Blockston, Pt. 5

window

Be sure to read part one, two, three, and four.

 

Mia felt as if she were spinning round and round, faster and faster, the walls seemingly closing in on her. Her breathing came shallow, and she was sure she would suffocate in the black ocean of these awful memories.

All this time… All the strange psychological issues she’s faced in life… All her anger… All the fear, her mistrust… Why she wanted to cry and run at the sight of a baby… It all made sense now.

It wasn’t that she was given to insanity. It wasn’t that she was afraid of commitment, as her boyfriend accused. It wasn’t that she hated kids.

It was that she had been scarred, traumatized. That, in an effort to protect herself, her mind had shut out these memories. But even without the memories, her subconscious still felt them, preventing her from trusting and loving… preventing her from living free from the memories’ chains.

A lone tear trickled down Mia’s cheek and hit her knee with a tiny splash.  She took a deep breath, trying to stop more from coming, but it didn’t work. Like a broken dam, the deluge poured forth.

No longer possessing strength to remain upright, she let herself slide down onto her side. She hugged her knees tighter and sobbed so hard it felt as if her heart would burst. Why? How could anyone be so awful to innocent children? Why am I so damaged by something that happened so long ago?

“I just want it to not be part of me anymore,” she pleaded through her sobs. “Just make it go away, God! Please!”

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Mia?”

She opened her eyes. “Mrs. Stapleton? How did…? I didn’t hear you….”

Gayle took Mia’s hand and pulled her up into her arms, holding her as she would a five year old child. She stroked her hair and planted a kiss on her top of her head.

“He… he…” Mia tried to speak between her sobs. “He hurt… me…. He would come… into my room… and do things.”

Tears silently streaked down Gayle’s face and onto Mia’s head.

“He yelled…. He hit us…. He shook her… hard… too hard… He killed her, Mrs. Stapleton… He killed my baby sister.” There were no tears left now. Only dry sobs and anger.

“I’m so sorry, Mia.” Gayle pushed Mia upright and looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry, Mia, that I did not do more sooner. I wanted to help your mother. And I wanted to keep you and your brother safe.”

Mia leaned her back against the wall and stared out the dingy window. “What happened that night?” she whispered.

Gayle scooted over next to Mia. “Once your mother realized the baby was dead, she left the hospital before anyone could ask questions. She came back to my house. She was scared and didn’t know what to do. We called your grandma to come and get you two kids. Another neighbor stayed with you while you waited for your grandma to come. I went back to the hospital with your mother. We told them everything.”

Mia frowned. “I think I remember that we stayed all summer on my grandma’s farm.”

Gayle nodded. “Yes. You did. That was a very long summer for your mother. She pressed charges against your father and filed for divorce. Your father went to prison. She looked hard for a job and a place to call home, so she could be with you two. She stayed in contact with me for a few years, and then we lost touch.”

Gayle grabbed Mia’s hand. “Honey, what you went through with your father was terrible. I don’t know what you’ve gone through since then. But I want you to know that those terrible things do not have to define you or control you. Now that you know what happened, you have to power to let it go. To let it make you stronger. You have the power to live beyond these memories.”

Mia looked down at her hand in Gayle’s.

Gayle smiled. “Come on. Let’s go to my house and get something to drink.”

____________________________

“Well, what did you find?” Mia’s boss asked when she came in to work the next Monday.

Mia thought about the week she spent with Gayle. “I learned that until you face the memories, you can never live beyond them.”

 

Blockston, Pt. 1

Blockston, Pt. 2

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 4

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

Blockston, Pt. 4

babyBe sure to read part one, two, three, and five.

 

Mia slowly closed the big, paint peeled door behind her and let her eyes adjust to the dark. Large wooden stairs rose in the dark shadows to her left, beckoning her upward to the sunlight pouring in from a dusty window. She placed her hand on the curved end of the banister and immediately flashed back.

______________________________

Three year old Mia slowly and carefully climbed onto the rail at the top of the stairs. Her brother stood on the step next o her. “There ya go, Mia. Now put your foot up.”

“I ‘fraid, Mack.” Mia whimpered.

“It’s ok!” he assured. “It’s fun!”

Mia managed to get her leg over the rail and now lay across the rail like a napping cougar in the jungle trees. She held the rail tightly and began to whimper again. “I fraaaaaid!”

Mack put his hand on top of hers and began to pry her fingers loose.

“Noooooooo! I ‘fraid!” Mia screamed.

Mack smiled and reassured her. “It’s fun. Let go and slide.”

Mia slowly loosened her grip and began to slide. It was kinda fun. She loosened her grip even more. Faster. Faster. “Weeeeeeeeeeee!”

But Mack had not told her what to do when she got to the end. She found herself flying off the end of the banister railing. Down she fell, hitting her head with a loud thud on the wall behind her. Everything went black.

As the blackness began to clear, she heard Mack crying and loud footsteps coming. The hall door flew open and their father stomped in. “What are you kids doing?!” he yelled. He grabbed her arm tightly. “Get up,” he yelled even louder, as he yanked her up off the floor. “Get down here, Mack!”

Mia could not stand. She felt dizzy and weak. Her father jerked her up again. “Stand up, Mia!” The yelling pierced her ears like sharp knives.

Mack made his way down the stairs and stood in front of their father. “What were you doing?!!”

“Mia slid down the banister,” Mack barely whispered.

Mia felt her father fiercely spank her over and over again with his hand. Her head spun, the voices echoed, and all went black again.

______________________________

Mia shivered and quickly moved up the stairs. “He always did get away with anything while I took the punishment,” she mumbled.

She walked down the hall and entered the first room on the right. This had been Mack’s room. She could visualize it as it had been 20 years ago. An old, rickety bed had stood in the corner, the sheet and blanket all rolled up into a ball. Stuffed animals, dirty laundry, and broken crayons had been strewn all over the floor.

There was no sign of these things now. Only a thick layer of dust on the hard wood floor and fuzzy dust bunnies in the corner.

She stepped across the hall and into another room. This one was larger with a gabled addition to the side of the room. This had been her room. Her bed had been in the little gabled nook, and her baby dolls, doll cradle, and little kitchen set had been in the larger part of the room. It would have been any little girl’s retreat, except for one thing. Something about the room made her stomach churn and she felt another memory coming on.

______________________________

Five year old Mia lay in her bed, holding her teddy bear close to her chest. Something had woken her. Her heart thumped loudly as she stared into the darkness and listened hard. Stairs creaking. Footsteps down the hall. Doorknob turning. She knew what was coming, and she wanted to hide. She pulled the covers over her head.

“Mia,” her father whispered as he gingerly pulled the sheets off her head. He silently stroked her hair and caressed her cheek.

Mia remained stiff. Maybe if she pretended to be asleep he would leave. But it didn’t work. His hands moved down to her chest, stomach, and legs. A lone tear ran down her cheek. She hated these nights.

______________________________

Mia’s heart pounded in her ears and her breathing came fast. She felt cold and clammy and sick to her stomach. She turned quickly and ran out of the room.

There was only one room left. Mia slowly pushed the door open. It squeaked on its hinges. What had this room been? She let her eyes slowly move around the room as if she were looking for a clue… something to spark a memory.

Her eyes reached the last corner, and she heard a cry… a baby’s cry. A crib came into focus.

______________________________

Young Mia lay in her bed listening to her baby sister’s cries. She wished she could help her. She sounded so sad and so mad. She heard her mother’s steps coming up the stairs.

“Shhhh,” she heard her whisper. “It’s ok, sweet baby girl. Mommy’s here.”

Mia listened to her mother’s humming. It was beautiful and calming, and she dozed off to sleep again.

She soon woke up with a start. Her baby sister was crying again. Her mother tried to calm her, but she would not quiet. Mia heard her father’s footsteps coming up the stairs and down the hallway.

“Can’t you make her shut up?!” he hissed.

“I’m trying,” her mother answered.

Mia tiptoed to her door and peered around the corner.

“Give her to me!” he hissed again. Her baby sister cried louder as her father snatched her from her mother. He shook the baby and yelled in her face, “SHUT UP!”

“Stop!” her mother insisted. “Stop right now!”

Her father tossed her baby sister into the crib. She let out a wild scream and then lay still and silent.

“Get out of here! Leave! RIGHT NOW!” her mother yelled, as she ran to the side of the crib.

Her father turned to leave the room, and Mia quickly pulled her head in and hid behind the door. She stayed there until she heard her father slam the front door. He was leaving.

Mia tiptoed to the baby’s room. “Mommy?”

Tears streamed down her mother’s cheeks as she held her baby close. “You’re gonna be alright, Sweet Dear,” she whispered. “You’re gonna be alright.”

“Get your brother, Mia,” her mother demanded sternly. “You’re going to stay with Mrs. Stapleton tonight.”

______________________________

It all came back. The trek across the alley to Mrs. Stapleton’s in the darkness of the night. Her mother leaving in a hurry to the hospital. Being put to bed on a blanket in Mrs. Stapleton’s living room. Lying awake all night. Her mother coming back in the morning without her baby sister.

“He killed her,” she whispered in realization, as she slid down the wall and pulled her knees up to her chin. “He killed her!”

 

Blockston, Pt. 1

Blockston, Pt. 2

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 5

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

Blockston, Pt, 3

house

Be sure to catch part one and part two of Blockston.

 

Mia sat in her car outside of the tiny diner, staring at the napkin in her hand. Gayle had scribbled out a simple map to the now empty house where she had lived with her parents and brother 20 years ago. Drive down to the blinking caution light, turn left. Drive two blocks to Partridge Street and take a right. The two story white house would be the second house on the right.

Why is my stomach in knots? She wondered. It’s just an old house. She sighed, tossed the napkin onto the passenger’s seat, and shoved her keys into the ignition.

The blinking light. A left turn. Two blocks. A right. And there it was in all its old and decaying glory. She pulled slowly into the long drive and stopped just to the right of the front porch. From this corner, the house appeared to be a large white cube with a green cap on top. The paint was peeling, the foundation was moldy, and a few of the windows were cracked.

She stepped out of the car and continued down the drive on foot, stopping to peer in the side windows. Through the first window, she saw only an empty, dusty room with a hard wood floor. The next window was too tall for her to reach. Probably the bathroom, she thought. The last window on the side of the house was also too high, but if she stood back a ways, she could see kitchen cupboards.

She rounded the corner of the house to find a closed in back porch with windows all the way around it. Inside was an old rusty washing machine and dryer. For a split second, Mia could smell laundry soap and hear water running into the washing machine. She heard her mother’s voice. “Dump it in, Mia, so the clothes can take a bath.” She saw a bruise on her mother’s outstrenched arm.

Mia stepped away from the window and continued around the closed in porch to the other side of the house. This side was not the straight up cube the other side had been. A utility closet occupied the corner where the closed in porch ended. The house then jutted out about eight feet past the utility closet.

This jutted chunk of house was the living room and included another jutted out section about 3×5 feet. Tall windows surrounded this section on the lower story. The upper story was a cute gable with a lone window.

Past the living room’s jutted section was another jut out with weirdly spaced high windows. Must be where the stairs are, she mused.

She rounded the corner and walked around the front porch. The porch had been majestic in its day. Victorian spindles lined the edge of the old, moldy porch roof, some of them broken. Paint was peeling from the white posts and the once gray steps and floor.

She carefully climbed the creaky steps and placed her hand on the door handle of the wooden screen door. Immediately, her mind went back and once again she was watching her younger self.

Young Mia stood trembling, peering out the screen door. Her daddy stood in the front yard in front of two police officers. His fists were clenched and his shoulders heaved with every quick, deep breath.

“Sir. Is everything ok?” One officer asked. “Your wife called. She was concerned for the safety of herself and your children.”

“Everything is perfectly fine,” her dad practically yelled.

“Sir. I’m going to need you to calm down,” the other officer commanded.

“I don’t need to calm down!” By this time Mia’s father was shaking with anger.

One of the officers laid his hand on his shoulder and implored, “Sir. If you don’t calm down, you will need to come with us.”

Mia’s father completely lost it at that point. He lifted his tight fist and punched the officer right in the nose. The other officer immediately shoved Mia’s father to the ground and handcuffed him.

Young Mia felt her mother’s shakey hand on her arm. “Come on, Mia. Come away from the door.”

The memory disappeared just as fast as it had come, as if it were sucked away in a vacuum. Mia pulled the screen door open and tried the door knob of the old wooden door. It turned.

Mia hesitated. Dare she enter? What if the memories hiding in the dark inner corners of this house were even worse than the ones she’d already encountered? What if they swallowed her up and she disappeared into that creepy vacuum right along with all the horrific memories?

 

Blockston, Pt. 1

Blockston, Pt. 2

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 4

Blockston, Pt. 5

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

The Art of Forgiveness

tears

If forgiveness is so freeing… if it is so vital to being completely ourselves… then what is it and how do we forgive? How do we get past the hurt and embrace the freedom?

What forgiveness is not:

  • Forgiveness does not free the offender from the consequences of his actions.
  • Forgiveness is not accepting abuse as a necessary element of life.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetting what’s been done to us.
  • Forgiveness is not a mumbled response to an apology.

What forgiveness is:

  • Forgiveness finds fulfillment in moving on rather than in revenge.
  • Forgiveness reports abuse and seeks to end it.
  • Forgiveness finds a way to rise above the offense, without bottling it up.
  • Forgiveness is a choice to plant a seed of love, inspiration, and motivation in the heart.

Forgiveness is more of an internal choice than an outward action. It’s deciding that you will not let anger and vengeance manipulate your thoughts and actions. This decision may take hours, days, months, maybe even years to make, but the sooner you make it, the better off you are. You may need to make the decision to forgive over and over again as you encounter things that trigger the old feelings of pain and betrayal, but you will find that each time you do, it’s a little easier than the last.

Forgiveness is only possible if you allow the hurt and the pain to surface. You cannot forgive something that you refuse to acknowledge. It’s this face to face with our deepest hurts that makes forgiveness one of the hardest thing to do.

Tears may flow. More tears than you ever dreamed possible. You may feel the heat of anger welling up in your chest. “I forgive them” may be the last words you want to utter. But until you do, you will never be free.

Blockston, Pt. 2

diner

Be sure to catch part one of Blockston.

Mia watched the utility poles speed past her car windows. Suddenly, she saw herself as a child not yet tall enough to see anything out of the Station Wagon window other than lonely sky. She felt the wagon turn and then the poles started whizzing past against the blueness, and she knew they were almost home.

Dread washed over her, and she felt sick to her stomach. She wanted to tell her grandma that she didn’t want to go home… that she was scared. She wanted Grandma to turn around and take her far away, but she couldn’t. Her three year old vocabulary was no match for such strong emotion.

Mia blinked several times to clear the memory from her mind, but the blinking trick could not work its magic on her nausea. She slowed to a complete stop before turning onto the dirt road leading into town. It steeped sharply up to a railroad crossing, then back down again before thrusting its way into the center of Blockston. The red and white guardrails stood tall like two of the Queen’s castle guards, daring her to enter.

With a sigh, she turned the wheel. There was really no going back now. I already woke the sleeping giant, she thought. It’s best to face it head on.

The little Chevy fought with gravity to make it up the steep incline, rattled across the tracks, and then dove back down the steep bank and in to town.

“Good job!” she praised and gave her dashboard a couple of pats. “Now where to, Old Friend?”

Main Street was pretty much empty except for a cluster of three pickup trucks sitting in front of a small diner. Must be the place to hang out, she thought. She pulled up next to the rusty red one, turned off the engine, and pulled the keys from the ignition. Her hands were shaking. She wanted so badly to confront the nagging, elusive memories, and yet she was terrified. What would she find out?

She slowly got out of the car and walked the four feet to the diner door. All five people inside looked up to stare as the bell above the door announced her presence. She smiled and took a seat at the counter, hoping they would ignore her.

They did not. Apparently, she was the most exciting thing in town since the circus came through 100 years ago.

“What can I gicha, Sweets?” Mia looked at the old lady in front of her… short gray curly hair, red and white checkered apron over her plump chest, eyeglasses pushed up onto her head. She wondered how many years it had been since lipstick had touched those wind chapped lips.

“Oh. Uh. Do you have a menu?”

The lady’s gray curls bobbled as she shook her head. “Sorry, Sweets. We ain’t got menus here. Everybody knows we have the best burgers in a hundred mile radius.”

Mia smirked in amusement. “I’ll have one of those ‘best burgers in a hundred mile radius’ then, please.”

As she waited for Ms. Gray Curls to make her burger, she studied the framed photos on the wall. There were photos of this same diner long ago, filled with happy, hungry people. There were photos of Blockston at its economic peak. Cars lined Main Street. Horses were tied to utility poles. Ladies in long coats and hats held the arms of men in starched suits.

“Gayle,” Ms. Gray Curls stated as she placed Mia’s order in front of her.

“Excuse me?”

“Name’s Gayle,” she repeated.

Mia smiled a genuine smile and held out her hand. “It’s so nice to meet you, Gayle.” She looked down at her plate. The thick, juicy hamburger filled a third of the large oval plate and every inch of leftover plate was piled high with fries.

“Well, what’s yours, Sweets?” Gayle prodded.

Mia squirted ketchup on what little plate she could find and wondered whether to give her real name or make something up.

“Mia,” she answered softly.

Gayle pulled her glasses down over her eyes and studied Mia’s face. “What brings you to Blockston, Sweets?”

“An elusive memory, actually. Probably nothing.” Mia picked up her burger and took a bite, hoping Gayle would just let her eat in peace for a while. She needed time to figure out what to say and what not to say.

But Gayle was hooked now. “Like a memory from long ago?”

“Yes,” Mia answered around the bite.

“How long ago?”

Mia held up one finger as she chewed and swallowed. “Long enough for it to be elusive,” Mia smirked.

But Gayle would not be held off by sarcasm. “Is your last name Markell?” she blurted.

“I. Uh. Well… Yes. Yes it is.”

Gayle slammed her fist onto the counter. “I KNEW IT!”

Mia jumped and stared at her in surprise.

A giddy smile danced across Gayle’s face. “Oh Sweets! You’ve grown so much! You’re so beautiful! I can’t believe how time flies!”

Mia frowned, waiting for Gayle to fill her in.

“Well, doncha remember? I’m Gayle. Mrs. Stapleton. Remember? You all lived across the alley form me. You and Mitchell used to help me plant my garden.”

Gayle’s beaming face turned somber, and she grabbed Mia’s hand. “I’ve thought about you and Mitchell a lot over the years. Wishing I could find you. Wishing I would have done a better job protecting you. How are you?”

Mia looked into Gayle’s eyes with confusion. She didn’t know whether to smile or cry. Stay and ask questions or run far away.

Gayle gave her hand a squeeze. “It’s ok, Sweets. You can trust me.”

 

Blockston, Pt. 1

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 4

Blockston, Pt. 5

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

The Young{est} Years

RanBren

Very little sticks in the memory of a young child, except those things with strong emotions attached. I am sure that I had a lot of  very happy moments in my first four years of life, but I don’t remember many. I’ve been sitting here off and on all day, trying to conjure up as many memories as possible.

I’m becoming increasingly intrigued with my child self. I feel that if I can just grasp those memories, those thought processings, I will find a glimpse of my untainted self, for young children are pure personality. There’s very little interaction with the outside world to shape their personality… it’s all just them.

Perhaps that’s why those first few years of a child’s life are the most pliable. The years to be most guarded. It’s important to nurture their personality and protect it from the traumatic experiences that can darken and twist the most secure and happy of personalities.

me1_3

As I flipped through an old photo album, I pulled out a few photos that sparked some memories.

Top-Left: That’s me on my first birthday. Don’t remember a single second of it. I just wanted to show you how adorable I was. haha. Actually, it reminds me of my youngest when she was that age.

Top-Right: That’s my mom playing peek-a-boo with me. This is how I want to remember her in all my young memories. Fun, happy. Unfortunately, I don’t. I remember a troubled mother, a sad mother, a confused and angry mother.

But this I do remember… I always loved her. And I still do. She’s my mom. She carried me for nine months, snuggled under her heart. I listened to it’s beating in wonder. It soothed me to sleep. I still hear that beating (figuratively speaking, obviously) and I want nothing more than to be able to bandage that heart and make it whole. I want her to know a joy so deep, she can’t swim away from it.

Bottom-Left: That’s me at the age of two. For some reason, my brother and I had masking tape on our shirts. Our names were written across the tape with a permanent marker. I had pulled mine off and tried to restick it. Any person above the age of 5 would know that was a mistake. The darned thing would not stay on. It was too much for me to bear. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t wearing my name, then I was no longer Brenda. And I so desperately wanted to be Brenda.

I know that’s a lot of memory for a two year old, but I think I only remember that from looking at the picture so often growing up. The first time I remember looking at it and remembering the story behind it was when I was four, but I also kinda remember that that wasn’t the first time I looked at it.

Anyway, I just thought it went pretty well with the theme of this blog. Here I was two years old and already crying over a label ripped from my chest.

Bottom-Right: That’s my older brother Randy and I sitting on the back of my grandma’s black leather couch. He was five and I was three. This is the year the bad memories start. The next couple years would be hard ones for me.

I remember that my dad did not live with us. He drove a truck and we would see him every once in a while. I remember something being wrong with my mommy. She was sad.

I remember that my mom put my brother and I in a children’s home. I don’t remember how we got there or what my mother told us about why we were going there. I just remember how scared I was. (I know now that she was living in halfway house to overcome her drinking – I think???)

I remember being scared of one of the ladies at the home. Her voice was gruff and she often gave abusive threats. I remember crying in bed and one of the older girls in the room told me to shut up. I told her I was scared, and she told me if I didn’t shut up, she’d give me something to be scared of.

I remember not seeing my brother very often except during outside play time. I remember sitting and watching other kids play. I couldn’t play with them because I was sick in my stomach. Something wasn’t right and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I remember an older boy taking my behind the sandbox and touching me inappropriately. I didn’t like it, but I felt powerless.

I remember the gruff lady coming to get me one day. She took me into a room. Randy was already in there. And so was my daddy. My hero had come.

He did not realize until that day that my mom had taken us there. He came to get us out.

He took us to see my mom at the halfway house. I remember standing on the doorstep when she opened the door. We went inside, and I looked around. To the right side of the front door was a long staircase that turned the corner as it climbed up the wall. The banister and railings were stained dark. In the corner, where the stairs turned up, stood a bird cage on a tall post. The metal circular foot of the post pushed down into the plush carpet. I think my mom cried.

Dad took us to his mother’s house that summer. My brother and I had a lot of fun the summer(s) we spent out there with our grandma and step grandpa. There were the swims in the stock tank with little piglets running around it in the mud. I was scared to get out  of the tank lest the piggies bite my toes. There were romps with the dog, Ranger. There were sunny days on the lake. Crickets in the long grass. Daddy long legs. Ice cream. Happy days.

But there was a dark shadow in those summer days. My step grandpa has a teen aged son who stayed with them for several weeks. He sometimes made me do things that were inappropriate. He sometimes made me hide behind the couch and he would do things to me that a three year old should never experience.

The whole situation was taken care of legally. I’ve forgiven him. But that doesn’t take away the memories. It doesn’t take away the sickness as I realize my little Faithy is three. To think of a little girl that young having her innocence stolen. It puts fear in my heart somedays. I want to grab my girls and hold them close. I want to keep them under my constant watch and care.

These were my youngest years. Most memories are flittery like a fly buzzing around the room. But these are the ones that rest long enough to see clearly.