Behind Closed Doors
To all those people out there who think you see your life flash before your eyes when you're going to die, I have some major news for you; it doesn't happen. How do I know? Because I've had seven chances to get the replay of my life, and it hasn't happened. Not even once.
I grew up in a small town. There were no secrets. At least, that's what everyone said. That's what everyone thought. But behind closed doors, there were plenty of secrets. Secrets I lived with everyday. Secrets that made up my life. Secrets that were my life.
Glass shattered from somewhere in the garage. Silence filled the kitchen as my mother and siblings anxiously waited for an angry, violent face to appear from the kitchen. Nothing. Silence. Then screaming split the air. He was screaming bloody murder again.
Ding! The timer for our dinner went off. Leaping up, my mother turned it off and started picking up various children's items and placing them out of sight. Maybe, just maybe, if he didn't see the children's toys, he wouldn't think of us, and we wouldn't get hurt this time. My little sister clutched my hand, and I steered her towards the stairs, moving quickly past the garage door. I paused on the landing, glancing behind me to make sure my brother had followed. His head bumped into me; he hadn't been paying attention, and hadn't noticed that I'd stopped. Glass shattered again, and I grabbed both their hands and headed for the bunk bed in my room. My brother immediately clambered up, pulling blankets over himself to hide. He knew the drill. My sister followed slowly, making a fuss of having her stuffed animals with her. She didn't know better. What 4-year-old would? Footsteps sounded behind me, and I spun around, wired for defense, or attack, if necessary. My mother shushed me and pointed to my bottom bunk, which was shielded by a sheet I had hung from the top bunk. I crawled under blankets for extra safety, leaving a small space to look through. Eyes glinted form my closet; my mother's eyes. They widened as footsteps came up the stairs rapidly, headed for my room. They turned at the last second into my parent's room, and continued into the bathroom. The faucet squeaked as running water was turned on, and I heard moans of pain from the bathroom. His moans of pain.
"Where are you?!" I saw my mother wince as his voice split our ears.
"Get out here! NOW!" Heavy footsteps once again began to draw near. Closing her eyes, my mother stepped from her hiding space, trying to avoid him coming into the room where we all lay hidden.
"You don't understand! I hate you! I hate your God! You don't understand how painful it is for me to go to church!" My mother started to back up, but he grabbed her wrist, twisting it angrily. He shoved her into the room, and she collapsed on the floor. Slamming the door, he joined us in my room.
"No one understands me! No one loves me!" He sat down heavily on the floor and began pounding on the floor with his feet. My mother cautiously approached him, trying to calm him down.
"You could call your sister, she loves you. She understands." My mother drew a bit closer.
"No!" He screamed and lashed out with his arms, and she jumped back, not wanting to anger him further.
She sat down on the floor, leaning back against a chair. Scissors! Moving slightly, I tried to get her attention. If he tried to hurt her again, she could use the scissors against him! Finally noticing me, she sneakily slid the scissors behind her back. Distracted by me, he was able to attack her, clutching her throat tightly.
"...R... run! Get... get help!" She choked out instructions. I leapt out from under the covers, trying to make it to the door. He noticed, and he dropped her, slamming the door out of my hands and blocking the way. I backed up slowly and sat back down on my bed. Now even angrier, her closed in on my mother, pushing her down against a plastic sock container that was in the corner. Wincing in pain, she picked herself up, clutching her side. She pulled her hand away, blood on her hand. She glanced at the now broken container, the broken plastic pierced with blood.
"Mom!" He was going for her neck again!
She turned, but was slowed by her wound. Choking her once more, he started to lift her off the ground. Go for the door.... now! I bolted, straight for the door. He blocked me, again cutting off our escape. Without turning my back, I sat down once more on my bed.
"I've cut the phone lines." His voice was full of conviction. "It's over."
With inhuman strength, he lifted the pure maple 6 drawer dresser full of clothes up, causing the many posters, papers, and school projects I had kept neatly stored behind it to fall to the floor in a messy pile.
"Pick them up!" The command was directed at my mother, I could tell. I silently pleaded with her not to move; he would drop it on her and kill her, and we would be left to the mercy of my strength versus that of my father's. She remained where she was.
"Pick them up! I'll count to 5!" He sounded like a parent scolding a child; that is, a sadistic, insane, parent on an inhuman rampage.
"Or else what?" He voice was quiet and broken.
"5...4...3" He counted down, preparing to do something; I didn't know what.
"Or else what?" She asked again, her voice a bit stronger.
"...2...1." He hefted the dresser up, then threw it. I saw it blur in front of me, and felt the left side of my face grow numb. Warm, sticky liquid spilt on my arm. It landed, pinning her down. Then he ran, running from his own reality.
She struggled for her freedom, like a broken bird who fell from its tree, unable to move any longer.
"Mom?" I tried to get to her, to help her. I couldn't. What had trapped her had also trapped me. She was trapped under it, and I was trapped on the wrong side. She stopped struggling for a minute. I saw her eyes close.
"Mom!" She couldn't die! She couldn't!
Her eyes shot open, and she lifted the dresser off of herself with a burst of uncharacteristic strength. Struggling to her feet, the turned and started out the bedroom door.
"Get them out. I'm going for help, ok? Get your siblings out." She turned back around and sprinted down the stairs and out the door. I heard her voice echoing and she called for the neighbors to call 911.
"You heard her, let's go!" I gritted my teeth after I spoke, the left side of my face hurt badly. My brother practically jumped down and crept over to the stairway, although he stayed off the stairs.
"Come on!" I urged my sister.
"My penguin! I want my penguin!" She reached for her 4-foot penguin.
"No! You can't bring that! We need to go NOW." She pouted but came down, although slowly.
"Come on, sweetie." I coaxed her now, and she responded fairly well.
Grabbing her hands, I lead her over to stairs. We started to head down, and I started to relax a bit. We might be ok. Then I saw him. He turned the stairs, headed straight for us. With his shotgun. Pointing it straight at me, he cocked it.
All hell broke loose. My sister screamed. So did my brother. So did I.
My instincts kicked in, finally, and I grabbed them and ran. But I ran the wrong way. I ran towards a room with no exit; the guest room. The stairs were the only way out. And he was advancing up them quickly. And with a gun. I looked around the guest bedroom, frantic. Realizing there was no way out, I stationed my siblings behind me. I would do everything possible to protect them. I already realized it would more than likely be in vain. But there was that slim chance they could escape.
"If you get the chance, run, and don't stop." My sister nodded, and after a moment's hesitation, my brother did too. With a heart-wrenching realization, I saw in his eyes the understanding of what would probably happen here. No six -year-old should understand these things. No child should have to.
Whether it was God or just my subconscious' awakening senses, I didn't know then, but I suddenly understood. We would live through this. All of us. Later, we may wish we wouldn't have, but we would. We had things we still needed to do. Turning on a dime, I spun to the window behind us. I didn't bother with the lock; I simply threw the window up, breaking the pathetic lock and cracking the glass. The screen stood in my way, and I shoved it aside, scratching my arm as a hole was ripped right in the center. Hoisting my brother up, I set him out on the frozen roof.
"Don't move." I warned. I knew if he did, he would slip and fall to the cement below. Next, I sent my sister through, followed by myself. Lowering my summer- dressed self to the frozen roof, I got on my hands and knees. They climbed on my back, and we moved to the shadows, hiding. I saw his silhouette in the window, outlined by the yellow light. His hand shot through the window as he tried to fit through, but his crazed mind couldn't comprehend how to fit through, especially with a shotgun, and his silhouette disappeared. The roof rumbled shortly after; he was opening the garage. I held my sister's small hand in one hand and held onto the top of the roof with the other. My brother was already clutching the top with both hands, his face frozen in a mask of shock. I held back the tears of realization, trying to be strong for my siblings. They needed me now. There would be plenty of time for tears later.
The bushes across the street rustled, and I turned. I barely made out my mother's face, along with my neighbor's. I saw her start for the house, seeing out faces, but the neighbor held her back. He knew my father would fire if she came close. For now, all we could to was hold on until the police came. I saw him appear and go out to his car.
He couldn't leave now! Not before the police came! He put something in his car, then disappeared out of my view as he returned to the garage.
Random electricity charged through my body, and I closed my eyes in pain. I knew I couldn't make a sound or let my mother or sibling know I was in pain. When I opened them again, the view had changed. I was watching myself. Almost like I was standing in the tree right next to my roof. Had I died? Maybe. But I could still feel my body... I was still there. I closed my eyes again, and upon opening them, I was back in my body. A bright light blinded my momentarily.
"Hello? How many of you are there?" An office was peeking out from behind a neighbor's trashcan.
I held up three fingers, unable to speak.
"Are you ok?"
I looked down at my arms. There were no scratches. I touched my face, expecting dried blood. There was none. I felt my nose. It was still crooked. I blinked in pure shock. My wounds were healed. The scratches from the glass, screen, and roof had been fairly bad, nothing horrendous, but still not good, and the wounds from the dresser had been much worse; I wouldn't have been surprised if my jaw had been broken. And now they were gone. I wasn't injured anymore. Getting affirmation from my siblings, I nodded to the officer. He beckoned to other officers, and they approached the house.
We stayed put, and within a few minutes an officer's face appeared in the window.
"Come on over. You can come back in." He beckoned to us. Helping my siblings stay balanced, we made our way over. As he was helping my brother in, I glanced behind me. The last thing I saw was my father being led away in handcuffs.
"Your turn." The officer nodded to me, and I stepped back inside my house of hell.