+The turquoise coat – Part three: Darker than night (dark side, book 2, chapter 35)

The Dark Side of Mildred’s Mountain series – Angel book 2 beginning with the POP!  Goes Alaska letters – chapter 35

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35.  The turquoise coat – Part three:  Darker than night

In Mildred’s November 13, 1957 letter she wrote of me 2½ months past my sixth birthday as she had forced me to wear such a coat as this was through long first grade days at school and on filthy bus rides in the mucky gray filth of a rainy Alaskan late fall as it moved into a still snowless winter:

Her beautiful turquoise jacket and white fur is filthy.  First day she ruined it, I washed it heartbroken (it’s a beauty and expensive) and made her wear old jacket for one week.  Then let her wear it again – same thing – and always blames other children!  I gave up.

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It was this day Mildred referred to when she took my coat away that she tore it off me as she attacked me when I walked in the log house door after school.  I was very small compared to her largeness and could not protect myself as she swung me around in circles by my arm so thin she could easily close her hand around it while she beat me with her wooden jelly making spoon in the kitchen.  As hard as she could.  With the spoon in her other hand.  The sounds of my wailing and of her screaming must have terrified my sisters (age 2 and 4) and my brother (age 7).

“Stand in the corner until your father gets home.  He’ll deal with you then!”  Shoved face into the wall beside the back door.  SLAM went the lid of the washing machine with my “washable” coat in it.  The water runs.

Standing still.  My forehead against the wall.  I did not mean to get my coat dirty.  I didn’t know how that happened.

Daddy came home from work.  He walked in the front door.  She screamed and shouted at him about what I had done.  “Take off your belt and give it to me.  I’ll show that girl of mine I mean business.”

I could not get away when she came at me.  Stomping fast across the kitchen floor.  She brought the metal kitchen stool with her and smashed it down on the laundry room floor in front of the drier screaming at me to pull my panties down.  “I’m going to give you want you deserve.  I will give you something you will remember.  Now bend over that stool right now!”

I wasn’t tall enough but I tried to hold onto it but I couldn’t.  Both of her hands holding onto the snaking arc of Daddy’s leather belt slashing against my back, my arms, my bottom, my legs.

Knocked down.  Dragged up.  Slammed against the edge of the doorway.  Both hands.  I tried to hold on. 

Into the kitchen.  Banged against the cold white edge of the stove.  Against the other side of the doorway and again into the back hall.  Beating.  Beating.

No scene such as this one was could ever be shown in any movie.  Never.  No thing should ever be done to a child that can’t be seen in the light of day by other people.  In view of strangers.

I crumpled.  She let go of me then.  All tired out from screaming and beating.  “Get up off the floor and sit on that stool.  Stay there and don’t get off of it.  I can’t stand the sight of you.  You’ll have no supper tonight!”

The stool must have been placed very near to the trapdoor John remembers in the back hall over the well.  I faced the drier but I could not reach out to touch it to keep from falling.  I had to do that part by myself.

So hard was the stool.  My bottom hurt very badly.  I dared not move.  Crying.  Breathing.  Gasping.  Crying.  As quietly as I possibly could so she wouldn’t hear me.

Mother’s voice changed.  She was cheerful as she made the sounds that went with making supper.  Pots and pans.  Metal cupboard doors open and close.  Dishes onto the table.  “Everyone come eat.  It’s time for supper.”

She didn’t mean me.

The food smelled so good.  I was so very hungry.  I heard them all talking together.  Eating their supper.  Then they were done.

Clearing off the table now.  She washes all the dishes.  She turns off the light as she walked away.  There is no light on where I am.  They are all in the living room.  They are all happy.  The television set is on.  Then it is off.  “Time to put your pajamas on.  Time for bed!”

The house grew quieter and quieter.  Daddy pulled open the couch into their bed in the living room.  The light went out everywhere.  No more distant murmuring.  Everyone asleep but me.

Not asleep.  So hungry.  So tired.  Dead dizzy tired.  In pain.  My stomach hurts, too.  I am getting colder.  I am weak and shaky.  Arms wrapped tight around my middle.  Feet hang down.  I dare not move.  I have to go to the bathroom.  I cannot.  I am scared.  I cannot move.

Alone in the darkness shivering.  I am a chill inside my skin.  Barely.  I rock myself forward and back.  Forward and back.

Coat.  In the washing machine.  She did not come to take it out.  She did not come get me.

I thought without thinking about everyone else eating supper in the dining room.  With their eating supper voices.  Sometimes they had laughed.   Rising.  Falling.  Happy voices eating smell-good supper.  Daddy’s smiling voice.  Mommy’s smiling voice.

Now they are all sleeping.  Sleeping.  All in their beds sleeping.  I am not sleeping.  I make no sound.  Tears.  Sliding down my cheeks.  Dripping.  Dripping down my neck.  Cold.

Long night.  Long silent night.  I am tired.  I am scared.  I am alone.  I am forgotten.

No lights anywhere.  Woods outside.  The refrigerator hums.  It stops.

So quiet.  So still.  So still.  Still.

There is nothing but me.  I am still waiting.

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