I graduated from high school in May of 1984. I was only 17 years old and wouldn’t turn 18 until November, so my father believed he still had control over me until then. That summer everything was okay, until the summer school break was over, and everyone went back to work or school, except me.
Midway through August, Mom, Dustin and Suzy started back to school. Mom had started working at the school as a dishwasher, so she could be at the school to help Dustin whenever he needed her. Richard began working a part-time job that was more like helping a friend do a few things. He got paid very little and was gone most of the time, leaving me at home most days alone with my father. I tried to avoid him as much as possible by getting up early and going swimming at the pond or laying on the big rocks at my secret place.
Early one morning I could hear my father in the kitchen when I got up, so I decided to skip breakfast, headed straight outside, and disappeared into the woods. I walked up the stream that was almost completely dry, then on up to the pond. The weather was very hot and the pond water had become very low. The water was muddy where the cattle had been there earlier and moss was beginning to grow heavily in one corner. I stood on the pond bank looking at the water. As hot as it was, the water just looked too nasty for me to get in, so I decided to head towards the house. I walked in and it was 12:34 pm. I was hungry and headed towards the kitchen. I went past my father's bedroom and saw him laying naked on his bed. I walked straight to the kitchen and got something to eat to take with me. I walked back through the living room to leave and saw him sitting in his recliner, naked, rubbing himself. I quickly went to walk past him and he reached out and grabbed my arm.
"Come here", he said squeezing my arm and pulling me towards him. He grabbed my hand and put it on his penis, but I pulled away. He sat up and looked at me.
"Where you been?"
"Out walking by the creek", was all I managed to say.
"I don't want you down there by yourself".
"Why!" I said rather loudly but still with some caution in my voice.
He stood and slapped me hard across the face, "as long as you live under my roof you'll do as I say".
As I back away, he pushed me down on the couch. He walked over near me and put his penis near my mouth, holding it out in his hand.
I spit on him, rolled off the couch and ran outside. Seconds later, he came running out with a gun in his hands. When I saw it, I turned to walk away, but he quickly grabbed my hair and pulled me down to the ground. He put the gun in my face, "I ought to blow your fucking head off, you ungrateful bitch, but you're not worth the price of the bullet."
I was so scared, thinking he was going to do what he promised to do several years ago. Then suddenly I realized I didn’t care if I lived or died. I became okay with death.
"Just fucking do it you son-of-bitch. I'm so sick of your shit!” I shouted with unbelievable rage.
"You get your things and get out. You come back and I'll kill you and dump your body where no one will ever find it. You understand me!!?” he shouted loudly as he held the gun against my face.
I nodded my head up and down, and then he turned and walked away as I laid there for a moment shaking.
A few minutes later, he got in his truck and left. I had to make a plan right then and there; it was time for me to leave. I didn’t know where I was going or how I was going to get there, but I knew I had to go now or someone was going to die. I quickly went in the house and packed a few of my things. I was afraid I might run into him while walking up the driveway to the highway, so instead I cut across the backfields up to the highway. I still had no idea where I was going, but I knew I wasn't staying there another moment. I wasn’t going to let him take away any more of my breaths. I would just walk so far away, that I would become lost, I told myself.
During the walk, Mom had made it back home and was told that I was leaving home. I had made it a few miles down the highway when she pulled up behind me.
"Get in Tayla. Let's go back to the house", Mom shouted out of the window of the car.
"NO! I'm not going back to that house ever again".
"Where are you going then?"
I quickly thought and said, "To Uncle Jack's house in Nowata".
"Okay. Get in and we'll go back to the house so I can get a spare tire, I don't have one".
"No!” I yelled, "I'm not going back to that house."
"I don't have a spare Tayla Ann!” she shouted back at me.
"Go get it and come back, but I'm not going back."
"Alright. Get in and I'll take you to your Uncle's", she finally agreed.
On the way, we spoke very little. I mainly looked out my window, watching the tree's go by, and thinking. I wanted to tell her why Dad and I argued so much; why I hated him with all my heart, why I wanted to take his life and then my own. But I couldn't tell because I was afraid of what might happen. I knew it would mean he would go to jail, but not for long. My father had told me on different occasions, "If I go to jail, I'll get out and when I do, I'm going to kill you, your mom, brothers and sister". He would then quickly change his tone, "besides we're a family, you don't want to break up our family, do you? You'll never see them ever again. They'll take you and put you with strangers. Is that what you want?" He would then squeeze my arm until I said no. It made me feel like it would be my fault. I couldn't be the one who caused the division of my family. It would be another secret for me alone to keep. I just told her I couldn't take the yelling anymore and left it at that.
Twenty minutes later, we pulled into my Uncle's driveway. Mom stood outside and talked with Uncle Jack while I went inside and put my things in the extra bedroom. It had a full size bed and a dresser, with a small walk in closet in one corner and a door that opened to the bathroom. The house hadn't changed much, except it had gotten older. Inside it smelled strong of cigarette smoke from my Uncles years of smoking without opening the windows and letting the house air out. The kitchen and bathroom were in really bad shape, but nothing I couldn't take care of I told myself. I sat my things down on the bed, and then went to say good-bye to Mom.
"If you need anything just call me at the school."
"I love you Tayla. Take care."
I told her goodbye and she walked sadly away.
Uncle Jack and I talked for a little while as we sat down on the sofa in the living room. He said it was fine if I stayed, but I would have to buy all my own food and other things that I needed. He said he would be gone most of the time staying with some friends across the street, so if I needed anything I could find him over there and he walked out the front door. I walked into 'my bedroom’, smiled and took a deep breath. I felt free.