“Chanda what’s your favourite color sweetie?”
The woman paused her rampant writing on her notebook. How could one write so much when I haven’t said more than a sentence in the last 10 minutes? My eyes darted to the clock over her shoulder. They never stay more than 20 minutes not including the home inspection, so 30 minutes. I flinch at the thought of 20 minutes of this uncomfortable ordeal. This wearisome show of lying.
“Mallory, did you hear what I said?” I glanced back at her, frustration gently furrowing her brows. She knows something is wrong, most of them do. I clasped my hands tightly and leaned forward.
“I like blue”. I answered carefully.
A smile lit up on her face and there she went again writing furiously. In the beginning curiosity burned through me. What were they writing about me that amounted to pages and pages? As much as I strained my eyes to catch a glimpse, I could never seem to catch a single word. The more interviews the less curious I began, until the repetition of all the questions just seemed to become an irritated cycle that seem to never end.
“You know my son is favourite color is blue Chanda “Her plastered smile never seemed to waver.
She quickly looked at the door to see if it remained closed. That’s how I know they were going to ask the serious questions.
I inwardly sighed.
“Chanda, you know you can tell me anything. I’m going to ask you a few questions and try to answer them the best you can sweetie”
I gazed at her warily, again I would have to lie. I ran over my practised answers in my head.
“Does your mom shout at you when you’ve done something to upset her?” Her voiced seemed to go from an overly perky to a gentle prodding.
“No.” I said clearly.
Her face seems to fall. She then continued to write speedily in her notebook.
I begin to watch the Minnie mouse clock behind her. A minute hand slowly make its way around its confines of the circle. 3 minutes.
“Does she ever hit you when she is mad, Chanda”?
The question breaking my fascination with the clock. I quickly glance at her before I return my gaze at the clock.
“No” I said quietly.
“Are you sure Chanda? You can tell me anything. I can help you.” Her voice thick with concern. I see her staring at me from the corner of my eye.
“No, she doesn’t” I replied more forcefully.
She sighed as she kept writing in her mysterious notes. It’s been 18 minutes now.
“It’s been a nice talking to you Chanda.” She packed up her pen and notebook in her little tan bag.
She withdrew a small white card from her bag.
“Here is my number, if you ever want to talk just call this number right here. “She pointed at the small black digits on the bottom.
I nodded while I read the gleaming print on the card. All the social workers always gave me a card before they left. I always managed to toss them in the trash before my mother noticed.
She gave me one more smile before she headed to the door.
I glanced up at the clock once more. 20 minutes.
I followed the lady downstairs where my mother sat primly on our couch. She cleaned up well crisp jeans and a burgundy shirt. She brushed her hair back from her face. A fake smile seemed to invade my mother’s face as soon as she saw us.
“Chanda and I are done talking Ms. Venders, it’s time for me to inspect the house “the social worker said politely.
My mom jumped up and over exuberantly said yes of course and continued to show the lady the rest of the house.
I took the chance to escape to my room. Quiet descending on me like a gentle wave. I close my eyes and enjoyed the moment. The door closing woke me up from my light slumber. I was always on alert. My eyes whipped to the clock it’s been 10 minutes. The social worker left.
My mother steps echoed loudly as she came upstairs. I quickly sat up moving towards the corner farthest from the door.
She burst in.
“What did you say?!” my mother demanded, already half shouting.
I look at the tiny stitches on the edge of my sheets.
“Nothing, I said nothing.”
“If I hear anything Chanda, you’ll see what happens.”
I watched her storm off. I slowly let go a breath I was holding.
Downstairs I heard the familiar slam of the fridge door and her loud footsteps descend further into the basement.
I looked at the clock. 10 minutes the social workers been gone, and she was at it again. A Few minutes passed as I heard music blasting, filling my room with gentle vibrations from the pulsating sounds below.
A few hours later I woke up to darkness. I must’ve slept through the afternoon. I got up quickly making my way downstairs. I could hear several voices and music blasting in the basement. It seems my mother got a full party swinging while I was asleep. I make my way to the kitchen. The counter was crowded with beer bottles and cigarette buds. The sink overflowing with plates and cups. I sighed while I rolled up my sleeves and brought out my step stool to clean before my mother notices. Halfway through the dishes the pleasant scent of lemon wafted strongly through the small kitchen. I began to relax as I was scrubbing a small plate.
“whatchya thoing thereee” slurred a man from behind me. I dropped the plate in surprise. I spinned around quickly.
The man was swaying barely supporting his weight. He smiled his front teeth missing.
“How olth are ya hun” his eyes slowly gazing over my body.
“I’m 7 years old “I replied shakily as he crept a little too close to me.
“Such a young age for a pretty little girl “his large finger sliding down my cheek.
“John!! Where are you” I heard my mom shouting as she climbed up the basement stairs.
The man swayed back from me before my mother reached the kitchen. She looked between me and her friend.
“I was just getting thome beer, Sandra.” His toothless smile appearing once more before he returned to the party below.
“what did I tell you about talking to anyone that comes here Chanda” she said sharply.
I took a step back the sink biting into my shoulders. My mother blocked the only exit.
“your just as stupid and useless as your father “she sneered.
I kept my gazed down at the tiles of the kitchen floor.
She quickly shot forward and grabbed my hair throwing me on the floor. My face taking most of the impact. A hot liquid began warming my face. I shut my eyes tight as I saw her foot swinging. The blow crushing my sides. I heaved in a shallow painful breath preparing for the next kick. Searing pain shooting from my side again and again.
As I lay on the floor, I begin to tune out the noise until I hear nothing and the pain I felt the first few times fades away. I turn it all off. I’ve become good at that. I just started watching the blood drip from my nose making intricate designs following the tiny crevices and cracks on white and blue tiled floor.
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