I woke up startled as their muffled voices carried through the walls and slithered below my door, the space between the carpet and the wood just wide enough.
My Mom was crying.
My father’s tone was angry. I heard the buckle of his belt clang, he was getting dressed.
It was still dark in my room and I felt as if I had not slept for very long.
As I heard her outside my door the whiny knob turned. The light from the hallway offended my sleepy eyes and the sight of her night-gowned silhouette made my heart beat faster.
Through tears she told me to get up and put on some shoes.
I think I asked what was wrong.
Something bad had happened - something really bad. They had to go to him, try to help him. Make sure he was okay.
This wasn’t the first time.
It wouldn’t be the last.
She hurriedly walked me to our neighbor’s house next door and then suddenly she and my dad were gone. I pulled back the thick curtains from someone else’s window as I watched them drive away.
I was 9 years old and petrified.
I didn’t know what had happened. I had heard the words “car” and “rolled” and “been drinking” and “hospital” and his name.
I wanted to go back to my house, back to my bed, to my place of comfort, with my parents just on the other side of my wall, sleeping.
This hard, unfamiliar sofa was no place for me. This house smelled so different and I was cold.
I laid there wide awake worrying about things I didn’t know.
My stomach and heart ached simultaneously and I could feel it coming on in my forehead too.
I didn’t know when they would be back or how long it would take or what would happen next.
There was nothing I could do but be the good girl I always was, trying to make up for other mistakes.
It seemed like years before she came back to get me. I could still see her face in the dark, worn with worry and she looked older somehow.
The days and weeks to follow were full of arguments and tears and conversations about things of which I knew nothing.
I will not ever forget that night.
It is seared into my heart and my conscience, never to leave me.
And to be honest, I am not sure I have forgiven.
I hope to.
This was written for the following prompt from Write On Edge:
We all have them.
Memories that we wish we could forget…things that we wish we could banish from our minds.
Imagine that writing down your worst memory will free you of it.
What is it?
Why does it haunt you?
Write it down and let it go. (if only it were that easy for me...)