I hope he comes home in a good mood tonight. If he does, maybe he won’t notice that I mixed the spaghetti sauce with the pasta. He always gets so mad at me when I do that. I always forget. I am so stupid.
I am protective mother hen. The kids walk over to me, knowing that it is almost time. They instantly go into shut down mode. This has been happening much more lately. Especially the boy, who takes the brunt of it most of the time. Until I step in, which in that case then its me. But I rather it be me than one of them. They are innocent.
I smile at them, trying to lift their spirits. But even my daughter, who is only five, knows that there are two kinds of daddy. The nice one and the mean one.
I hear the car in the driveway. We all scatter, the kids to their room, myself to the kitchen. I silently taste a sense of rage, but quickly swallow it back. That would just make things worse. He doesn’t like if I talk back.
He walks in the door, kicking the cat as he barges in. I know instantly that its going to be a bad night. He starts complaining about his coworkers, saying that one of them stole a customer right from under him. He hasn’t sold a car in weeks. Those bastards, he hates all of them.
I am just glad he actually found a job and has kept it. I am not allowed to work for long, because he always changes his mind. I am a horrible mother, how dare I get a job without asking him? He forgets that he was the one told me to find a job to begin with.
The kids come out to gauge the atmosphere, and quietly sit on the couch. I wish they could just run up to him and hug him, but if they tried he would just fling them away. Sometimes my daughter, his favorite, will try to crawl in his lap to soften him up. Not tonight though.
His son wearily starts talking about the A he got in social studies. He tries so hard my heart aches for him. His father doesn’t acknowledge him at all. He asks me whats for dinner and when I say spaghetti, he gets up and goes to sit down in his domain, the end of our couch. He doesn’t eat dinner with us at the table. He strips his clothes off, right in front of us, until he is just standing there in his underwear. He sits down. I am to serve him now.
A lump of utter disgust lodges in my throat. I hate him. He is vile to me, this man. I call the kids over to the kitchen table, then start plating. I make his, a pit deep in my stomach, because I know I screwed up again. Sprinkle cheese on top, try to hide it. One time I had the thought to put ground up glass in his food, which has crossed my mind every time I prepare his food now. I know that I would never do it, but just that I had the inclination was terrifying enough.
He looks at his food and then up at me. I told you, serve the damned sauce on the side you stupid bitch!!! He throws the plate at me. I dodge out of the way, and the plate hits the living room wall. The kids scream, they are hungry and scared now. I don’t react anymore, at least not so he can see. I haven’t cried in a while, because now all I can feel is hate. I just stand there and glare at him. I say nothing. I hold it in, although it feels like a poison inside of me.
What the hell am I looking at? Make him something that he can actually eat. He turns on the TV. He is done with me now, so I go to feed the kids. They are white as sheets. I make him a fucking sandwich, wanting so badly to spike it with my spit. I don’t even hand it to him, just set it down on his table.
I tell the kids to go play now, and they run off. We won’t hear much from them. They have learned to just stay the hell away from him whenever possible. I set to cleaning up the mess from the plate. I am on the verge of screaming. I have to get out of here. I have to save the kids.
Thankfully tonight he is on ignore mode. If I don’t talk, neither does he. I am still shaken from having the plate thrown at me, but I will be damned if he will know. I get the kids ready for bed silently, and they do not even come out to say goodnight to their own father.
I have the car the next day, to go to the grocery store. I have water boiling on the stove for dinner. The kids are watching TV. The phone rings. It is him. I had better be on time to pick him up tonight. I do not recall what he said to me next. Maybe he called me a bitch just one too many times.
I hang up. I dial my mother. She is all I have.
I have to get out right now, I tell her. It must have been something in my voice, because she says OK. I say pick me up at his work at five. She just agrees. I hang up. I am on auto pilot. I turn off the water on the stove. Everything is out on the counters, but I don’t bother to put anything away. I run into my room and grab a few pieces of clothes. I have no emotion but escape. I leave all my personal items, never realizing that most of them will be thrown away by a man who hates my fucking guts.
I run to my daughters room. And I stop and stare him in the face.
He is nine. He stares up at me from the floor. Whats wrong? I am all this child has in the world. It has taken us two years to honestly not resent each others intrusion. He had lived with his grandmother, but once I came along she eventually gave him to me. I am not linked by blood to him. I have no right to take him with me. This is why I always ended up coming back each time I tried to leave before.
I say nothing, just gather a few of my daughters things. I stuff everything into plastic bags. The kids follow me. My daughter is holding her Woody doll from Toy story, she is ready to leave. But my son..(he is not your son) just stands there. I think he knows I am leaving again. I just tell him to grab his Gameboy and get in the car.
I drive so fast. I want these next few minutes to go by in a blur, so that I don’t remember any of it in detail. Both kids are sitting tensely in the backseat. I can’t help but look into the mirror. I am not worried about my daughter. I will keep her safe from now on. It is my son (No!) that I am worried about. His eyes catch mine.
(Why are you leaving me with him?)
I am the first to avert my eyes. I am ashamed.
I see my mothers car. She is behind the wheel, steely faced as usual when she is mad. At me or him, I am not sure. I pull in front of her. Her face softens when she looks at me, and I feel better. I grab the plastic bags from the passenger seat and throw the keys onto the drivers. This is his car, not mine. Both kids get out. My daughter runs to my side, because this is where she belongs. My son (Stop!!) just stands there. He is crying. I want to run to him. But I stand there like a steel rod. No emotion.
I am despicable.
He comes running from the building. I turn my hateful gaze onto him. His big fat belly hangs over his white dress shirt. He is cussing. His coworkers watch as he starts to call me names. My mother stuffs my daughter into the car.
He is still screaming.
“You’ll be back! No ones gonna want you! Your a fat, stupid bitch!”
He calls my mother names as well. My mother retaliates, as is her nature.
Finally, I look at the boy. He sits in the back seat of his fathers car, head down. I can’t tell if he is crying anymore, but it hardly matters. I can’t bear to see his face. My mother starts to drive away. I can hear that bastard, a steady flow of expletives pouring from his wretched mouth. My daughter is quiet, in shock.
And I am staring straight ahead, so I don’t tell my mom I changed my mind.
About the Author
I am a 38 year old wife and mother to a teenager girl. I have depression, anxiety, and Fibromyagia. Writing for me is a sort of self therapy, and something I have loved to do since I was young.