“CLICK CLACK, CLICK CLACK” That was the sound my mom’s boyfriends boots made when he walked through a room. He was a motorcycle enthusiasts and LOVED his steal toe cowboy boots with the spurs. I was three, almost four when my mom moved in with him. I knew nothing about what a father was or what he should behave like. All I knew was we lived in a home, like a family. He was kind of strict. He insisted I make my own bed and had high expectations of how it should be done. I had actually gotten quite good at it.
One morning after I made my bed I went into their room and they were kissing. At three it wasn’t weird, it was just something I didn’t understand. So, I hopped in the bed between them and with my tiny three year old curiosity I asked, “what were y’all doing?” He smiled and said “it’s called a French kiss, you want me to show you?”
I looked at my mom for approval, still not sure what we we’re taking about. She smiled so sweetly! I’ll never forget it, like she was one of those TV show mom’s. You know, the ones everyone said at least once in life “I WISH that was my mom.”
If I had only known what this man was capable of…. but how could I?
She shrugged her shoulders and with that sweet motherly smile she replied, “It’s up to you baby.” She then brushed my hair behind my ear for extra comfort. All I knew at that point was my mom, whom I loved so deeply, implied it was ok. There was no one more beautiful than my mom in my eyes. Feeling safe and secure I simply replied “ok!” I turned to him and he leaned in quick. I felt his lips on mine and nothing! No alarm, no internal instinct, nothing in me warned me that this was all wrong. Why didn’t I know this was wrong?
Then I felt his tongue go in my mouth 🤢😨
I may not have understood what was going on, but at the tender age of three I knew I didn’t want this man’s slimy tongue in my mouth. I jerked back and yelled “ew! That’s gross! You guys are weird!” I hopped of the bed and ran to my room. I had a decent vocabulary at an earlier age. I could usually express myself with ease. But this was so yucky and uncomfirtable I didn’t know what to call it. When I called it weird, it was the only word I could think of to describe that moment. But what I felt, was disgusted….
My mom and Scooter argued a lot, and while I hated the sound of him yelling at my mother, I still loved him. I was too young at the time to understand how they yelled and screamed was not normal. All I knew, was that it hurt my ears. One night, I could hear them arguing about me peeing in the bed. My moms life was so chaotic that she hadn’t really had time for potty training.
With my 4th birthday right around the corner he thought it was high time my mom took stiffer action to speed up the process. 😳
A month or so went by. My mom worked harder on potty training me, and I had become an ace at making my bed. My 4th birthday came and went. Even though it was just us, it was pretty amazing! I got so many new toys!! I remember this one toy… It was this jungle toy that had a bright purple hippopotamus and it made the most amazing sounds! I had never seen or heard one before. I was fascinated by it! I would play it over and over and get lost in it for hours.
If only someone had told my tiny hands that my new favorite toy would be gone very soon.
About a month later the worst happened. I woke up one day from a horrible dream and I was covered in sweat. So, I jumped out of the bed and went straight to the potty, like a big girl. I remembered! Mom always said to try to go as soon as you wake up. Thats exactly what I did, but nothing. I didn’t have to pee. At least, not yet.
I would soon find peeing uncontrollable 🙁
My mom was at work and Scooter was still sleeping. So, I quietly crept back to my room only to find myself riddled with fear! I realized it was not sweat, I had peed the bed! What was I going to do? Was he finally going to spank me like he had promised? Mom wasn’t home, so what was stopping him? In a panic I made my bed ever so perfectly. I stood there staring at the bed for what felt like an eternity trying to decide what to do. What if he finds it? He said he would take care of me next time I had an accident.. And as jacked as it sounds, I didn’t want to make him upset. I loved him…
My stomache started growling, and like any four year old my focus instantly switched to filling my belly. I tip toed to the kitchen, inched a tall chair to the side of the fridge, climbed it like a tree in the jungle and grabbed a box of cereal from the top of the fridge. I moved like a little ninja. Climbing on counter tops, grabbing my dishes, and even got the milk. I was rather proud of myself. I thought “so what if I peed in my bed. Look what a big girl I am! I’ll tell mom what happened when she gets home. She’ll know what to do.”
I thought my mom would save me, when in fact, I would be the one saving her 😔
I patted myself on the back as I confidently walked myself into the living room. I set my big girl bowl on the coffee table and turned on some cartoons. Tom and Jerry!! Oh this morning was just getting better! Or so I thought..
“CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK” My heart dropped! How had I not heard him wake up. My entire body started shaking and I begged whoever was listening “Please don’t let him look in my room… please oh please!” He moved faster than I could finish my prayer. “CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK!” He went straight to my room. I still had a spoon full of cereal in my mouth. “Melissa, you up?” And then silence. All I could hear was the jingle of his boots moving around my room. What sounded like a full sprint of click clacks turned into my mother’s monster standing between me, tom, and jerry. Oh if I’d only known! Maybe I would’ve ran.. Then again, I felt like a 10 ton brick of fear glued to the floor.
He asked me with a stern voice, “did you pee in your bed?” I couldn’t speak. I was choking on the beat of my own heart and I still had cereal in my mouth. It was as if I had completely forgotten how to swallow. Why couldn’t I swallow? With crocodile tears in my eyes I shook my head no. What was wrong with me. I begged my body to move. Fight or flight was kicking in and all I wanted to do was fly, but my body was paralyzed! Why couldn’t I just fly? “Just sprout wings and fly Melissa”, I thought.
There was a wave of fear, destruction, and pain after that.
He pushed the coffee table out of his way and cereal went everywhere. I finally swallowed, perhaps out of shock, but there I sat, frozen still. He yelled “I said, did you pee in your……”
If anything up to this point has made you want to stop reading, I implore you to finish now. Because from this moment forward, my life will change forever.
As he said the word “your” I heard the jingle of his boot lift from the ground. He reared it back as far he could as he yelled “BED!”
It was like a boombox to my ears and before I could utter a word from my mouth I felt a steel toe boot to the head so hard it lifted me of the ground. I didn’t respond until my body connected with the floor again. I grabbed my forehead which instantly gained a round 3 inch goose egg and I cried out, “yes, yes I peed in my bed! I’m sorry” as I cried into the carpet. Tears and snot ran down my face and I could feel myself peeing. I could feel! This meant I could move!
So that’s just what I did! I jumped up and pretended I was super flash fast and I ran as hard as I could to my room. I had a toy baby crib with all my stuffed animals in it. I jumped in and hid myself as well as I could. I burried my self deep. I could feel the cold wood from the bottom of the toy crib and it felt so soothing on my face. I heard him yell “Son of B…. Look at this damn mess!” I closed my eyes and said over over “just go to sleep, everything is ok, just go to sleep” and that’s just what I did.
Hours later my mother came home from work. Her and her monster argued and I could faintly here them in my deep sleep. I began to stretch, but then I bumped against the sides of the toy crib. That jolted me awake because I was affraid I had given away my location. I heard my mom’s soft voice, “Melissa baby, it’s mommy. You can come out baby.” For some reason I didn’t feel like I could. I tried to move but my body was shaking uncontrollably once again. One by one I felt her slowly pull away at the stuffed animal barrier I had so strategically hidden under. “Sweetheart, I’m right here. You’re not in trouble. I just want to make sure your ok….. there you are!”
I smiled when I saw her. Immediately filed with joy I jumped up and hugged her! Her face said it all. I still hadn’t seen my forhead, but I could certainly feel it. Her eyes filled with tears and she said “pack your bag baby, we’re leaving right now!” She stormed off with tears in her eyes and the screaming commenced. “What have I done!! This is all my fault” I thought to myself.
I ran after my mother begging her not to go. I tugged at her shirt as her and the monster argued. I tried telling her it was my fault but she wouldn’t listen! She walked towards the house phone in her room. (You know the old school ones that still has cords?) As she walked towards the phone I struggled to climb on the bed. My little feet dangled as I used all my upper strength to get on the bed.
By the time I got to the top of the bed, things were taking an unimaginable turn. Before my mom could dial a number Scooter had wrapped the cord of the phone around her neck. All love went out the window and pure rage took over my small four year old body. In one day, I learned what it meant to fly and what it meant to fight when our minds go into fight or flight mode.
I yelled “get off of her!”. But he didn’t comply, I then demanded, “let her go!” I heard my mother gasp for air and I jumped on his back and bit down as hard as I could. He yelled out in pain. I didn’t care, I had him and I was NOT letting him go. It was long enough for my mom to get the cord off her throat. He screamed and fell onto the bed. My mom wrapped her arms around me and softly said “let go baby.”
I followed her instructions like a mindless soldier. The click clacking monster yelled some more obscenities as he left the room holding his neck. My mom did the mom check. Felt around my body, and checked me for blood or broken bones. Her face was puffy with tears and I could see red marks where he tried to choke her. This was the 2nd time I would nearly choke on my fast beating heart.
She lifted me up and set me on the floor. Then she lead me to the living room. My mother opened the front door and told me to go to the neighbors and tell them to call 911. I pretended I was supper flash fast again, and I ran fast fast fast! I beat on the old aluminum door when I saw my mom wasn’t far behind me. I noticed he was not following and suddenly I could breath.
The neighbor let us inside and my mom called 911. When the ambulance and the cops arrived reality kicked in. This was all knew. This man was like my father, and as I watched them take him away in cuffs I thought, “what have I done!” I looked up at my mom in complete panic but I couldn’t think of what to say. The nurse treating my head asked me what was wrong and that’s when it happened. My first adrenaline dump. I burst into tears and grabbed my mom. I begged her not to let them take him. The man who had just put a knot on my forehead the size of a baseball. The man who taught my small three year old self how to french kiss. The man who had just tried to kill my mom! I was actually begging for his freedom.
Maybe it was the fear of my mother’s unstable unknown. Maybe I was conditioned to the abuse. Maybe I just didn’t understand any better. Whatever it was, I went from the strength of a super hero to a defenseless four year old in an instant. My mother just cried, she felt like a defenseless four-year old as well. She wrapped her arms around me and we just cried together. About an hour later, my grandmother showed up like a night in a shining 80’s Lincoln. She always did like the finer things. This was my first memory of taking what I could fit in a bag and leaving the rest behind. Never knowing what would become of my things or the memories they represented.
As we drove away I stared out the window. Like a muffled noise I could hear my grandmother scolding my mom, but I had tunned it out. I stared blankly at the trees passing by. They were so bright green. The wind would make them sway back and forth. I found solice in the peace of the wind whispering to the leaves of the trees. Every now and then, the line of beautiful green trees were interrupted by a street light. We stopped two or three times when we must have hit a green light, because there was no stop.
As I blankly stared, an object caught my attention. It was large and fast! I sat up to focus on it, but it was moving so fast that before I could even tell what it was, it crashed into us with the force of a heard of bulls. I had just fought my mothers Click clack monster. And now, I was facing the wrath of a drunk driver. Never ask if things can get any worse….
To be continued…