Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bookfield, Home Again - Part 2

I felt the drabness of the terminal closing in on me. A solitary passersby eyed me with sinister or maybe just a hungry look. I was scared. Where was Mom? Why was she so late? I could easily rationalize a one hour traffic delay, but now it was coming up on two hours. Images of terrible car accidents came involuntarily to mind. I clenched my teeth for strength and resolve. I had been through a lot this summer; surely I could over come this. I walked to a bank of telephones and put in a quarter. I telephoned my father’s house in Massapequa, collect. When Dad answered, I burst into tears.

“Dad, I’m at the Greyhound terminal in New York. Mom was supposed to meet me two hours ago and she’s not here. Have you heard from her by any chance?” I stammered.

“Calm down honey.” he crooned. I was reassured just by the sound of his voice. “I’m sure she’s okay. Its probably traffic; I’m sure she’ll show up soon. I tell you what, if she isn’t there in another half hour, I’ll come get you.”

“Thanks Dad. I’ll let you know when I get home, or whatever.” I conquered my outburst. I hung up the phone, did an abut face, and returned to the television circle. Another fifteen minutes passed, and I saw her blond hair and colorful jacket. Relief, accompanied by emotion overtook me. I stood up, but she didn’t see me right away. Finally her head turned in my direction. Her face looked at me sternly. I rushed to her with my arms outstretched, “Mom, you’re alright! I was so worried.” She withdrew from my attempted embrace.

“Not now Susie. I was worried too. I’ve been here for over two hours looking for you. You could have been dead, or you didn’t wait where I told you to?” she said in an edgy pissed off voice.

“I’m sorry, but you must have just missed me by some incredible coincidence! I did wait in the circle from time-to-time, and just outside of it over there” I pointed, “because I was scared and there was a transit cop. I didn’t think you could miss me just right there.”

“I don’t want to talk about it right now! I told you to wait there and you did not do what I told you. Let’s get out of this place.”

I insisted on calling Dad back before we left to make sure he didn’t worry, not hearing from me while we drove home.

“I told you she was okay.” he cooed. He was so supportive. Mom had waited impatiently.

“None of this would have happened if you had waited where I told you to!” she admonished again.

We turned to walk towards the exit. I couldn’t wait to get out of the terminal. Meeting my Mom certainly hadn’t gone as planned. I felt my sadness starting to break as I approached the large exit doors and saw that the sun was still shining brightly. The street looked inviting, even though it was Eighth Avenue, a terrible neighborhood. I walked slightly ahead of Mom to open the door for her. This would all pass and the ride home would be more like I had in mind. I sure had a lot of stories to regale her with.

Suddenly, blinding pain seared across my right temple. In a flash, blunt pain moved through my head from one side to the other. My eyeglasses flew off my face, cutting the bridge of my nose. My head pivoted sharply left. She had punched me. I never saw it coming. She had blindsided me with a sucker punch. Tears instantly came to my eyes, and it took me a few moments to recover from the shock and pain. But the physical pain was hardly a match for the emotional pain I immediately felt. I turned and faced her, looking shocked and distraught. There was no remorse in her face, rather this flushed and scary look that had me thinking that the attack might just continue. She looked right at my face with cold clear eyes and witnessed my pain. Still her face was angry and impassive.

“Let’s go.” she said. No one had seen her hit me. It was the first time in public.

I wept openly as I retrieved my bent eyeglasses from the floor, and tried to examine the cut on my nose. I imagined how Sam would have reacted if he had stayed to wait with me (as he had offered). But I didn’t wish he was here to see this. No, I felt totally humiliated. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone I knew to have seen me then. I felt pathetic and ashamed in my humiliated condition. Every scrap of confidence and self worth I had gained during the entire summer was sucked out of me instantly as if a black hole had appeared in my soul the moment she hit me. I was not independent, or even adult. Who was I kidding? I was that small child again crying for mother’s love, and receiving only contempt. Why? Surely I was the most worthless being on Earth. After all, it was my fault; I had not waited where I was told. The hurt was big enough to crowd out any anger, for I felt none. I was empty of any positive feelings about myself. I felt just plain empty. She opened the door and I walked out mechanically. She looked at me again, but didn’t acknowledge anything with her glance. Overwhelmed, my mind went blank. We drove home, not speaking to one another.

I don’t remember how long it took for any spark of rational thinking to reignite again in my brain. But somewhere, on the Long Island Expressway, out from the total darkness of my thoughts came the idea that it was definitely not right for her to punch me.

Nothing I could ever do would make it right for her to do that to me. It was the only thing I could be sure of at the time. I was way too afraid of her to share my thoughts. I watched her as she drove, looking ahead, never at me, as if nothing had happened. That renewed the hurt, and I sobbed quietly. I began to see her attack as another situation, not unlike those on the bookfield that one must survive. I knew that I could never rely on changing her true nature. She could easily try to hit me again at any time. But I made a vow to myself. I would never, ever allow her to lay a hand on me again. I would watch her like a hawk every moment she was near. She would never have an opening like that one, or any undefended opening again. I promised myself. I was the only one who could prevent her attacks. Never would I allow myself to be physically hurt by her again.

I clung to that thought like a drowning person to a life saver, keeping her in view out of the corner of my eyes. I breathed in deeply as if coming up from a great depth, and being starved for air. I muttered under my breath, “never, never, never!” And in that one moment, I was an adult.



Ryan said...

wow i am lost 4 words u didnt do anything 2 get hit and she was wrong. send hugs and kisses from atlanta!

Sue said...

Yup, you are so right Ryan. Thanks for saying so! :)

Doug said...

I remember havin' anxiety when I was in elementary, waitin' for my mom to pick me up. If she wasn't there for even a minute the time I'm out of the gate, I'd panic, even if my house was just down the street. Fat kids like me would get beat up. :(

Great ending to this series!

Sue said...

Thanks Doug!

David said...

Speechless. I wanted to travel back in time and bitch-slap your mom. So sorry sweetie. Big hugs from the Big Apple.

Sue said...

Thanks for the sentiment David. She really deserved at least that. But, she did do her best. Her mom was an alcoholic and beat her everyday. We've gotten along ever since my brush with death in 1999. See, all I had to do was almost die to show her that she needed to show me some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.