IT WILL ALWAYS BE THE DAY AFTER FOR ME
The next day my grandmother came in half awake to get me ready for school. I could tell she was still tired from the night/morning before. She told me to lift up my arms so she could pull off my pajama top. She very quickly pulled my pajama shirt off and turned around to put on my shirt for school and just froze staring at my neck and my chest with her mouth and eyes wide open. I did not know what she was staring at so I looked over at the mirror across the room. The strangle marks and bruises had begun to appear on my upper body. It looked like someone had taken a baseball bat and beat the living shit out of me. She called for my grandfather to come into the room and he came around the corner with a smile on his face.
Grandfather: “HEY… sh..sh….shorty.”
He stood there looking at my body then turned and looked at my grandmother. I started crying because I thought I was in trouble for not telling anyone. I could tell they didn’t know what to do — after all — they had just picked me up from the police. They did not know what the police knew and what they police did not know. I would not tell them what happened to me because I feared I would be in trouble when my mom got out of the hospital. The solution was to put me in a turtleneck to hide the strangle marks on my neck from the people at school. It sounded like a pretty good idea at the time except it was the middle of summer. I stuck out like a sore thumb on the school playground. I think one of the kids must have seen some of the strangle marks from the top of my turtleneck and told the yard duty. The school had what was called a “freeze” policy — when the yard duty blew the whistle the entire school froze. She blew the whistle and called my name across the playground. The whole school watched me walk across the playground over to the yard duty. The yard duty pulled down the top of my turtleneck — gasped and started crying. The other kids on the playground watched the whole thing. I was humiliated. I started crying and freaking out and begging the yard duty not to tell on me. There was nothing I could say because she was obligated to report it. She took me to the front office and showed my bruises to the principle and receptionist. The school called the police who took me downtown to guess where? “Jail.” Not really but it might as well have been because I was taken against my will and treated like a prisoner.
I was forced to speak to a social worker downtown. I just continued saying I was sleeping and I did not remember what happened because I was afraid they would take me away from my mom. The police eventually placed me in 10 x 10 foot cold room — empty except for a big black camera. They made me take all my clothes off and stand completely naked in front of the camera for at least fifteen minutes while they snapped pictures of the strangle marks and bruises on my nine year old naked body. I was so humiliated standing naked in front of strangers. I was not even allowed to use my hands or arms to cover my body. I remember there were several times I looked up into heaven towards God and back towards the camera with my mouth still wide open and tears streaming down my face. I even at one point asked God why I was allowed to live that one morning the former step-father tried to murder me. That’s because it was the first realization that my body was not my own property. I realized for the fist time I was alive but I was dead because I was trapped in my own body. So I just stood there naked looking into the camera with my mouth wide open and tears streaming down my face the entire time feeling like the world had failed me. I was cold. I was scared. I was alone. I was trapped in my own body. I had lost absolute control of my environment.
The police eventually turned me back over into the custody of my grandparents by the end of the day.
One day my grandmother took me to the hospital to see my mom. I was so excited to see her because I thought she had died that one morning. She was on some kind stretcher in the hallway of the hospital. I think they were going to do some kind surgery or something. I was really happy that day because she told me how much she loved me and that she was going to pick me up from school one day a month later. She told me it was going to be just me and her from now on. I was completely different person at school after this conversation with my mom and remembering the policeman saying I would never have to see the former step-father again. I was normally a quiet kid because I was always afraid of being beaten by the former step-father. I was afraid the other kids were going to get me in trouble. That entire month I was just a normal kid. I was counting down the days until my mom was going to pick me up from school. I envisioned her just hugging and loving me all the time and it being just me and her from now on. It was the only time I felt like what we went through was worth it.
The day came that my mother was to pick me up from school. I had a hard time concentrating in school all day because I was super excited. The teacher and the yard duty were really excited about it too because I told them my mom was going to pick me up. I just continued to look up at the clock in the classroom all day long until school was finally over. I grabbed all my homework and my lunch pail and ran past all the other kids to get out of the classroom. I ran as fast as I could across the schoolyard to where the buses and parents would pick up the kids. At one point I could see my mom’s car and I just kept running faster and faster until I could hardly run any faster. I did not even stop running after my lunch pail had opened up and everything came out all over the ground. Then I started running faster once my mother stepped out of the car waiting for me with a smile on her face. She looked beautiful. She was the most beautiful women in my world. Then at one point the running became slower and slower until I was at a complete stop because I could not believe what I was seeing. A few tears rolled down my face as I stood there looking at her. I did not want to get in trouble for making her wait so I continued to walk towards her with my head down. I eventually stopped right in front her where she stood on the passenger side of the car smiling at me.
My mother: “Mommy missed you so much! Come give me a hug!”
She reached down and hugged me as I stood there with no emotion with my arms at my side. I heard my father’s last words echo in my mind as she hugged me………. “Johnny I never want you to forget how much your mommy loves you!” One more solitary tear rolled down my nine year old face when I heard the driver side car door open and then shut. The former step-father who had tried to murder me and my mother a month earlier stepped out of the car and stood there smiling at me.
My Mother: “Now don’t forget to go give your dad a hug.”
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