes back to early days and I see it all. It comes in flashes like photographs being snapped. The music playing; something about “flashlight,” and Momma laughing and dancing. The smoke, the smell that floated the room and made my eyes burn. The more it burned the louder they became. I was in my crib all the time watching them. They never talked to me. They just partied as if I wasn’t there.
Momma sleeps all day. I want to eat, I want to play, I want to be loved but she won’t get up, and all I do is cry. She wakes up mad, not to feed me but to knock me across the room.
“Shut the fuck up little bitch, I ain’t cooking for no crying ass baby, not a damn thing.”
I cry harder, even though I’ve heard this before.
“Stupid child. Keep pissing on yourself funky. Get your stankin’ ass away from me.”
Nobody ever showed me how to use the bathroom and my soiled underwear were stuck to my skin like another part of me. My privates burned. And my tears were dry. All I wanted was my Momma. I saw her there, but she wasn’t present.
My stomach was a ball of rumbles, but food was never around. I was so hungry, I started eating the walls. It was chalky, and not that good but I ate it until my stomach burned, and the colored warm liquid running down my legs was my normal. I found a can of beans one day, and tried to cut the can open with a knife. I remember a big commotion and a lot of blood. Screaming followed by fire trucks and police men. Where is momma? I’m laying on a firm bed with clean white sheets. My hand is bandaged, and a lady in a white uniform says that I had sliced the tip of my finger off real good with a butcher knife. Yes I remember the pain, the blood gushing out, and then I faded away.
I’m staying with Miss Odessa now. She is Momma’s friend. She agreed to take me for a while because Momma wasn’t doing right by me. Miss Odessa is a big woman and she is full of love and hugs and smells of Johnsons baby powder. She feeds me until my stomach aches but, I can’t stop eating. I learned how to use the bathroom and count from one to one hundred. I love the warm bubble baths and the clean underwear I get every night. Life was good with Miss Odessa and then, Momma came back. She begged Miss Odessa to take me back saying, “she’s my only daughter Odessa, and a girl child needs to be with her momma.”
Miss Odessa reluctantly agreed. She didn’t want to, but Momma’s threats reminded her that she had no real claims to me.
“Ella, If you take this child from here, you bets do right by her. You got ta feed and bathe her, and give her some love. I see you all fixed up girl, with your fine suit and hat on, and you got a shiny new ring on your finger which I’m assuming it means you got a new man in your life. That’s good I guess, a woman needs a man in her life, but you come strutting up in here uprooting this child like this, you sure better do right by her because next time they might lock your behind up in the jailhouse.”
Momma grabbed my hand and gave Miss Odessa a “bitch please” kind of look. I didn’t want to go with Momma even if I still loved her. As we walked up the dirt road, I looked back until I couldn’t see Miss Odessa no more. My eyes were full of puddles as I waved goodbye to the only somebody who ever showed me any kind of love.
This new man of Momma’s is a scary creature. He smiles all the time, and his smile stretches the full length of his face. Momma picks me up and plants me on his lap and says,
“Baby, this here is your new daddy. He’s gonna take care of us. Look at Momma’s pretty ring. He loves us, but he loves me best, ain’t that right Rufus baby.”
Momma drops a wet kiss on my new daddy’s lips and his tongue shoots down her throat and they continue to kiss for what seems like forever. While he is kissing Momma, his hand travels up my dress and down my panties. I jump off his lap and I quickly stood behind momma. Momma pushes me away and tells me to go into the kitchen and eat the box of cereal on the counter while she takes care of Daddy Rufus. I watch them leave and I sit there at the table with my dry cereal.
The room Momma has me in is more like a closet. I’m sleeping on a cot, and there isn’t any room to play or even stretch. I hear a sound like daddy Rufus is beating Momma’s brains out with a belt. It confuses me, because Momma seems to enjoy it. I hear her saying,
“punish me Rufus, that’s right Daddy, I deserve it.”
I drifted off to sleep and woke up suddenly to the sound of heavy breathing and a hand covering my mouth. Even in the dark, I could see that wide smile and I sure hoped he wasn’t about to whoop me like he did momma.
“Little girl, Daddy got a special treat for you. You do good and I will get you some candy tomorrow and maybe a quarter. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t right. I knew I hurt all over. I couldn’t make a sound. He said something about igniting my passion. I didn’t even know what that meant. I closed my eyes tight and dreamed of death. Flowers, caskets, and death. I prayed for it all night, but death did not come.
It was always the same. I ate dry cereal everyday, unless Daddy Rufus gave me a special candy treat. I could barely walk anymore. Something was wrong in my private area. At night, he came to my small room and breathed heavy and jugged, and pushed on me some more. I always tried to die. I could see the casket, see me laying in it. The desire was so strong but try as I might, death would not come. If I can’t die, I have to tell Momma so she can make him stop. I told Momma about what her new Daddy had been doing to me every night. I waited for momma to throw him out. To beat him upside the head with a frying pan or something, but she turned on me.
“You little slut bitch. Tried to come in here and take my man, what the hell would he want with your stankin’ ass huh? Lying whore. I’m getting you the hell out of my house. And you not going back to Odessa, you going to the state. I regret the day your ugly ass was born.
The story above is a work of fiction. It is purely of MY OWN imagination and based on a poem I wrote over a year ago after witnessing a young mother berate her small children to death on a public metro train. It invoked ugly thoughts in my head and made me look at the young mother with disgust. Yes, I judged her. Every one on the train judged her. And somehow, the other people’s judgements of her made me feel uncomfortable. I took out my notebook and started writing and here is what I came up with.
Don’t look at me with disgust in your eyes. If you don’t know my name, then you don’t know my shame.
She gave birth to me, but she was not present. She disappeared from my life before I could ever call her Momma.
She left me to cradle in my own arms. Singing lullabies to myself at night, and eating dry cereal in the morning.
From pilar to post.
In her sights and out again. She gave me up and came back again. This time wearing a shinny ring and holding hands with a new daddy. She said, “from now on baby, life is good”.
He bounced me on his knee and tickled my fancy with treats.
He tried to ignite me with passions a young girl should never be made to understand.
Closing my eyes tight.
Ugly, terror, horrifying, imagery of golden lilies and death caskets.
I want to die.
Eyes tightly shut, but try as I might, death will not come.
I tell Momma to remove that shiny ring from her finger because her new found daddy is a new found disaster.
In one swoop.
She packs my life, my dry cereal and sends me away never to return.
A new place, hardly a home.
Now I’m fighting, stealing, screwing, and strutting.
I light my own flame, and I am high.
I powder my own nose, and I can breathe.
I am sick by morning, and thirsting for more powder and flame by night.
No 28 days til the next one, but 9 months later a new life is born.
He sings lullabies to himself while eating dry cereal.
I’m here, but I’m not present.
You see, we all have a story, a past, and some of us even have some shame. When we witness these ugly public displays, we don’t think about how that person ended up that way. Well, I thought about it that day. I wondered, what happened to her in her life to make her scream and yell at those babies like that. When I thought about it, the characters just came alive in my head. If nothing else, I hope thought is given to the numerous children, and adults who were once children and the effects that abuse may have had on their lives. As an advocate against domestic violence, I don’t think any excuse of why it happens will ever make it ok. I’m just exploring some common factors that sometimes correlate with violence. I’m sorry if the story is difficult or sad, but that’s the only way real change begins. We have to get uncomfortable and make something happen. Please let me know any thoughts you have about the subject, and stay tuned for part two.
Thanks for reading.
Peace and love,
Copyright © 2013 D.Lavon- All rights reserved