"But it was only a sticker!" Please! Please!" She begged and cried to her mother.
At some point, she knew her little pleadings were falling on deaf ears. Her mother's mind was set. She watched as her mother concentrated hard on the road and her grip on the wheel tightened. There was no escaping her fate and that terrified her for some reason. The threat hung in the air between them,
"Just wait until your father gets home."
Her father had never really spanked her before but there was something in her mother's voice, something dark and scary.
Lately, she had noticed her father was getting home later and acting weird. He seemed to be really tired, his words didn't always come out right. He wanted to be alone a lot too. Gone were the days when he would sit out in the grass with her, play tea party, look at clouds and talk about silly things.
The car groaned to a stop inches away from the garage door and the squeaking of the gears started to whine as the garage door opened.
She stiffened in the backseat, terrified to leave the car because it was coming. "Just wait till your dad gets home" rung in her ears.
As the car pulled into the dark garage, the red lights of the brakes beamed brightly through the exhaust fumes. She squeezed her little eyes shut and balled up her fists forcing them against her ears. Still, she heard her mother's door slam shut and her heels echo on the pavement as she circled the car to her door.
"Nooooo! Please!" she screamed through her tears.
"Go to your room, right now!" her mother hurled at her.
She found her self running down the hallway to her room, angry and scared. Her long dark curls streaming behind her as she ran for protection from those words to her room. She slammed her door shut and slid down on to the floor, hugging her knees and propping herself up against the door. Her thoughts raced trying to predict what was to come.
Then, she heard the loud slam of the front door and she knew. Soon, after she heard her mother's quick words, half English, half Spanish she attacked him over and over with words. She could hear her mother circling him, striking at him. Accusing him, insulting him, demanding him. Almost like a dust storm lifting from the ground, trying to gain momentum in hopes of becoming a tornado, the whole atmosphere whirled into one of anger, chaos, resentment, fear.
She jumped to her feet as she heard the heavy steps of her father coming down the hall. Quickly, she searched the room for refuge. Her eyes darted everywhere and tears were beginning to well up in her eyes almost overcoming her sight.
Suddenly, the door burst open almost off the hinges it banged against the wall, making a loud slam and she screamed and pled again.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please! No!"
"Did you steal from a store, when you went shopping with your mother?!"
His words boomed in the small room and she again scanned the room.
Her eyes went wild and widened as she saw him slowly unbuckle his belt. He seemed to unsheath his belt from his waist in slow motion. She found herself back slowly into the corner and lowering herself. Her hair pulled and twisted around her tear stained face as she shook her head side to side, silently mouthing the word, "No!"
"Dad, NO! PLEASE!"
He stepped quickly to her.
"How dare you!" His open hand in a blur struck her hard and hot across the face and she flew into the nearby wall. She began to cover her face the best she could. She would alter this later trying to also cover her thighs.
Finally, the brown belt was lifted high above his head and the buckle shined for a moment reflecting the hall light before it came down like fire biting at her skin each time.
He accused her of being a thief, of disgracing her family, being deceitful, being disobedient, things she couldn't believe would come from her daddy. And with each dark insult, the belt in concert would slam down on her little body.
In shame, she tried to cover her red skin, to protect herself while screaming in pain at every blow.
Finally, exhausted and breathing heavily he stopped and staggered backwards, shaking his head in confusion. He stared dumbfoundedly at his little girl and then at the belt. Then he dropped his head low.
Quickly his head popped up and his eyes narrowed as he locked eyes with her. The stare was strange. It was filled with a new knowledge and an angry sense of being challenged. She met his gaze with fear and her eyes searched his for mercy. She nearly jumped when his one dark eyebrow raised.
"Don't you EVER, EVER defy me!" He shook the belt towards her and she squirmed back into the corner.
"...or your mother. I don't know who you think you are little girl but you will not behave like this. I will not tolerate it, do you hear me? I work hard all day long to come home to THIS? I expect more from you, I demand more from you. You will not become this sneaky little thief. You will never disgrace us like this! Can you imagine what you put your mother through! Don't you think of anyone else but your greedy little self? You brought on all of this."
He began to pace the room.
"and I will be damned if I will allow it in THIS house." She began to cry again.
"Keep crying," he shook the belt again towards her. "I'll give you something to cry about!"
He made his way to the door, grabbing the knob and turning on his heel to address her again.
"Remember, this is ALL your fault. And don't even THINK about leaving this room."
Finally, he closed the door, quietly as if he was criminal leaving the scene. Not long after, she could hear the bickering of her parents rise up again this time in their bedroom followed by the slamming of their door.
Left to her tears, her torn tights, her throbbing welts on her legs, she shook a little as she tried to get to her feet. She braced one hand on the wall and pulled herself up to standing. She tried to pull back her hair from her face and winced at the pain from her hand, remembering she had used to protect herself. For some reason she felt older and like something somewhere in her had just quietly died.
If she could, her little eyes would tear up at the sight of her future. Her father again would meet her in that room, in the hallway, in the kitchen, all over the house with angry misplaced, drunken beatings. She would curl into a fetal position and hopelessly lift her arms in defense. There would be no reason in all of this and she would learn to merely take it. The verbal abuse was slung equally from both her parents and she accepted she simply would never be or do good enough. She stepped into this new identity, like an unwilling princess into a gown of thorns and vines holding tightly to her every movement. It would shape not just an entirely different woman but bring into her life more of the same.
There was no telling where this train was going or when the ride would end.