Author: Margaret McHeyzer
Release Date: October 26, 2015
If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to see.
If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to feel.
If I were dead, he’d never raise his hand to me again.
If I were dead, his words wouldn’t cut as deep as they do.
If I were dead, I’d be beautiful and I wouldn’t be so…ugly.
I’m not dead…but I wish I was.
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It’s days like today I wish I was dead.
“Lily Anderson, you get your ugly ass out here right this minute. Don’t make me come after you,” Daddy screams.
He’s so angry. I knew the moment I heard him come home from work I was in for it. I was in my bedroom, lying on the floor trying to do my math. He slammed the front door so hard the windows in my room shook.
And then I knew, I knew I was in for it.
“Lily Anderson!” he yells again.
As soon as I heard him yell I ran to my hiding spot. I’m inside the closet in the hallway, wedged as far into the corner as I can get. Mom’s old coat hangs in front of me and I can still smell a faint waft of the perfume she used to wear.
“Lily Anderson!” he shouts. I can hear the anger in his voice and I can already feel the pain he’s going to inflict on me when he opens the closet door. I know what’s coming.
I close my eyes tight, scrunching them up so no light can seep through. I put my hands over my ears so I can’t hear him.
“I swear to God; if I have to find you, you will not sit for a month.”
My knees are folded into my chest. I’m trying to make myself small, invisible, so he forgets I’m here. I’m rocking myself, trying to block out what he’s saying.
School is safe. School is safe. School is safe. I keep repeating the mantra because in a few short hours I’ll be back at school. Maybe tomorrow I can go to the library after school, stay there until it closes and then sneak in after Dad’s passed out, because he’s had too much to drink.
It was never like this before. Ever.
I’m twelve years old and I can remember when Mom, Dad, and I were all happy. But that was years ago. It’s been a long time since there’s been any happiness in this house.
Well, before Mom died anyway, and not a day since.
Mom died when I was nine. I don’t remember much about her, except I remember her telling me how ugly I am. How life would be better if I was taken away from them. How I’ll never be anything, because I’m stupid and ugly.
Sometimes I dream happy things. Like me, Mom, Dad and a little blond-haired boy all going for a picnic. The sun beamed down on us as we played outside and laughed. We’d eat yummy sandwiches Mom made for us, and we’d drink homemade lemonade. We’d spend hours outside, laughing and talking and just having fun. Mom would tell me how pretty I am, and how much she loved me. She would play with my hair, braid it, and then we’d go and pick bright flowers to take home and put in a vase. Dad would smile and call us “his girls”, always kissing Mom and hugging me. Dad would put the little boy on his shoulders and run around the park, trying to catch the clouds.
I love those dreams, and I hold onto them; wishing they were real. But I’ve never had a mom like that, and my dad doesn’t talk much unless it’s with his fists, or to tell me how ugly and useless I am.
I feel him walking around the house. The floorboards creak and the vibrations from his footsteps come through the floor to where my bottom is. I close my eyes tighter and try and breathe as quietly as I can.
Please go away, Daddy. Please go away.
My heart is beating so fast. My hands are shaking and I’m trying really hard not to think about what’s going to happen the minute he opens the closet door.
Shhh, it’s so quiet. The only sound is my heart thrumming in my ears. Nothing else. Not a whisper, not a rattle…nothing.
Maybe Daddy’s left. Maybe he’s gone to the pub to have a few drinks. Maybe, just maybe, he’s left…forever.
I take a deep breath and just relax for a moment. My shoulders drop and I finally stop rocking.
Slowly I take my hands down from my ears, and I’m so happy because I can’t hear him yelling at me. I can’t hear him at all.
Gradually, I begin to unscrunch my eyes from the way I’ve tightly closed them. But something’s not right. There’s light coming into the closet.
I don’t even get a chance to open them fully before a rough hand reaches in, latches onto my ponytail and yanks.
“I told you it’d be worse for you if I had to find you,” Dad says, as he drags me out of the closet by my hair.
I’m desperately trying to hold onto my head so he doesn’t rip my hair out. My feet are trying to find traction on the dirty floorboards.
“Please, Daddy. Please. You’re hurting me,” I begin sobbing as I plead with him.
“Then your ugly ass should’ve come when I called you, you stupid bitch. You’re fucking worthless, you ugly idiot,” he says. But now his voice is calm as he continues to drag me toward the family room.
That’s when he’s most scary. When his voice is low and his eyes are filled with hate.
He throws me against the side of the sofa and takes a step back to look at me.
I look up and can see he’s the angriest I’ve ever seen him. “You dumb, ugly piece of shit,” he says, as he paces back and forth in front of me.
“Sorry, Daddy. Whatever I did, I’m so sorry.” I cower into myself, trying to make myself as small as possible.
“You’re just too fucking stupid, aren’t you?” he spits toward me as he brings his hand up to scratch at his chin.
“I’m sorry,” I say again. Tears are falling hot and fast down my cheeks. My head hurts from where he was pulling my hair, but I don’t dare try to rub the spot.
“You ugly fuck.” He kicks a boot into my leg.
The pain is instant and my leg feels like it’s shattered. “Please, Daddy,” I beg again, burying my face into my hands.
But ‘please’ never seems to work.
I’ve just got to take the beatings, because that’s what stupid, ugly girls do.
There’s something about the written word that is pure magic.
Possibly it’s the fact there are 26 letters in the English alphabet, and they can create something so beautiful or so empowering they’re capable to change our lives.