Break the Child: Chapter Thirty Five: Not that Kind of Family...2
She burst in my door last night. Her face was all screwed up and she was screaming mad at me.
‘Where is it?’
Right from the second she ran in I was scared because she was so mad— crazy mad.
‘Where’s what, Mum? What do you want?’
‘I know you’ve got it. What have you done with it, you scabby cow?’
My own mother had just called me a scabby cow. I felt the tears come into my eyes. She carried on shouting and I shuffled up my bed as she came towards me with her finger pointing and her face all out of control.
‘You’d better not have marked it. I’ve told you to leave my stuff alone.’
I never touch her stuff. It’s the other way round. I’ll come home from school and my drawers will be open and my things will be all over the floor and all over my bed. One day, she put some of my clothes in the bath and turned the tap on. She hadn’t put the plug in, but the clothes had blocked the plughole and the water had risen. It was lucky that Mum went downstairs soaking wet because then Aunty Helen, who was looking after her, saw what she’d done before it flooded the house.
But I can’t have a lock because we’re not that kind of family.
‘Give me my pencil skirt. And it’d better be clean because I’m going to the `Coro disco tonight.’
‘I haven’t got it Mum. Honest. I don’t even know what a pencil skirt is.’
‘Liar, give it to me.’
She was up close now and screaming right in my face. She reached out to grab me and I escaped under her arm and got off the bed.
‘It’s okay, Mum. Look if you want a skirt, I’ve got lots of them. Let’s choose one together. I went to my wardrobe and had my back to her. I started going through the clothes to find any skirts that I could. I was scared. I’d never seen her this crazy before. I pulled out a skirt with a print on it, because she likes bright colours. I thought it would distract her.
She grabbed me from behind. I heard her scream and then she had her fist in my hair and she twisted my hair around her hand and pulled me back. And we were both screaming. I was yelling for Dad to come—but he wasn’t there.
She pulled me into the middle of the room by my hair and I twisted round to try and get her off me. I was crying and she was ugly and shouting in my face. She called me a bitch and a little whore.
I tried to get to the door, but she’s bigger and stronger than me. She still had me by the hair, and it was ripping out of my scalp. I was terrified.
Somehow she got me onto the floor.
She climbed on top of me.
She put her knees on my arms so that I couldn’t move.
I was screaming for Dad to come, but I was alone.
And that’s when she punched me in the face. She pulled her arm back and I saw it coming. I tried to move my head out of her way, but it was too late, and she punched me full in the face with her fist.
This was my own mother. She wouldn’t even kill flies; she always said they had as much right to live as we do. But she punched me in the face with all of her might.
My head cracked against the floor and everything went fuzzy. My face was just a blob of agony and the back of my head was throbbing with white hot pain. I’d stopped calling for Dad. He wasn’t coming. I was sobbing now and begging her to stop.
‘Mum, please. Don’t hit me again, it’s me, Katie. It’s your daughter.’
She didn’t stop.
She grabbed me by my shoulders and pulled me off the floor and she slammed my head down so that it bounced off the carpet. And she kept slapping me across the face, big hard slaps that sounded like bombs going off. She banged my head on the floor again. She did it again and again until I couldn’t see anymore. I thought I was going to die. I thought she’d broken my head and all I could feel was pain and everything going black.
Somewhere in the distance I heard feet pounding up the stairs, but they sounded as though they were stairs in a much bigger house than ours because they came from a long way away.
I heard the door bang back on its hinges and my dad was there. He ran over to Mum and tried to get her off me. But she was crazy and even with Dad screaming and pulling at her she just kept lifting my head and slamming it down, and all the time she was calling me bad names and spitting all over my face as she said them because she was crazy.
I heard my Dad say, ‘Oh God, Annie. What have you done? What have you done? I was only in the garage for a minute.’ and then he said to me, ‘Oh God, look at your poor face.’
And he was pulling at Mum to get her off and trying to reason with her.
She lifted my head again and slammed it down.
Dad screamed, ‘Get off her Annie, you’re going to kill her.’
And then I think he realised that being kind wasn’t going to work. This wasn’t my nuts Mum dancing with my boyfriend, the one that could be just prised off and moved away. This was my crazy, psychotic mother who was trying to kill me.
I think he lost his temper with her.
He gave an almighty heave and her hands wrenched free of me as though they’d been superglued, and it took all of his strength to get her off. Everything was hazy and it all happened fast, but I think Mum stumbled to her feet and started fighting with dad. I heard her making screaming noises deep in her throat and heard her hitting him over and over. Dad had his hands across his face to shield himself, but she just kept on hitting him and screaming.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her across the room.
Her feet left the floor and I saw her crash into the chest of drawers. Her back slammed into the furniture and she sort of crumpled, like a crash test dummy. Her head bounced forward and then it sprang back—and then she was still.
I think he threw her too hard. I don’t think he needed to be that rough.
Mum was quiet.
And then Dad was on his knees beside me. He rocked my head in his arms. That just made the pain worse, but I couldn’t tell him to keep still. I couldn’t speak. He was rocking me and scrambling in his pocket for his mobile phone. Dad had blood on his hands, my blood from the back of my head. I closed my good eye; the other one was already shut.
‘Stay with me Katie.’
And I remember being surprised that people really do say that.
‘Stay with me, sweetheart.’
People say that on Casualty when other people are dying. I thought that I was going to die.
And Mum was still silent.
I heard the ping of his phone.
‘Yes, ambulance, please… And maybe police. I don’t know.…My wife’s attacked my daughter, she’s hurt…and I’ve hurt my wife.’ Dad carried on talking but I couldn’t stay awake.
When I woke up I was in the ambulance. I had a thing on my thumb and a machine was beeping. I felt very sick. I heard sirens. There were two ambulance people and Dad was holding my hand. His face was all scratched up and his lip was bleeding. He was crying.
‘Mum?’ I said, but my voice was all croaky and I don’t know if they could understand me.
‘Shush, baby, don’t try to talk. We’ll be there in a minute.’
And now I’m lying in this bed and nobody will tell me anything. Dad’s talking to the police and I think my Mum and my baby brother are dead.