by Sage Leona
My parents have always fought. Mentally, verbally, physically. All of my memories of my entire first fifteen years of life are entwined with horror stories of their annoyances which turned into disagreements always becoming an argument and usually escalating into a fight.The fights never seemed to end, they lasted fifteen years and for all I know are still going on. Bitter words pouring out of my mother’s mouth like vomit as angry fists from my father break through things in our house that never became mended, are constant reminders.
One of my first memories of the fifteen-year fight happened at an age when I was told to be in bed by 8:00. The raised voices woke me up from downstairs, the sound of strangers at my front door. I pulled my Disney princess blanket down from around my chest and set my little stuffed lamb on my pillow to wait for me until I came back. I ran my fingers along the edge of my sisters’ wooden crib, sound asleep just a few feet away from my own bed. I began to tiptoe down the stairs; one hand brushing the cold, white wall as I tried to listen and understand what was going on.
I peeked around the corner of the staircase, two blonde braids hanging around my face with blue, sleepy eyes trying to adjust to the brightness.
“I don’t want my wife coming home at fucking three in the morning with two men in the car with her Sarita, that’s the fucking problem”
my father’s voice made my heart rate rise. I looked at my Aunt Sarita standing in the doorway next to my mother, both of them dressed in small black dresses and sparkly jewelry. I noticed my mother’s feet; I had never seen her wear high heels before. My Aunt Sarita screamed back at my father, nasty words which made him push her out the door so that the two Puerto Rican men standing on the porch would get in the car and drive her home.
“You’re disgusting” Sarita spat at him. She tried to hug my mother goodbye, but the door was slammed in her face.
My mother’s eyes glanced up at the stairway to find me staring. Barely twenty-four, she told me as sternly as she could to get back in my bed and fall asleep. She looked tired. I didn’t move until my father turned around and raised his voice loud enough to scare me and ask why I was awake. I ran up the stairs using my arms and my legs and crawled into my sisters’ crib to curl up with her, trying to make my body as small as possible.
The next day I walked into the bathroom and saw my mother crying, rubbing at sore places on her body that were covered by clothes. “Why is he so mean” she sobbed to me, or maybe to her own reflection in the mirror. I wrapped my arms around her waist, my head barely reaching to her belly button. I wondered if our hearts were bleeding. She wiped the tears away from her brown eyes with toilet paper and walked out of the bathroom door to continue her day. I began to hear water running in the kitchen and the clatter of a pan being placed on the stove. I lingered there for a while, my single reflection looking back at me, worried. Only now do I realize why my mother sometimes limped, and that the bruises I found on her arms weren’t from accidents.
Sage Leona is a Cancerian who enjoys putting her emotions into words that other people can read and understand. She is a senior in college and hopes to one day join the Peace Corps and be a bartender.
Artist: Sohei Szincza