That scent… Heavy cigarette smoke. Indistinct chatter. My birth name is used. Fuck, that’s rude… I cannot be called that. I just… I cant. Gotta wake up. Still sleep… That awful morning breath. My breath. That sickening taste.
It feels of warm rubber and tastes of filth, sweat and congealed urine. I’m knocked to my knees by a kick to the stomach. He waves his massive reddened and veiny erection while walking toward me. “You know I’ll kill them all! Put it in your fucking mouth, Naomi!!!”
“NO! Please! I cannn’t!” Another kick to the stomach, this time the solar plexus, opens my mouth and leaves me desperately gasping. He always hits my body. Parents and teachers only notice when something is wrong with my face or arms; if they notice anything about me at all when I’m not screwing up. With the force of a vice grip he clenches his fingers and thumb to the back of my small jawbone and chokes my larynx from the sides. Then it begins. It’s in my mouth, down my throat with the force of a pile driver. My uncle’s fists clench scruffs of my hair for leverage as he tries to fuck my skull open from the inside. Uncle Stannie used to be the fun Uncle. But then I turned 7. Now I’m 10…
I venture inward. I have to. I can’t stand my own screams. I have to put my tears and snot and will aside or I’ll go insane. His enormous feet are on my hands so I’m unable to fight. I can’t tolerate my own crying and begging after I finally force myself away from him. But he seems to love these moments; when I get away and he has to beat me more and fuck me harder as punishment. Or when he reminds me that it’s either me or my younger brothers and sisters. I have to protect them. I’m the eldest. More crying and suffocation and gagging and choking forces me more and more inward. I can’t stand the outer me. I’m so helpless. Why can’t I be strong!
“Can I please just die now?” I inwardly beg a nonexistent God.
My own whimpering voice always answers me.
“I can’t die. Who will stop him from getting my brothers and sisters if I die?”
“Mom and dad”
“He’ll kill them, too! I know he will! He’s crazy! It’s only me!”
The thrusting in my throat has reached a fever pitch. I never knew humans were capable of this kind of speed and force in body motion. I can taste my own blood mixed with my snot and tears and his filthy, salty, coppery, penis. He may actually succeed in cracking my skull from the inside this time. I hope he does. Then I can finally die. How would he explain that to the police?
“YOU LIKE THAT, NAOMI!!!??? YOU LIKE THAT SHIT, YOU FUCKING BITCH!!!??? ANSWER ME, YOU LITTLE BITCH!!!”
He pulls out of my throat long enough for me to gasp and involuntarily sprawl away and plead. I’m on my side using my right arm as a paddle to inch my way to the door. “Please…”
“I KNEW YOU’D BEG FOR IT, YOU FUCKING DIRTY CUNT!!!!!”
He drags me by my now kicking and flailing leg. My fighting is involuntary at this point. I’m mentally inside myself. I’m aware of the many kicks and punches to my back and stomach. I’m conscious of the fact that he’s finishing himself off in my throat no matter how hard I fight and cry, and despite the fact that I’ve vomited all over his shaft twice now. I’m aware of the taste of my own watery puke mixed with his semen and aware that he’s smearing it all over my face and scooping the vile mixture with his hand from the floor into my mouth; but I’m not there anymore. Why would I choose to be there? 180 pound meth smoking man vs 76 pound child. Why do I even fight?
He quickly and gently strips this lifeless shell of my clothes and playfully tosses me in an empty tub with a, “Whoopsy daisy!” The cold water he inflicts upon my husk brings me back into focus. He non-chalaantly washes his hands in the warming water. I lay there prone and spiritless as he goes back and forth to clean his mess.
“Now you were a good girl, Naomi. Your mommy and grandma should be back from the store any minute. You want them dead or alive? Your choice. Happy day or sad day?”
I know the drill. I inch forward with trembling arms to cool off the shower since it had gotten hot so quickly. He violently snaps his fingers in my face.
“NAOMI! Answer me!”
I’m exhausted with life and want death but I have to protect them.
“I won’t tell, uncle Stan…”
His whimsical eyes brighten, he hugs my exposed and wet corpse,
“It’s Stannie! You always call me Uncle Stannie. We’ll go for ice-cream later since you’re such a good girl. Okaaaay, Naomi? And just remember. It’s all just play unless you tell someone. Then I wont be playing anymore. Understand?”
I nod knowing he’ll leave me alone if I do. I’m also aware that we will never get ice cream. He always lies. He happily hops down the stairs. I hope he falls and dies. In the shower I brush my teeth until my gums and tongue bleed. I use baking soda I’ve hidden in here to scrub the roof of my mouth till I’m gagging again. Then I use toothpaste. Why am I so weak? I’m silently bawling in the shower, beating the sides of my head with my balled fists. At least he didn’t get my butt like he did last time. I’m still not right from it. I can’t let him hear me and I can’t be crying when mom and Grandma get home from the store.
We’re having company tonight and Grandma needed some things as well. That’s how I ended up here. My younger brothers and sisters are playing outside in the apartment complex’s playground. I guess uncle Stannie is bringing them in while I’m putting on his “happy little girl” facade. He had his friends watch my siblings while I helped him with “chores.”
*later that day*
The rest of the day blurs by. “NAOMI!!!”
“Can you stop daydreaming and help?”
“You know how your daddy is. You better be on your best behavior when his friends are here.”
By “friends” do you mean your guys’ drinking and drug buddies? “I know, mom” I hope they blow their pot in my face again. At least I forget everything and get to smile and laugh when that happens. “Here’s the plates.”
“Now after you’re done setting them, go get the bowls and put them on top. Then get the silverware.”
“Mommy, do you ever think about going somewhere else? Like moving us away?”
“Ya, cuz we have so much money. Stop being stupid and finish your job. Then go get ready. And STOP LOOKING SO SAD ALL THE TIME!?”
“Sorry, mommy. It’s just my face. I’m trying to fix it.”
“Well try harder. You always look like somebody died.”
I die protecting you, dad and my brothers and sisters every time your brother, Uncle Stannie, calls my name when you leave me with him. I hate him and I hate you and daddy for not protecting me from him. Why do I gotta protect you?… “I’ll try harder, mommy.”
*that evening during dinner*
The room is pitch black. I’m sitting on the bed awaiting my punishment. I’m not allowed to turn on the light. Why did I have to throw up? Oh ya, cuz the creamy shrimp and brussel’s sprouts reminded me of the evil awfulness Uncle Stannie put me through a few hours ago. Dad walks in, leaves the light off and lights a cigarette. I hear the clink of ice against glass as he sets his drink on the floor. Bacardi and Coke by the smell. I feel him sit on the bed opposite me. The pretty red and orangish ember of his cigarette seems to float to the left. Then backward. It brightens as he inhales to reveal a red silhouette against skin that caricatures daddy as the devil; flaming eyes, mustache and all.
The ember brightens with his second drag, then floats left again leaving orange tracer lines in it’s wake. He is speaking in forced whispers since guests are still there. I know what I’m supposed to do and that is remain silent so as not to embarrass my family with my crying we he quietly beats me senseless.
“You can see me by my cigarette. Right, Naaaaaomi? What a fucking name. Naaaaaomi“ I don’t want to be that name anymore. “ANSWER ME, Naomi!”
“Yes, daddy. I’mb-sorry” I whimper between sobs. I know what’s coming. He’s not like Uncle Stannie. He doesn’t do that. But he’ll still hurt me. He’s getting more clever. Scarier. I can’t see where the slaps and punches are coming from. All I can see is the cigarette ember. All I can hear is how he works hard to put food on the table and how embarrassed he is to have such an ungrateful little bitch for a daughter.
“Are you listening to me little girl!?” SLAP!
Maybe I should tell! maybe I should let uncle Stannie kill you all. Then he can get killed by the police!
“Yes, Daddy. I’m sorry! Please. I’m sorry…”
I can’t. I have to protect them. The kids might get hurt.
“You think I just got money for your stupid ass to waste?” SLAM! He doesn’t care about hitting me in the face since it’s Friday. The marks will heal before I go to school Monday.
I know, but I can’t do this anymore.
“I’m sorry, daddy”
More tears than I can tolerate come from my eyes. It’s not the daily beatings that destroy me. It’s the fact that someone I love so much can so easily do this. The slaps and punches don’t hurt so much as his other antics. Like when we accidentally wore matching sweaters. I was so happy when I said, “Daddy, we match!” and so defeated when he immediately went into his room and changed shirts.
I slept under the bed after 4 cigarettes, three Bacardi and cokes and more insults, slaps and punches I could care to count. I was dizzy from the tracers the floating embers made in the dark. I fell asleep to the distant sounds of laughter from my brothers, sisters, mother, father and family friends…
I had a vivid dream that a demon named Milton was going to take the soul of a baby. I safely threw the baby out of his reach. He drug me away instead. I fought him and got away. Falling falling falling forever, but I’d beaten him. I landed on the bed and instantly awoke to the sound of Uncle Stannie laughing. “Wake up, Naomi! How’d you end up under the bed, sleepy head!”
Mommy and daddy were there laughing as well. I have to protect them…
*coming back to the present*
WAKE UP!!!! That fucking smell. Heavy cigarette smoke combined with gruff voices and distant chatter that included my birth name. Naomi. I don’t get called that name except by people who don’t respect me. In this case, the in-laws I have to stay with. Decent enough people. They took us in during hard times, but so much here triggers memories of so much back then. Decades past. So many similarities/distinct differences. I still cannot do anything right.
I was powerful for a moment in my thirties but that moment is lost. Powerless again. But I endure it for my children. They will never meet Uncle Stannie. They will never meet my parents if I have a say in the matter. I’ll endure what I must to protect my babies as my parents did not protect theirs. Even if it means mentally re-living thousands of days like the memory of the one triggered today. I’ll endure.
Those who love me may call me “Warrior.”
Those who hate me will call me Naomi.