Look At Us
We were sitting on the couch when it happened this time. It was always over something stupid. Mom said something and dad argued with her. Then they started yelling and arguing. They would push and shove each other sometimes. They didn't fight though; they just yelled. Lilly was sitting next to me watching the T.V. She tried so hard to ignore it. She always did.
Soon they were so loud we couldn't hear the show. I turned the volume up, but nothing could drown out their yelling and screaming. Lilly's eyes filled with tears and she shoved her fingers into her ears. I put my arm around her and pulled her closer to me. This wasn't fair to her; she was only seven.
I increased the volume again. My dad walked in then and yelled, “Turn that damn television down!” Lilly started to wail unable to control her fear and pain. I turned the T.V. back down, but my glare never left my father's face. “What's her problem?” he growled.
I clenched my jaw in anger, but lied calmly in my reply, “Her favorite character just died in the drama we're watching.” They were watching a comedy. Without another word, my dad stormed off. My mom came into the living room then. Her face was pale and she looked sick. I didn't care. If she loved us, she would have kicked our father out or moved us away. A good mother wouldn't expose us to this.
He left the room and went to his bedroom. It wasn't ten minutes before his mother had come upstairs for bed. A few minutes after that, Lilly stuck her head into my room. “Night Matty.” For whatever reason she refused to call him Matt or Mathew. He was always Matty.
“Night Lil.” She smiled and walked to her room. I had only turned my light out to lay down five minutes before I heard a quiet knock on my door. Lilly opened my door without an invitation. This wasn't the first time she had done this.
“Matty,” Lilly began with those wide eyes, “Mommy and Daddy are arguing too loud. I can't sleep. Can I sleep with you tonight?” Lilly's room was between mine and ours parents. The wall that separated the two was paper thin.
“Sure Lil. Your are always welcome here. This is our safe zone, remember?”
She smiled in that cute little way, the way only a seven year-old can. “I remember.” She curled up under the cover next to me and breathed into my chest. “Night Matty.”
Swallowing at the lump in my throat I said, “Night Lil.” I put my arm around her because she told me it made her feel safe. I was so tired that I fell asleep almost instantly.
When I woke up the next day, I got ready for school. I might be the only child that likes school. Not because we learn, no, that's not the reason. I like school because it is a safe haven from the hell of a home I'm living in. The school day passed too quickly and I was on the bus for home.
Lilly and I watched our normal after school shows. When it came time for dinner, our father had yet to come home. He was often at work late. He also fought with our mom more on these kind of nights. We had just put our hands together to pray when our father opened the door so hard it the table in the hall. It sent a glass vase to the floor where it shattered, spraying water everywhere.
Our mother ran over to him and yelled at him for being so violent. Then they started arguing again. I prayed as loud as I could, “Bless this food god and bless you for this warm and loving family. Bless you for giving Lil and me such a wonderful home and parents who take such good care of us. I your name I pray. Amen.”
“Amen,” Lilly echoed with a look of utter shock in her blue eyes. It didn't do what it was supposed to. They still wouldn't look at us; they never did anymore. Not at the same time anyway. Whenever they were in the same room they were always fighting. I put one of my earbuds in as we started eating. It was like they didn't see us right behind them. Their stupid fight was more important.
Lilly looked at me and asked, “Is it because of us? Is that why they fight?” She didn't let me console her before she plugged her ears and started rocking in her chair. She had her eyes closed as she cried, as she sobbed. Still they couldn't see us; they were blind. Watching her, the song ended and the next one started. The song that blared in my ear was “Dare You to Move.”
“I dare you to move. I dare you to move. I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor. I dare you to move,” my mp3 player screamed in my ear. I saw my little sister crying and shaking. I saw my parents pointing and yelling and shoving.
And I stood up. My chair clattered to the floor as I ran at them. My earbud pulled out of my ear and the player hit the kitchen tile with a quiet click. Then I was between them, pushing them apart. I shoved my father into the door as hard as I could. “Look at us; look at us!” I screamed at them, “We're your children! Is this what we deserve? Lilly's only seven; I'm ten! Your arguing is hurting us.” My voice quieted at the end. I just couldn't yell anymore.
I didn't know why, but I was crying, not sobs like Lilly. The tears that ran down my cheeks made no sound. Our father wasn't even affected. He stormed upstairs to the bedroom, still pissed off. Now though, his anger was directly focused on me instead of mom. I turned around to see our mother crying. She came up to me and hugged me.
Her mouth was right next to my ear when she whispered, “I'm so sorry. I'm going to fix this. I'll fix it.” She followed our father up the stairs and I walked over to Lilly. I lightly tapped her shoulder and her eyes opened. When she saw me, she took her fingers out of her ears and followed me to the living room.
I turned on the T.V. and Lilly started her homework. Right about then they started shouting louder than they ever had. I heard little snippets of the conversation. Mom yelling, “To our children!” Dad shouting, “Uck do you care!” “Out! Out right now!” our mother screamed. Then there was a lot of clatter and stomping around upstairs. When our father swung around the corner into the living room, the world seemed to stop for a moment.
Then he shouted, “You little bastard! You did this!” He ran across the room in two strides and slapped my face so hard I fell of the couch. My mom was there a moment later holding a suitcase in one hand and a phone in the other. She saw me on the floor my cheek red with my father standing over me and knew what he had done.
“Get out right now,” she said with absolute calm, “or I will call the police. Don't test me. I will not hesitant.”
His hand fell to his side as his shoulders slumped. There was hurt and surprise and regret in his eyes. He didn't say another word to any of us. He grabbed the bag and left. It was almost surreal.
That was about two weeks ago. We are all doing quite well now. Lilly sleeps in her own bed and I haven't seen her cry since. I can bring friends over again too. We never have to worry that mom and dad will fight and ruin our night. That's probably the nicest part.
Mom and dad are going to get divorced. Most kids would be upset about that, but our house was too broken. It would have happened anyway. I think one parents who loves us is better than two who can't see us past their hatred. Silly as it seems, this is our happily ever after.