Quiet, can’t let him know I’m here. Yet I’m curious. Like an itch that must be scratched, I pull back the blanket that conceals my presence under my single bed. I can see thousands of tiny dust particles threw the light that shines through the crack, floating and undisturbed by my escalating heart rate. I peer around my bedroom that I have inhabited since I moved here five years ago with my Mother.
Things have changed so much since then.
I see my discarded clothing on the floor from yesterday; I see my tenth grade math textbook and long forgotten homework stack in the corner. I can make out the bottom of my black dresser and bookcase, stuffed full of the only footprints I have left so far in the world.
And now I can see the door swinging open and crashing into the wall, shaking the one story house on the back roads of Fredericton. I quickly let go of the blanket as my stepfather’s boots come into sight.
But I am not, and was never, fast enough.
` “You think you can hide from me you little bitch!” He roars as his footsteps come towards the bed. I shrink against the wall and squeeze my eyes shut, praying to dissolve into dust.
The bed lifts and is heaved aside, exposing me to the evening light that shines through the window, and my stepfather’s red face. His tongue is spitting cusses at me as he grabs me by the hair and yanks me to my feet, I cry out in pain as my scalp burns in protest to his cruelty. I can smell the booze on him as he shoves me forward and I stumble out the bedroom door and into the kitchen, where the dirty dishes I was supposed to do are piled at the sink.
I feel like I’m underwater, his raging voice far away as he beats me. I used to absorb and hear every hurtful word and slap when I was younger, but now I block out his biting words and bruising fists.
It’s how I survive.