When the demons finally came
November 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
Mom said it was dad who brought the demons into the house-because he’d lost his faith. Dad was supposed to be the leader but failed and bailed so Mom had to do it and, mom had faith but mom was sick in the head. Mom was crazy. She knew she couldn’t do it, but she tried. She taught us about God and the Devil, good and evil, maintaining through the end that she’d always taught us, truth. Even if it was her truth-God loved us despite and because, of our failures, our imperfections. And, because of our faith, our love for virtue, our life long search for the good, we were protected. God, had us under his wing, like ducklings.
I was seventeen and over thinking that summers trip to Venice. Overthinking the person I won’t even name, whom I’d let do unspeakable things to me because I thought he burned for me like I burned for him. Most chics my age were dangerously ahead in that regard, but it wasn’t a race. I didn’t care about losing my virginity. I cared about going to Venice, and getting the fuck away from home. I cared about my parents splitting up. I cared about my mother. I cared about my faith. Dad wasn’t the only one questioning things. All of us were questioning things, losing the race to keep the soul from plunging into the no returns.
But it was lunacy, the things my father had done. To my mother, to our family.
They were arguing that night. Those days it wasn’t uncommon. Some families bicker and nag but my family fought. We said things we couldn’t take back. We used our bodies as weapons. It was always intense but that night it was more. Pictures were falling from the walls and the glass was shattered in piles. Dishes were smashed. The hallway closet door slammed so hard it fell from the hinges. Mom was screaming, at him, at herself, groaning in her madness, slamming 162 pounds of muscle into walls, the Tv, the shower door; paranormal strength neither my dad nor Mom could control. He’d yell to the kids to go away, please just go to your room, and she’d just keep hitting him, and pushing him.
I shook something awful inside as I couldn’t do anything but stand feet away and listen to the monsters driving my mother and father.
“How could you do this us!? After everything? You knew this would kill me-”
“I’m sorry.” he’d yell, “I don’t know! I don’t know!”
“You wasted me!” bedside table crashed, “The next time you look at her, I want you to look at her good. I want you to think to yourself, ‘This is the bitch, that brought it all down. This is the one who was enough to throw everything away for!”
My sisters, running down the hall, resilient.
In the kitchen, dad’s cell kept ringing, begging, answer me. Thunder was crashing. Furniture, hopes-lament.
I went into the kitchen and grabbed my dad’s phone from the counter. I stared at it. I knew who it was so insistent. I had seen him sneaking away late at night, going down the alley, coming back up the alley hours later. I hit the accept and covered the speaker so she couldn’t hear the uproar.
I waited. She was waiting too.
It was two in the morning so this call must have been scheduled. I clenched my teeth, “We know who you are, you stupid fucking cunt.”
I heard her breath as it sucked; I couldn’t believe it myself. The cunt probably assumed I was my mother. Either way, she knew it was out and I wanted her to feel awful about it. I wanted her to hate herself. I wanted her to slice her own throat. She hung up. I quickly went through dad’s phone. Nothing-he’d covered his tracks. The trash heap was topped with spaghetti sauce from that nights dinner which my younger sister had cooked before sneaking out the back gate to meet her girlfriend. I chucked his phone in the mix. It was official. We hated him.
I put my sisters in my bed. Locked my bedroom door to muffle the madness, and to keep them from wandering back out to be further damaged by the battle raging on down the hall. Once they were settled we prayed together. Abandoned by God, I knew it was useless, but I did it anyway, for them. Next I read to them, loudly, dramatically, and decided I’d never have kids of my own. Then I needed out and they just needed distraction long enough to pass out so I tossed them my phone and begged them not to fight over it while pawing through my go bag for the joint I’d been saving. Then I stepped out the back door. Then I breathed.
It was eerie, that night. The backyard was glossy, slicking the bottoms of my feet. Lightning was striking behind the clouds as the breeze swept through perpetually. I was standing over by the kiddie pool, smoking and staring. The shock, reverberating through the haze. I saw my other sister, coming down the back alley like my dad does. The gate clanked. Her hair was covering her face and she was lackluster like she was when she’d fight with her girlfriend.
I called out, “It’s official, dad’s been fucking around.”
“So Mom was right.”
We’d all suspected it, but mom did the dirty detective work. Mom figured it out.
I remember having to relight the joint. I remember the wind wasn’t any stronger than it was three seconds before she’d arrived.
“How’d she find out?”
“She caught him on the phone with her. He had to admit to it.”
“The girl from work?”
“Beth.” I called, watching her try to maneuver across the yard without stepping in all the dirt puddles.
A second or so passed and in that second or two I knew this night would be the longest night of our lives. Then, so quickly I barely caught it, my sisters feet left the ground as she was jerked up into the air above me like an invisible fist of the gods had snatched her up. Tossing her about, ripping her body though the wind-impossibly. I lost my breath waiting to scream, waiting for her to scream but neither she or I made a sound. I watched in silence and terror and awe as she was spinning as though caught in the midst of a vortex, so many times she spun, until she was thrown back down to the ground. Thump.
Paralyzed, I sure she was dead. I managed her name.
Mightily shaken, inhaling like she’d been shot in the stomach, her fingers jammed in the wet trodden earth, she whimpered, “Oh…God.”
I rushed to her side, kneeling in the mud, “Can you move?”
“I don’t know.”
I helped her to her feet and we limped up next to the house and vibrated in fear, looking up at the sky, too afraid to smoke a cigarette to calm ourselves, too afraid to beg for answers, too afraid to run through the house calling for help.
Finally she muttered, with the agony of self loathing in her voice, “I deserved it.”
“We knew this would happen, eventually. Mom always said they‘d come if we-”
“You didn’t deserve that. This isn’t our fault.”
“For being with shell.”
I grabbed her and we squeezed each other, embracing until we could no longer breathe.
“Granny was right.” she pulled back to look at me, “She said I’d be punished.”
“Granny was wrong. God doesn’t give literal slap downs.”
“No,” she said, clenching her teeth, her eyes piercing me with a hatred I’d never seen in her, “He lets the devil do it.”
We heard the backdoor fall shut. Mom had stepped out, bewildered, overcome with that instinct to check on us. We watched her as she was looking through the blackout across the rain-shined rocky terrain where my sister was just taken hostage by the dark side, a mothers greatest fears washing down her face.
Somehow her pain had trumped the insanity and permeated through the night scene until it was too gut-wrenching to look at her.
I called out to her, “Mom.”
She whirled, so relieved, clutching her forehead; she called, “I’m so sorry,” opening her arms as we went to her, quaking as we could not get to her fast enough. She caught us, and she held us all together, warming us-as we, held her.
And she cried for us,
and we cried for her.