The following is an excerpt from my soon to be published novel – Still in the Fight:
Most people who have met Dylan and me would assume that we must have been cut from the same small-town cloth, but nothing could have been further from the truth.
Dylan’s parents were two of the sweetest people who have ever lived. Love and peace permeated every corner of their home. Meal times for Dylan and his sister, Darla, were filled with lively conversations about what happened during their day. All who sat around the table, even guests, were encouraged to contribute. Family problems were handled in love, rather than anger. Both parents attended Dylan’s and Darla’s school events, cheering them on from their seats. Because of the loving atmosphere provided by his parents, Dylan grew up to be a confident, loving adult.
By comparison, fear filled our home because of my dad. Although he was a successful real estate broker, he hated his career, his life and himself. He took out his anguish on my mother, brother, sister and me. We never knew what would trip his trigger, but when it happened he would turn into a raging madman, slinging four-letter words and accusations at everyone. It usually climaxed with him slapping us around.
Mealtimes? Oh my! Those were tortuous occasions for the family because Dad demanded absolute quiet from us while he ate his meal. If for any reason, we children made a chewing noise or squirmed a bit in our chairs, he might smack us and send us to bed, berating us as we left the room. If he did speak and asked a question and then didn’t like our answers, he might slap us across the face right there at the table. Mom always sat in her chair with her head down like a timid titmouse, too afraid to confront Dad or defend her children. Her only solace was a bottle of Jack Daniels hidden behind the cereal boxes in the pantry.
Not only that, my dad attempted to molest me soon after my thirteenth birthday. I fought him off and ran into the bathroom, locking the door behind me. He never attempted to touch me again, but being alone in the house with him caused panic attacks to strike me so that I trembled and struggled to breathe. All I could think about during those times was the day his hands fondled my breasts.
What few friends or boyfriends I had were never invited into my home nor did I ever share the shame and pain I felt in my heart with anyone. Never once! Looking back, I now realize how fortunate it was for me to be a straight-A student because it kept prying eyes away from my life and our home.
My most awkward moment occurred on October 12th of my freshman year at the University of San Diego. My phone rang at 6:35 in the evening while I was writing an English essay at my dorm room’s desk. I answered, “Hello.”
“Oh, hi mom.”
“I have some bad news.”
“Okay, let’s have it.”
“Your dad suffered a heart attack this afternoon and died before the paramedics arrived at his office.”
I did not say a word nor did mom. The dead air space continued between us for more than sixty seconds before I finally said, “Oh.”
Mom closed by saying the funeral arrangements would be made the next day.
I hung up, shed no tears and felt no grief.
Is it wrong to feel like this, I wondered. I shrugged off the question and continued writing my essay.
(Continued in Part 4)