December 10, 1995
Saint Michael, Barbados
Age: Seven Years Old
I heard yet another ear piercing sound of an unknown glass item hitting the wooden walls of the living room, I cradled my knees closer to my chest. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks, splattering onto my pink worn out pajama shirt. I clenched my eyes shut, and leaned my forehead against my knee caps, trying to find a safe space my mind. I began to do a breathing technique that Ms. Samuels, my first grade teacher, taught me for when I feel my self having an anxiety attack.
One. Breathe in. Breathe out.
"LEAVE RONALD. NOW!"
Two. Breathe in. Breathe out.
"THIS IS MY HOUSE, WOMAN!"
Three. Breathe in. Breathe out.
The sound of my dad's hand colliding with what I assume, was my mother's face, is heard all the way in the attic upstairs. Echoing in my head, over and over.
He's drunk again.
He does this every time he comes home from working at the Old Mills Warehouse. He'll be drunk, and'll start an argument with mama over the littlest things. An example is, the house being too cold, or too hot. Mama will try to calm dad down, so they don't wake us. But we always end up awoke, anyways. Then tomorrow, he'll pretend none of it ever happened. And if he had done something really extreme the night before, he'll go to Lawny's Corner Garden Store, and buy mama one single Petunia, since that's her favorite flower. She should have several bouquets of them by now, since it's so often that she receives one.
I hear the front door slam shut, leaving the living room in silence. Dad must've left. I unfold my knees, and slowly crawl out from the attic, making my way down the steps leading into the living room. Halting on the last step at the scene in front of me. My mother on the couch, with her head in both of her palms. Her low sobs filled the room, bringing me out of my trance. Slowly and carefully not to startle her, I make my presence known to my mother. She must've heard my light footsteps anyways, because as I came further into the small living room, red, tearful eyes looked up at me.
Clearing her throat, I watch as my mother tries to gather herself, swiftly wiping her stream of tears away with her wet palms, as if I haven't already seen them.
"What are you doing up, Winnie?"
Hearing my nickname slip from her lips, didn't make my stomach flutter like how it usually does when she calls me by it. Instead, my stomach felt tight, and nauseous. I was unable to say anything. Instead, I slowly walked to my mother, now standing in front of her, and placing my palm on her warm, rosy cheek. Looking into glossy eyes, I was able to see the sadness and hurt in my mothers eyes. An overwhelming feeling washed over me, causing me heart to ache in pain, and my pulse to speed up.
I carefully wrapped my short, slender arms around my mother's neck, as if she was a rare jewel amongst old, dirty stones, and the slightest touch would break her. But tight enough to where, the words, "I love you" were translated into physical affection. Right then and there, the air began to feel less dense around us, just us though, making it easier to breath. As some of my mother's despair was released into the atmosphere.
Pulling away from me, my mother looked into my eyes, causing me to suck in a sharp breath if hair into my lungs.
"Winnie, babygirl, I need you to promise mommy that no matter what, when you leave this house, and find someone you love, love them with your heart, soul, spirit and mind. And never, no matter what temptation you may be faced with, hurt the person you love. Okay?" She says holding out her left pinky finger.
I feel the strings on my heart being tugged, and made a promise to my mama that I shall I always keep till the day I die, and thereafter.
I bring my right pinky finger up, and lock it with hers.
"I promise mama."
Seeing a tear slip from my mother's eye, she brings me into her warm embrace, finally saying the words,
"Mama loves you, Winnie. And don't you ever forget that, baby."
A tear slips from my eyes, causing me to lean close my eyes into my my mother's neck. I whisper,
"I love you too, mama."