"No, Daddy! Please!"
He ignored me like he always did, and then his fist swung again and again, hitting Mommy until she was lying on the ground, not moving. Then he kicked her, and when I tried to place myself between them, he kicked me, too. I flew across the room, and my head hit the coffee table. Stars flashed before my eyes as my daddy continued to pummel my mommy.
"You stupid bitch!" Daddy screamed at Mommy. "You can't get a fucking thing right! Is dinner at six o'clock too much to ask for, you stupid cunt?"
When he finished beating her, he stomped to the kitchen, got three beers out of the fridge, and stretched out on the couch to watch football on TV.
The pain in my head was excruciating, but I managed to crawl over to my mommy. She wasn't moving, and I quickly realized that she wasn't breathing, either. I shook her silently to get her to wake up, but nothing happened. I laid my head on her chest and waited for my daddy to pass out like he did every night. When he did, I crept to the front door, opened it, and ran out into the winter air dressed only in my cotton nightgown. No coat, no shoes, nothing else. I ran down the steps to the street, and then I turned right and ran to the nearest neighbor. I knocked on the door, but no one answered. I tried every door on our street, and at many, there was no noise from inside, but from others came a loud, angry voice telling me to go away. Finally, more than three blocks from our home, a man answered the door and asked me what had happened. When I told him I thought my mommy was dead, he drew me inside the house.
By the time the police showed up at his house, the nice man and his wife had given me some of their son's clothes to wear and had fed me some soup. I shrank back from the large policeman who tried to talk to me, though. He reminded me too much of my daddy. He had the same black uniform.
"Come on, sweetheart," the policeman said to me as he held out his hand. "Tell me what happened at your house."
I took a tentative step toward him, and he smiled. I slowly put my hand in his, and it was swallowed as he closed his fingers around it. He led me to the couch and sat me down on it.
"Now, little one, tell me what happened," he said, so I did.
I told him about how my daddy had beaten my mommy again and how he had kicked me as well. The policeman looked at my head when I said I had hit it on the coffee table, and he ran his fingers over it softly. I told him that I had tried to wake up my mommy, but that she hadn't been breathing when I left our townhouse. I talked with him for a long time, and then he took off his big, thick jacket and draped it around me before picking me up and carrying me to his car.
That was the last time I saw my mother, the last time I was in that dismal house, and the last time I saw my father for many, many months, and it was weeks before anyone told me that my mother had died on our living room floor, bleeding out onto the shabby green carpet as my father snored on the couch.
The last day of my mother's life was my sixth birthday.