Friday, January 2
I heard Mama scream, and I jumped out of bed almost without waking up. As I tiptoed down the stairs, I could feel my heart beating so hard that it was almost like it was going to explode!
By the time I got to the bottom step, Mama was barely whimpering, and I could hear Daddy still pounding on her. Scared to death, I slowly cracked open Mama's bedroom door and peeked in. Mama was curled in a tight little ball, lying quietly on the floor. She looked like she was sleeping. A big wave of pain almost washed me away into nothingness. I wanted to dash in and help Mama, but I didn't dare because I knew only too well . . . what Daddy might do then.
Daddy gave Mama another hard smack and staggered in my direction. I scrambled down the last step, hid in a dark corner trying not to breathe, and stayed there until I heard him zooming down the driveway, smashing into our big metal security gate on the way out.
Almost blinded by tears and fear, I crept beside Mama and patted her cheek, below her swollen eye. "It's okay, Mama," I whispered, "he's gone."
Mama whispered for me to go back to bed. I wanted to ask her about lots of things but I almost knew she wouldn't tell me.
Back in my room, I put my pillow over my head and tried to smother out her crying. It wasn't like any human sounds I'd ever heard before, more like animal sounds or scary movie evil wailings.
Feeling freezing cold to the marrow of my bones, I wondered what Daddy would do when he came back. Eventually he always came back.
Sometimes he was crying and repentant, bringing gifts and flowers and candy. But other times . . .
I feel like I'm lost! Lost in my own home! Lost in my own body! But mostly lost in my own mind. Will the real, true me ever be found?
When the blackness of night began turning into morning grayness, I heard Daddy's car coast slowly up the driveway.
Not knowing if he would be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, I held my breath until . . . I guess I passed out or something. . . .
I felt like I had lain in my black, cold, never-never-land bed for forever. I was awakened by Daddy's "nice" voice, calling me "lazy bones" and telling me that I'd miss my school bus if I didn't scurry along.
I couldn't believe I'd fallen asleep, and more than that, I couldn't believe what had happened. Had it really happened? Maybe it hadn't!
Daddy gave me a pat on the head, told me Mama was still asleep, and said I should get Cook to fix me some breakfast.
All the way to school, I sat on the back seat of the van and wondered: Had it really happened? I was almost sure it had! Why wouldn't Mama talk to me about Daddy and his changing personalities? Or was it me?
It was probably me.
When I got home from school, Mama was like a zombie. All the curtains were closed in her huge bedroom, and only one tiny lamp was turned on. It was almost totally dark even though the sun was shining outside. I felt shivers go up and down my back and wondered if we'd all gone insane!
I've become more hopelessly scared and confused than I've ever been in my life! And the physical pain through my whole body is almost unbearable.
Had I been dreaming? I begged Mama to tell me, but her eyes were glassy. I could hear my teeth chattering. Maybe Mama wasn't Mama anymore. Maybe I wasn't me!
I was so full of questions that I was about to explode, but I knew that whatever had taken over my Mama's body wouldn't give me any answers. She . . . it . . . never did.
For hours I must have sat stoically by Mama's bed. My mind racing from blank to horrible, unthinkable possibilities. Cook came and knocked at Mama's door, pleading for Mama to eat at least a little something. Mama told her to go away.
Late today, Daddy came home with a new fur coat for Mama, a leather jacket for me, and a huge box of See's candy. He acted as if last night had never happened.
I went to my room.
Eventually Mama dressed, and we sat down to dinner with candles burning and soft music playing in our huge dining room. It seats twenty-two people, and with just us sitting there it always feels empty. Daddy told us how much he loved us and what a happy family we were and how he would soon be starting the biggest and most sensational project in Hollywood. It sounded dazzling, but for some reason spooky.
In the middle of dinner Daddy's cell phone rang, and Mama and I both jumped up to turn off the music. He waved for us to go to the library.
In the library, even with a fire in the fireplace, Mom and I sat silent and frozen while our dinners got cold and our hearts got colder.
Eventually we heard Daddy walking down the hall toward us. He was laughing and joking on his cell phone about some business things, saying Mama couldn't accompany him to wherever tonight because "she wasn't feeling well." Then he walked past us and out the front door without even a good-bye.
I helped Mama to her room. She always tried to pretend she was a queen when she was around Daddy. I wanted to scream and jump up and down but I didn't dare . . . Mama might . . . who knew?