When I was child I use to have this hidden hope for change.
When we moved from New York to Texas at the age of 6, I thought that father would change his drinking habits, my mother would change her work schedule.
When we moved into our apartment, age six, I thought my grandfather would change his way of expressing his love to me, or my father changing his abusive behavior.
When we moved from our apartment to our house, at the age of 8, I thought about the same changes. I even thought my big brother would change his mind and come back to us, but he never did. For some odd reason i thought this house was going to change everything. We moved into a good neighborhood, our elementary and middle school were five minutes away, and we were even improving financially. Everything was going great, so that meant something, right?
I thought if I became used to this new reality then nothing would get worse. Its laughable, how wrong my theory was.
Driving to our new house was beyond exciting. It was not far from our apartment, about 15 minutes. When we arrived, my father parked the truck in the drive way and there it was. We all jumped out of the truck and screamed in excitement.
It was a small, simple, brick ranch style house. A shade of brown and tan like-color covered the front. Five white pillars, the color faded and rusted, stood infront of the entire entrance. I walked towards the door and saw a big window on the left side, “That’s going to be my room.” I whispered to myself.
My father opened the front door. Once we walked in our excitement decreased. We didn’t expect the house to be so mistreated. The carpet and vinyl floor were dirty and worn out, dust was everywhere and on everything. The house looked like it wasn’t properly maintained throughout the years
I wondered off and headed towards a small corridor where the rooms were located. My room was located a few feet away from where the narrow hallways begun. I peeked in, the sun protruding without permission enlightening ever corner of the room; the walls were dirty and needed repainting, the closet was small but usable, the floor was covered in dirt and dust. Even though the room was a complete mess, when I stepped in I felt safe. I stood in the middle of my room for the longest time, “This is it.” I told myself. The next thing I know, my mother is calling me, “Mija, come here!” I looked for my mother and found her in the backyard. My eyes widened when I saw the jungle infront of me; the dark green grass reached my forehead. I could just walk through it and become invisible in an instant. It was huge. We could run, jump, hide, play, or simply lay on the ground and enjoy the open sky.
This was my home; I felt safe. Safe from my past. Safe from the hands of my grandfather. Safe from everyone and anything.
How can a child’s hope crumble so quickly…so easily.
Once we finished the touring of our home we were going to go back to our apartment and prepare everything to move in the next day. My father decided to stay and stay the night. I don’t know why, he just did. So, I gladly volunteered to stay the night with him. I wanted to be the first out of all my siblings to spend the night in our new home.
I looked to my mother, and I could sense she felt insecure, “Can i stay with daddy, please?” I pleaded while my siblings pouted and pleaded my mother as well.
“O-Okay. ” Her words forced and remorseful. My brothers and sister crossed their arms and puffed. I smiled and ran to my father. We seperated a couple of blankets we had in the truck. We waved goodbye as my mother drove away with my siblings. My father and I walked inside. We decided to sleep in the living room. My father placed the thickest blanket on the floor so we could lay down.
I looked outside and the sunny sky was quickly replaced with the moonlight. The wind hummed the sweetest lullaby. The night felt comforting.
My father sat next to me and I smiled at him. We continued talking about our new home. My mind was filled with ideas on how my little sister and I would decorate our room, and I shared it with my father. He looked at me. He didn’t say a word. He just placed his hands on my thigh and kept quiet. My breath paused and my memories of my grandfather flushed in. I kept talking to distract myself from the memories, but my father continued sliding his hands upward. I froze. I stopped talking. The action felt new coming from him, but my feeling felt nostalgic…this wasn’t the first time.
He smiled and looked at me, his hands caressing my inner thigh, “Its okay. This will be a secret between you and meawa
Secret? I don’t like secrets.
The light from the moon suddenly disappeared and everything went dark. The wind stopped humming, not a single sound…silence. I no longer felt the comforting feeling like before, instead fear devoured everything. My vision blurred and my mind traveled elsewhere.
My sunny days were snatched from me. My nights were no longer peaceful and fearless. The home I thought would bring change into my life and make me feel normal betrayed me.
My memories after my father’s words are hazy. As much as I try, I can’t remember the rest of that night. I don’t know if my mind decided to bury those memories to protect me or to just simply avoid it. Then again…what’s the difference?
The sunlight woke me up the next morning.
My father was sleeping next to me. I stood up and stared at the wall in front of me. Through the glass porch doors, I saw birds playing. “Beautiful.” I thought to myself.
I looked at the walls, the ceiling, the floor, the kitchen and realized that I stood in a house where I could no longer call home.