Reflections

They’ve just gone out. Heard the door slam. Probably gone down the pub. So at least I’ll be OK for a few hours. Mind you if they come back in a mood, I’ll know it. Sometimes they come home like young kids, laughing, singing, then more drinking, and other stuff. Other times they’re rowing from the minute the front door opens. Shouting and swearing at each other, and then I’ll hear Mum scream, and I’ll know he’s hit her.

I can’t do anything about it. Can’t even get out of my room, cos they’ve taken the handle off the door. Can only open it from the outside. At first I chose to stay in my room, but now it’s up to them. They’ve even put a board across the window, so I can’t look out, especially when they go off. It’s been like this for months, ever since she met him. Before then, at least I could sit downstairs and watch telly, especially when Mum was in bed or out.

Wasn’t a lot in the cupboard, but most times I could find something to eat. Now I have to wait and see. That’s another one of his rules. He makes them up as he goes along. I hate the day he ever came home with her. Funny looking man, big ears, always shaves his head to look tough. Got lots of those marks and tattoos on his neck and arms, and a little tear by his eyelid. Seems that when you’ve been in jail, you have that done. He speaks funny. Can’t understand him some times, and then he gets really angry.

First couple of weeks he left me alone. Spent most time going in and out of the house getting things in black bags. Then other people started knocking the door, and handing him stuff, or he’d give them things in return. Laptops, phones, car radios that sort of stuff. Sometimes he gave them some tablets or powder, or what looked like dried grass and got money. Kept it hidden behind the skirting board under the stairs. One day he said I’d been spying on him, and that’s when it kicked off proper. Said he didn’t trust me.

I could hear him arguing with Mum. Don’t know how much she stood up for me, but next thing I know, I’m told to go to my room, and stay there. First time it happened, I came back down again after a couple of hours. He went mental. Came rushing at me, pushed me up the stairs, shouting, threw me in the bedroom, then locked it. A few minutes later, he came back with a plastic bucket and a bottle of water. Said if I wanted a piss, I had to use the bucket. He threw the bottle on the bed and slammed the door.

I was scared. Spent all night trying not to use it, but in the end, I had to go. Hated it. My light doesn’t work so I had to do it in the dark. Put the bucket on my bed, to pee in, and then had an accident. It fell on the floor, tipped over, and all the pee went through the floorboards. Next thing I know he’s back. Slams open the door, grabs me by the neck. “Dirty little bastard” he said, then pulls me into the toilet, pushes my head down the pan and pulls the lever that flushes it.

I couldn’t breath, I was choking and the water ran up my nose, and into my mouth. I tried to scream but couldn’t. He kept on saying “Dirty Bastard” and then he pulled my head back up and pushed me back into my room. My head was all wet, and so was my shirt and school jersey; I wanted to cry; but I’m not dirty. I couldn’t help it, but I wasn’t going to let him see me blub. He’d only laugh. Always did when I cried. A little while later Mum came in with a can of coke and some crisps. Said I wasn’t to be naughty. Told her it was an accident, but she wouldn’t listen.

Next morning I was supposed to go to school but my clothes were still wet, so Mum said I had to stay at home so she could wash them. When I went back, a couple of the kids asked where I’d been, so I told them I hadn’t been well. Teacher didn’t ask. We keep getting these young girls from the training school; only there a couple of months, and then off again. Half of them don’t even know your name. Maybe they don’t care either.

Although I’ve tried hard, things have got worse. I always seem hungry. He used to watch me eat at the table, and if I left anything, he’d make me sit there until it was all finished, especially if he’d cooked it. One day after I’d pushed the meal around the plate cos it was cold, and I hate cold food, he got angry. Said I wasn’t really hungry, and that he wasn’t going to waste good food. I looked at Mum, but she kept her eyes down on her plate. She hadn’t eaten hers either, but I was the one he picked on. From then on, I got fed when he felt like it. A lot of the time, I got what was left over and told to take it to my room.

I wish my Dad was here. He’s a soldier. Used to come back from the Army on leave, but just like with this one, he and Mum would soon be fighting. Dad got angry, and said she’d wasted all his money, and that he didn’t trust her. She’d scream back at him, and then he’d storm out of the house and go to my Nans. One day he didn’t come back, and I heard Nan on the doorstep shouting at Mum, and telling her to sort herself out. Well she did, and that’s when he arrived. Nan came back later and found him there, and that was it. Another row, and I ain’t seen her since, nor my Dad. Yet one day, when I was in my room, locked in, someone knocked the front door. Mum answered it, and it was a woman from the council asking where I was. Mum said I was staying with my Nan, cos my Dad was home on leave. Wanted to shout out, but knew he was in the next bedroom, and then the woman went away.

Just before that he’d really hurt me, and my arm swelled up. Mum took me to the hospital when he was out, but the Doctor was very busy, and only looked at my arm. Mum said I was clumsy and had tripped over. She kept looking at me, so I nodded.

We moved just after that, and then we moved again. Don’t like this house. Still can’t look out of the window, but I can hear kids shouting and playing. I go to sleep a lot now. Sometimes I dream, and I’m out of all this. On a bike, having fun, racing with some mates but then as I come down the hill – he’s waiting.

I’ve made my mind up. When he was out yesterday, I took a really sharp knife out of the kitchen drawer. I’ve torn a hole in my mattress and hidden it there. Next time he starts it’s my turn.

I’m not scared.

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