Song for the Unloved
- 2007 -
"Shhh, shhh, it's okay."
Tabitha's tiny little face was dark red. Her mouth was a cavernous black hole except for the pink tongue that was glued to the roof of her mouth as she screamed at the top of her lungs. I had tightly swaddled her but her strength, even at such a young age, was allowing her to break free. A tiny fist shot up into the sky. I held her tighter to my chest, my heart pounding. I knew if she didn't fall asleep soon that it wasn't going to be good.
Not good at all.
Cole was asleep in the next room, not that I knew how he could sleep through this. Of course, I sometimes thought he could sleep through a tornado and wake up oblivious.
The crook of my arm was beginning to sweat profusely, a combination of trying to hold her tight and the blanket rubbing back and forth against the skin. It had been so much different when Cole was born. Paul had been so a huge help, always at my side and offering to take those horrible middle-of-the-night feedings. My mom and his were daily visitors. But this time...this time was hell. I was alone in this. So alone. Except, I wasn't. He was home. The bang of the screen door announced him.
"JILLIAN! SHUT THAT KID UP!"
I rocked Tabitha faster, hoping that the motion might make her dizzy enough to quiet down. It was a horrible plan of action, but I was desperate.
She just screamed louder. His footsteps sounded like lead weights as he came down the hall. Resigned, I put the inconsolable infant in her crib.
"Did you hear me?" he snapped. "I said shut the kid up."
I turned. He stood in the doorway, his shoulders filling the width of the frame. His eyes were red and wild, the blood vessels completely broken. He took a step inside the nursery.
"NO!" I shouted, my maternal instinct at an all time high. I had seen what he had done with her the last time she had screamed. I would never risk her life like that again.
"Oh, we're going to play this game?" he growled. I gasped as he reached out and grabbed the front of my t-shirt, practically lifting me off the ground.
"Please," I begged. "Don't do this."
The begging made him happy. He smiled as he threw my body against the opposite wall. I hit it hard, the wind knocked out of me and fell on my ass, the thin carpeting not doing much to shield the blow.
"I'm getting sick and fucking tired of you and your piss-pants son and this," he thrust his large thumb over his shoulder. "You're the shittiest mother I've ever seen. Goddamnit, why didn't you have an abortion like I said? I'm SO TIRED OF THIS! SHUT UP!!!!!"
He grabbed at his hair and spun around. Tabitha's screams had risen to a level that seemed positively inhuman. I was sure her tiny body was going to crack in two. His upper body lunged down and I knew he was going to hit her. I threw my body across the floor and tackled his knees.
The moment he tumbled backwards, I knew I was dead.
"YOU WHORE!" he screamed. He grabbed a fistful of my hair and pinned me down with his body. His anger was palpable as he shook me roughly for just a few seconds before he slamming my head into the ground. The first blow took the rest of the air from my lungs. The second had me seeing stars. My arms flew in the air helplessly, unable to get a grip on him to even stop.
The third blow felt like my skull had cracked in two. My mouth opened, but I couldn't even hear my own screams.
It was then that I left my body. I was just a spectator in the whole scene. I was screaming, but the rest of me was jelly. As he pulled me by my hair down the hall, my legs only bounced along weakly. Even as he threw open the drawer in the kitchen that held the cutlery, my body wouldn't fight. I had spent my whole pregnancy fighting, predicting the life growing in my belly at all costs, hiding the bruises from the world. I was tired of the fight. I couldn't do it anymore. My eyes were deadened even as the sharp knife caught the kitchen light before he sent it sailing down. My ears began to lose sense of all sounds.
The last thing I thought I heard was a siren. I was cold, so cold. How could it be that I was sweating just minutes ago. Was it just minutes ago?
"It's okay mommy. It's okay mommy. Wake up, please."
Cole! I felt his hand on my cheek. It felt like fire. I was looking down at me, bloodied and shivering. He was curling himself up next to me. Were those his tears that I felt? Was I still feeling?
"Mommy, I love you. I'll hold your hand. Mommy?"
Exhaustion rained down on me. I hadn't slept in days. I just needed to close my eyes. The edges of the room were darkening anyway. Just sleep...
"Help my mommy. Are you going to help her? Gregg hurt her. I hate him. He ran away. Make him stay away, okay?"
- 2012 -
"No, please, God," I gasped. I was sitting up in bed, surrounded by darkness. My sheets were soaked in sweat. Tears streamed down my cheeks.
It was just a nightmare this time. It had happened years ago. We were safe. Weren't we?
I swung myself out of bed, padding down the hallway quickly. The first thing I did was open Cole's door. He had kicked off the covers. His flashlight was still on, but he was fast asleep. He must have continued reading Prisoner of Azkaban after I had tucked him in. I went in, turned off the light and slowly slid the book from his embrace. I kissed his forehead and took solace in the small smile that fell across his lips.
He was okay. My hero was okay.
Still unable to shake the fear, I headed across the hall. Tibby was sleeping with her upper torso completely off the bed, pointing towards the ground. Her mouth was hanging open; she was snoring quietly. I slowly slid her whole body back on the bed and kissed her cheek. It was only after I watched her breathe that my knees gave out. I sank down beside her bed and clasped my hands together in prayer, thanking God for keeping me on Earth to take care of both of my kids.
I had screwed up love too many times. Cole and Tibby were my life.
Nothing and nobody else was going to be allowed in.