Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chapter 13

Hungry and Cold.

When I was allowed to come downstairs to eat or use the restroom things could somedays be almost normal. Almost.
Who am I kidding?

Barb and Bob had invented a new hobby.
It seems I became more interesting to watch in the evening than TV.

I was told to pick out what to wear for school the night before.
Then I was told to wash it out by hand. 
Dress, socks,  panties.
Wash it out in a dishpan in front of the two of them seated on the couch. Rinse it the best I could and told to go outside in the sub-freezing winter night air and hang it all up on the clothesline.
The winter wind would whip around my freezing ankles and numb-red fingers as I would wring each item out and using wooden clothespins,  hang the pieces on the line to dry. Freeze.
The clothes were stiff and turned to ice almost immediately.
My nightgown was there from the washing I had to do in the mornings before going to school. 

Bath time now.
Using the same cold water I had used to wash out my clothes, I am told to strip naked and bathe in front of them. Right in the middle of the living room as they watch 3 feet away.
Bob reaches out to turn the television off and makes himself comfortable. 

I am the freak show of the day.

Barbara has thrown a tattered rag at me and a bar of Lava soap.
My hands are  cold from being outside hanging up my clothes for school tomorrow on the outside clothesline. Dipping them into the cold water to wash my body in front of them leaves me chilled to the bone but not just physically.
Emotionally, I am crushed by them.
That's the name of the game.

"Wash your smelly armpits, you cow" Barbara yells at me.

"God, do you see her ugly ass and her knocked knees?
What a joke she is. No man would ever look twice at her!" Bob says.

"Don't forget to wash your smelly crotch you whore. Nasty."
Her legs are skinny and so close together! Eww, she is so disgusting!"

"Wash your ass.
Use the washcloth and bend over so we can see.
Spread your butt cheeks apart and wash it again."

I do as I am told. I am shivering from the cold of the winter and the cold of these two and their sick imagination.

Rage is boiling up inside me. The humiliation hurts like a physical pain. A punch to the mouth would hurt less when you are 13 and naked and being ridiculed so intimately.

Barbara jumps out of her chair to come over and use her fist to punch me as hard as she can in my flat chested breasts. 

"I read you can get breast cancer from hard hits to the tits. 
Hit her there! I will laugh my ass off if she has to get her tits cut off. 
Oh, I forgot. She doesn't have any tits!"

Laughing. She lands a fist again as hard as she can into my chest and I feel the wind knocked out of me as I reel to stay upright.

"Lift your arms up and wash again. Everywhere. Spread your legs apart. Rub the soap on you there until it gets foamy. Scrub yourself. 
Spread 'Em!
Wash your ass. Scrub your stinking crotch. 
God, I hate you! I hate whores.
Wash it all again.  Use that rag and clean yourself. You smell like a slut."

Over and over until my skin is raw from the lye soap. I don't even feel myself anymore. I feel like I am in the corner watching all of this and not feeling the pain. Not feeling the humiliation. Not hearing the words.
I no longer hear their perverted words.
I feel like an automon.
Wash. Clean. Scrub. Spread.

Their fun is over for the evening.
Thank God.

"Now, go outside and get your pajamas and put them on and get your slutty ass upstairs and go to bed. You're a whore. 
Whores don't need blankets either".

None of this is new to me. I know what comes next. 
I walk slowly to the back door and out into the dark cold winter night.
Their words echo in my head. Slut, whore, ugly, flat chested.
Naked and shivering I pull the wooden clothespins off my frozen stiff nightgown that is flat and hard like a large piece of wood and it crunches in my grasp. Ice thick and cold.
I walk toward the house carrying my stiff cold nightwear.
 Open the back door wishing a blast of warmth would magically thaw the cotton of my nightgown. It doesn't.
I work the fabric between my ice cold hands.
It finally has a bit of movement.
I reach my arms into the sleeves of the frozen gown and attempt to put it on.
Frozen and cold.
I pull the frigid garment over my head and slowly climb the stairs.
There is no blanket. No sheet. Just a bare bed and a cold room.
It will be a long cold night before the heat from my body dries the gown enough to sleep...
Tomorrow, I get to do the same only with frozen wet panties, socks and dress to wait at the end of the snowy driveway for the school bus...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chapter 12

Hell to Pay 

I feel the air leave my lungs as Barbara's huge body slams into me and knocks my face into the dirt along the side of the road. 
The safety of the cornfield urging me to come back into the lush rows of freedom. Run! Get Away!
WHY had I not stayed in the dark cocoon of safety in the tall green corn? 
How stupid!
More than feeling deflated by the weight of Barbara's body over me, I knew I would pay for my 2 plus hours of freedom. 

Hell to pay.

Barbara pokes her thumb into my mouth, her other four fingers dug into the flesh of my jaw. By the skin, she pulls me by my face into the car and shoves me to the floor of the back seat. I taste blood. Her fingernails having left deep claw marks in my cheek.
I don't remember her words on the miles long trip back to my prison, I was too worried about what my punishment would be....

We pull into the driveway and she extracts me from the car by my leg, dragging me.. my head bouncing along anything in her path as she pulls me along behind her like a rag doll. Who knew she could move so fast? Her large body sweating and grunting as she drags me,  my head banging with each step.
Back to my lofty prison upstairs. 
The door locks slam into place.
My face is bleeding. I am dizzy with hunger and thirst and disgust in my stupidity. 

 I hear voices below me and know that Bob has gotten home from work.  Barbara filling  him in on my crimes.  

Hell to Pay.

The locks on the door slide open. I hear them. I fear them.

I am called downstairs.

Bob and Barbara are there. The rest of the house is quiet.
My legs are shaking in fear.

"Where were you planning on going, Lana?" Bob asks me, his voice steely cold.

Do I lie? Do I tell them the truth?

"I was going to go to the courthouse," I say quietly knowing how stupid that sentence sounds and too naive to understand how much worse I just made it for myself.

"To the courthouse? For what"?

"To talk to someone," I whisper.

I realize in that moment my mistake.  
Too late.

"Talk to someone? You were going to run away and open your mouth to talk to someone about US"? Barbara screams. Her face distorted in rage.

Bob stands up.  He begins to undo his belt. 

"Take your clothes off. All of them. Strip!"

No! Not that! 
I had been told every day how much they hate me. How ugly I am. How stupid and dirty and disgusting I am. 
Told I was not Bob's daughter. Told that I took food from their mouths and the mouths of their babies, daily. Just by being alive.
Told a man named Marvin Dixon was my father and Bob's mortal enemy.  
Told. Every. Damn. Day.

Being told by Bob to take my clothes off made me chill to my soul.
No one had ever spoken to me about sex or anatomy.
No one needed to. 
Bob telling me to strip naked and the bulge forming in his pants sent a message even to my young ignorant mind.
I was not his daughter. My stomach churned on the bile and disgust.
Barbara leaves the chair she was sitting in to come push me to the ground and kick me hard in my face. The toe of her shoe landing square on the side of my face. Blood spurts all over the carpet in front of me.
"Get Up, you pig and do what he says."

Hell to pay...

Sobbing, I get up. I undress.
 He walks towards me with a look of sheer evil and something else I had never seen before...

I was 13 years old.

He may have beat me but I am not going easily. No way.

Bob's thick leather belt leaving welts with each strike. Welts so deep and bloody. My back. My face. My chest. Anywhere he could land it. I didn't make it easier on myself.

I put up such a fight that Bob's glasses went flying across the room. Kicking and fighting and flailing.  Naked. Arms and legs thrashing out at anything near me. 
His dentures flew out of his mouth.  His breath in short grunts and gasps. I kicked and clawed. I knew I had to keep this perverted man away from me. Beat me yes....Anything else. 

By the end, I was bloody and bruised on every part of me. I could not walk. 
I didn't once cry out. Didn't once beg for mercy. I dug deep inside me and fought with all there was inside my soul. Every fiber of me fought.  I would have fought until dead.

I got 10 times the beating but I had a new resolve. No longer would I just take it!
No More.  I would fight them. The resolve gave me power.
Bob and his twisted sick leering eyes and bulging pants and Barbara with her depraved punishments. 

That day, I became a fighter. A  wild thing. They could beat me bloody but from that day on,  would never touch my soul. 
The beatings didn't end but the pain inside me was over. They had no control. 
I belonged to ME!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chapter 11...The Road to Freedom!

People often ask me if my husband was the one that saved me from Bob and Barb. 


I am no Cinderella.
There is no Fairy Godmother.
There is no Handsome Prince on a White Horse coming to rush in and save the girl. Even in my young mind, I knew there never would be.
Teaching young girls that there will always be someone, a man,  there to rescue you is folly. 
You have to depend on yourself. 
Mother's, if you teach your children, especially your daughters, ONE thing... 
Teach them that.

Bob and Barbara may have been worried they would permanently harm us but it didn't stop them. Their hate for us and especially me was a driving force for them. I was their whipping boy for all of the pressures of life.

Locking me upstairs in my room with no food, no water and no plumbing. That was the new method of abuse since the incident in the pool. I think both of them feared that just looking at me might send them over the edge and if I am tucked out of their sight, I could be forgotten.

Locking me upstairs was no real punishment for me. 
Not having food or water was.
Bob's mother Maggie had trunks and trunks of wonderful books stored upstairs in the closet of that room that I read and read while locked away in my upstairs prison. 
Books by Hans Christian Andersen.  Hans Brinker.  Laura Ingall's Wilder.
Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind." Nancy Drew. Amelia Earhart.
I could lose myself in a book and pretend in my mind that I was there, gliding on the ice in beautiful ice skates or flying far far away in an airplane to be lost and never be found. 
Oh, how I envied Amelia Earhart!

Three days I was locked up there. No one came up. No food. No water. No bathroom.
How did I manage that?
Ha! You do what you have to do. Summer rains and I would crawl out on the roof of the two story house and get drops of water in tiny puddles off the shingles. Use the restroom? I am embarrassed to tell you that I would drop my drawers and hang my butt out the window and let it go!
Horrors at the thought that Barbara would see something drop out the window from the 1st floor!  Fear would grip me that she might look out of her window below me on a bright sunny day and see yellow rain raining down from above. 
Going without food was nothing any longer. 
I was beyond hungry.
 I was a mere wisp of a person by now. All bones with skin stretched across them.
I knew that I had to leave this place. I was afraid to leave my sister.  They were never as hard on her but I knew she would bear the brunt of their rage if I was gone but I had a plan and it was driving me.  

I was going to run away!

I had nothing. 
I had one dollar bill that I had found at school and kept  a secret.  I had an orange one piece swim suit that I would take with me. I would swim the rivers if I had to, but I was going to walk the thirty plus miles on back country roads into the city and go directly to the Courthouse. I couldn't contain my excitement at the thought of being away from here. 
Food and Freedom! No more beatings. No more peeing off the roof.
No more of these evil people. 
I was leaving!!!! 

One huge problem.
How do I get to the first floor without being seen by Barbara?
She would hear me on the stairs if I went down that way in the dark of night. During the day, she was planted in front of her TV watching Soaps. Too close to the door. Also, the creaks of the doors and opening of the locks. 
Barbara had the ears of a rat.

My only other route of escape... The window.
Two stories up but a sloping roof.
I crawled out the window. 
I sat on the slope of the roof and looked down. Oh, it seemed so far.
A long way down. My footing slipped and I almost fell as I made my way back to the safety of the window sill.


My only way was out the window and to jump from the roof.
It took me minutes but I drew up my courage and before I could change my mind, I moved to the open window once again. 
Better to break a leg or an arm than to stay here. 
 My bright orange swimsuit and my precious one dollar bill in hand, I stood at the very edge of the roof.
On the count of three... Jump.

Try again. 

Hang off the edge then fall?

This time I got as low as I could and squatted. 
Jump then roll when you hit the ground. 
Jump Now!

I went down. It seemed like it went in slow motion and surprisingly, it was easy.  
Whoosh. Plop. I landed. Nothing broken. 
Nothing hurt.
Now, avoid passing in front of the windows. One glance outside from Barbara or the kids and I am screwed and caught.
Hunch down low and run!

The house is surrounded by a farm fence of wire with sharp barbed wire along the top. Corn fields beyond. No big deal. Climb over it. A few scratches are nothing compared to the wrath of Barbara.

I am Free!

Hidden in the protective green lush of the rows of corn.

In Indiana, the saying goes that corn needs to be "Knee-High by the 4th of July."
This corn was beyond that. Tall and ripe.
I felt so tiny in the acres upon acres of corn. Tiny but FREE!

I felt like I had walked for hours. Little to no breeze and the walls and rows of corn felt like I was going to suffocate in their depths.  The leaves of the cornstalks cutting my face and arms as I continue on to freedom.
Keep walking. 
Keep moving? Or, do I stay hidden in the safety and cover of the walls of corn or find the road?
I keep walking. 
I have no idea which direction I am going any longer. I feel as if I have kept my path straight.
This field should be ending soon.
Where am I?
I need to get to the road to see where I am. Getting lost at night in the darkness held all new fears but nothing could cause me as much fear as being caught and going back.

The corn seems to be getting shorter along the edge here. This field is ending!
I will be able to see where I am soon. It is almost dusk.
I keep walking and step onto the hard road.
I don't recognize where I am. I turn to check the other direction and...


A Car!
A blue 1965 Corvair.
I stepped out of the safety of the thick dense corn field and walked directly into the path of BARBARA!!!!

I turn to run back into the safety of the field of corn but I fall hard  onto the ground as I feel a body slamming into mine......

Chapter 10

As I write this, I am searching my memory for one, just one, good memory. Were there any? I can't remember them if there were. 
I hate the bleakness of this story but things are about to change for the worse then the better. I can barely wait to write the ways things will change and improve. 

It's summer.
I love summer. Sun shining so bright and happy.

Barbara bought a snap together pool that is only a foot deep for her 3 kids to play in and cool off in the summer heat. 
I am now their babysitter. They are so loved and cared for by her but her "Soaps" come first on any given day. Summertime is no different.

The youngest one has gotten out of the pool and is riding her scooter bike on the bumpy gravel driveway. She falls. I am so busy watching the other two playing in the water that I couldn't get to her before she fell to the driveway and skinned her knee as the trike toppled to the ground. She screams out like she has been murdered. Tiny drops of blood are forming on her skinned up knee and her blood curdling screams could be heard for miles. 
Babara comes running outside as fast as her huge body will thrust her forward, bottle of Pepsi in hand. Her Soaps momentarily forgotten. Her rage at having missed one minute apparent on her greasy red face.

She runs to her screaming child, pushing me out of her way with a giant punch to side of my face.
The child's crying has stopped. Her skinned knee forgotten.

"What have you done?" She screams at me.

"Nothing, she fell off her trike. She's fine. I was worried the other two would drown in the pool so I stayed with them," I sputtered out the words quickly, sensing this wasn't going to end well. My entire body sensing real fear.

"How dare you let my baby get hurt! You were supposed to watch them ALL, you idiot! Drown? I'll show you drown!" she says as she grabs me by my hair and begins to drag me across the sharp gravel of the driveway to the edge of the pool and slams my body into the water. 
She quickly grasps the back of my neck and holds my head under water.  I can't breathe. I feel my lungs trying to get air but I must learn my lesson and Barbara is a strict teacher to say the least.
Finally, she pulls my head from under the shallow blue water and I gasp for air. My face out of the water for a brief instant. One of her kids has gotten in on the fun and slams a metal sand bucket into my face and above my eye splits open as they laugh with glee.

Back down. My face submerged once again.
Just as quickly as she lets me up for air, I am shoved back down, this time for even longer. I am fighting to get my face from under the knee-deep water but her grip is held firm. Her fingers like talons clutched into the back of my neck. 
I am clawing the air, her skin, anything to be able to breathe again! Fighting.
She pulls my face up only to be shoved down again and again.  I am barely able to gasp one lungful of precious air in before she slams me under water again. Then again.
I am tiring but Barbara is not. To have her Soaps interrupted is unacceptable. Punishable by Barbara to the fullest.

My fight is gone. This time she holds me down under the water that by now seems to be so deep but is only a foot in depth. 
I give up. My lungs no longer crave to breathe air. Just let the quiet of the underwater blue of the pool take me with it. The bubble pattern on the bottom of the pool is fascinating. So blue. The sunshine rippling thru the water so pretty. The blood from the cut forming a tiny red moving cloud against the blue of the pool liner. So peaceful here. So painless..... 

I wake up  hours later upstairs in the darkness of my room. The house is quiet and the door is locked. My sister whispers into the crack of the door. "Lana, Are you ok?  Barbara thought she killed you. It scared her. Scared everyone. Maybe now they will let up on you."

"I'm fine" I tell her, "but we have to get out of here. We can't be here any longer. I want to go, get out of here, but I won't leave you here alone with them."
"Oh Lana." She exclaims with a deep sigh as approaching footsteps near the stairwell scare her from the tiny crack of the door.

I have a plan....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chapter 9

Burning Love

This part and the upcoming parts get more difficult to write.

Today, I called my beautiful and brave sister, Karen. I didn't know Karen even existed or that I had a little sister until I was 40 years old. She was given up for adoption before she was a week old. 
The Welfare Department made my mom give her up for adoption.
Anyway, I called her to see if she would be a support system for me to go out to the old farmhouse where all of this took place and be my "wing-man." 
Of course, she says Yes!
I want to go see the old place but could never do it alone. I would ask my son, who would go but I'm afraid the thought of him and his 3 babies much the size and ages that we were, seeing me possibly fall apart, didn't sit well with me. I was happy Karen agreed. She will be there for me and I know I can draw strength from her.
I want to take pictures of the place. Maybe film it for YouTube. The house and if I could muster up the nerve, ask the owners if we can go inside. 
To see the layout would be such a good but scary visual.
I'll do what I can to make it happen. Going back there will be tough.
I am sure the skies will cloud over and the gates of hell will open if I see it again....

As I said, our mom had contacted the Welfare Department and asked to see us.  I have no idea if she got to see my brother or how Barbara and Bob explained his absence. All I know is that we were told mom wanted to see us. This nightmare was going to stop.
I could hear Bob and Barb discussing it. They hated my mother. Hated her even more than they hated us kids if that was possible. 
They wouldn't allow us to ever say her name... Zoraida.
We were made to call her "Her."
"Her" wanted to see us but she had an absolute fear of Bob and Barb and for good reason. 
She had lived with the man. She knew his evil heart and of his abuse. His need to control and to hurt. Later I learned that Barbara had said some pretty vile hurtful things to our mom once, before we went to live with them.
All I knew was somehow, someway, we were going to get to see our beautiful mother.

The day arrived. She pulled up in the driveway but didn't leave the car. The windows were rolled up tight.
There was a man behind the wheel. 
Inside the house I was completely polarized by seeing her. 
There she was! Just outside the door. Sitting in a car! I could see the smoke from her cigarette swirling inside the car. Behind the window.
My mom!
Beautiful hair and makeup. I have never felt so relieved and happy. This was all going to be over soon. I could crawl in that car, push my sister in and slam the doors. Escape!

Barbara comes up behind us. Her thick fat hands grab us by our hair. One in each hand.
She wraps her hands  deep into our hair and twists. Hard.
Barbara is a big strong woman. Her hate for Zoraida and for us seemed to make her stronger still.

"I'll go with you. You will do as I say, do you hear me?" As she twists the hair of the back of our heads as tight as she can and jerks upward until our faces are looking into hers. Our necks twisted and our hair keeping us locked to her as we feel her body pressed close behind us.

"You tell that Mexican bitch puta you don't want to see her. You tell her you like it here with Bob. You tell her to go away and never come back. You tell her you hate her and you never ever want to see her again. Tell her she's a bad mother. You tell her that she's not your mom. Tell her you don't call her mom anymore. You tell her that you call her "HER." 
Norma and I are crying. Sobbing. 
How can we do that?
This is our MOM. 
I am silently pleading... Mom, get out of the car and get this horrible woman away from us. Make the hurting STOP! 
Get out and help us.
Barbara jerks our heads and the handfuls of our hair tighter.

"Do it!" 
"You either do as I said or when that bitch/whore leaves, you will pay the price."
We begin to walk towards the parked car. My feet barely feel the ground as I am propelled forward. Barbara has me by my hair in her fists so tightly that I am held up by her clenched hand in my hair.
I can see my mom seated there but her face is facing to the front. 

"Look at us. Do something!"

I feel as if I am about to face a firing squad.
She doesn't see us until we are right at the car window. The window rolls down and Barbara's grip tightens to the point of being unbearable. I can feel my hair ripping out of my head, her grip is so tight, her hand twisted and wrapped around it for better control of our necks.
"Say it", she hisses at us. 
I feel like a puppet on a string. 
Together, Norma and I do as we were told.
We look into our mom's eyes and repeat what Barbara told us to say...

"We never want to see you again. We hate you. You are not our mother any more."

I remember standing there and my heart felt like it has just been shattered by the look on her face. We have crushed her. 
Zoraida hands each of us a tiny box carefully wrapped in silver paper with a neat little bow. 
"Open the boxes and always remember that I love you. Always." she says as a tear rolls down each rouged cheek.
"No matter what, I love you kids," she says in her heavy accent.
Barbara jerks our heads even tighter as she sees our reactions to our mother's words. Her hands behind our heads and unable to be seen from the front.

The car window rolls up and our chance at being with our mom is gone. All hope of her saving us vanished. 
The car pulls away.
Barbara's grip finally loosens on our heads and pushes us to the ground as she lets go. Her hands are filled with our hair as the wind blows it away in wisps. Gone.
Our mother is gone.

We each have the tiny box she gave us in our hands. Forgotten.
Barbara hasn't forgotten. She grabs them away from us.
"You don't need these!"
"You won't be seeing her again so I will see what "Her" gave you.
Probably shit. Just like Her. Shit. 
Boxes of shit."

We watch as she opens each box. My sister has a beautiful necklace on a chain with a matching bracelet. A pretty blue stone on a delicate silver chain. Mine the same only in pink. The most beautiful necklace and bracelet I had ever seen. The translucent pink of the stones so soft and pretty like my mom.  Tears run down my face. 
How hurt my mom was at our words.....

I will never forget her look of sadness as long as I live.
In my heart, she was never "Her." 
She was never a bad mom. 
I didn't hate her. She was my mom.
Barbara sees our hurt, but for her, she's not finished. She has the pretty blue stone necklace and bracelet and pretty pink stone set in her hand. The silver of the dainty chains glittering bright between her fingers.

"What a stupid woman. You don't need these," she grunts as she walks outside to the trash barrel and throws them into the fire.
For the one minute that I held those beautiful, carefully wrapped gifts from my mom in my hand, I knew. 
I knew that no matter what my mom had been through. No matter what words or hurt Barbara could inflict, I knew my Mom loved us.  Barbara could never take that from me. She could never burn the love from my heart. Never.