It may be that my sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
We had just moved to a new house located deep in the forgotten woods near Verdigris Creek only the day before. The old 1930’s house was located 40 miles from any town and over 10 miles to the nearest neighbor. When you left the house you had to drive up a mile long old bumping dirt road just to reach the large metal gate that was there to keep the land private. After driving through the gate you had to drive down several more dirt roads for several miles before you finally found concrete to drive on. It gave you a feeling of total isolation from the rest of the world. All you could hear was silence when you stood outside and listened; it was nothing like the noises you hear in the city. There were no sounds of cars driving by, horns honking, tries screeching, no planes flying overhead. All you could hear if you listened closely was the wind blowing, and various types of birds chirping and singing out their warning calls to each other. At night the mating calls of different bugs could be heard at a loud echoing pitch until the sun appeared the next morning.
I shared a small bedroom that had no windows with my younger sister, who was only one year old at the time. In another bigger room towards the back of the house was my two brother’s bedroom that they shared. And of course up front in the best part of the house was my parent’s bedroom. In between the kids bedrooms and my parents bedroom there was a very small bathroom that only had a rusty old tub and toilet, next to the barely standing sink.
It was late the first night we moved in, so we weren’t able to take baths before going to bed. By the following night Mom said we were so dirty that she didn’t think there was enough water in the world to get us clean. The small hot water tank that was located in the pantry didn’t work, so water had to be heated in large pots then carried to the bathroom and dumped into the tub. My Mom gave my younger sister a bath first then my two brothers took a bath together. By the time they were done the water was so dirty and cold that I had to wait until more water on the stove began to boil. Mom finished dressing my younger sister for bed and then helped my two brothers get into bed. I shouted at Mom that the water on the stove was boiling and then I quickly went to hide out of the way.
I hated the sound of my parents carrying the large boiling pot of water to the bathroom. You could hear the sound of their feet pounding hard against the floor as they quickly carried the rather awkward heavy pot into the bathroom. Then you heard the water splash hard as boiling water was dumped into the tub that already had some cold water waiting to cool it down. The sound was always frightening when my father did it, because he would scream so loud for everyone to move the fuck out of his way, which caused your heart to rush and feel complete terror at the possibility that he might ‘accidentally’ dump it directly on top of you if you weren’t completely out of his site.
I saw my brothers were in bed already asleep when I hid part way in their room to make sure I was completely out of my father’s way as his feet pounded against the hardwood floors.
“Tayla! Get your butt in here and get your bath over with, so I can take a bath.” My father shouted at me through my bedroom door.
I walked into the bathroom and tested the water before I added a little more cold water. My father yelled at me and told me not to put any more cold water in because he wanted to use the water too, “and it had better not be too damn cold”.
I got undressed and slowly slid down into the water that was almost hot enough to burn my skin. But I didn’t want to make him mad, I just wanted to please him, so I did as I was told. After only 5 minutes my father began banging on the bathroom door from his side that led into his bedroom. I tried to quickly wash my hair and then dump more water over my head to rinse, but the water was still so hot it hurt. I turned on the cold water and started to add more when my father stepped into the bathroom and got really mad at me for using more water.
“I told you not to add any more water!”
“It’s too hot”, I said wanting to get out right then and there.
He put his hand into the water and swished it around. “That water is not that hot. Now hurry it up!”
“What is the problem?” My Mom said stepping into the bathroom.
“The water is too hot”, I said complaining again.
“Well, here just add a little more cold water”, she said turning on the faucet.
I could see the look of hate in my father’s eyes as he turned and walked away.
“I’m going to finish doing some unpacking, so hurry up and finished, then get in bed.”
Five minutes later I was finish and standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom trying to brush out my hair. It was getting so long that it tangled easy and made it hard for my 5 year old hands to undo.
My father got mad again because I was still taking so long, that he walked into the bathroom naked and sat down in the water to take a bath. I walked into my bedroom as I continued to try and comb out my hair. I was still at it when my father had finished his bath and left the bathroom. I walked into the kitchen and asked if Mom could help me out, but she told me she was too busy unpacking and to let Dad help me out. My father heard what Mom said and he called for me to come into the front room. He was sitting in his recliner, still partly wet and completely naked.
“Sit down and let me see your brush.”
I sat down on his lap as he began trying to brush out my hair that hadn’t been brushed since the day before we moved. He pulled my hair hard a couple of times and I cried out.
“Just hold your butt still and it won’t hurt”, my father screamed at me as he tried brushing out the back of my hair.
I sat still as I could as he pulled my hair until it felt like I had no hair remaining on one side of my head.
“Good girl”, my father said I sat there without moving, barely breathing. Suddenly I felt his hand between my legs as he cupped his hand over my tiny vagina. At first I kept quiet as he continued to untangle my hair slowly. His hand then pulled my panties to one side and he tried to slide one of his fingers inside of me. It hurt really bad and I screamed out. Mom heard me scream and stepped into the front room to see what was wrong. When she saw Dad was still combing out my hair she thought I was just complaining and told me I needed to be quiet.
“Just sit still and let your daddy finish. If you hold still and it won’t hurt. And I don’t want to hear any more screaming. You’re going to wake your brothers and sister up, so be quiet! Sit there and let your dad finish what he’s doing.”
Mom then walked back into the kitchen where I could hear her putting things away in the cabinets as if she was angry at me. I closed my eyes tightly and let my father continue.
He began combing my hair with one of his hands while his other hand went back to where it had been between my legs. This time when his finger went inside of me again, I kept quiet.
I convinced myself it was all normal.
We are nothing, if not the product of our childhoods. Incomplete and somehow broken, struggling to find the pieces, and put them back together. Like a jigsaw puzzle, that’s not all there.
Well behaved women rarely make history.
Everything is always okay in the end, if it's not, then it's not the end.