I’ll never forget the way that the sliding glass door sounded as it dropped from the wall and shattered on the back patio. It didn’t fall as quickly as I would’ve thought, like it, too, was shocked to see the ground suddenly so close. It was like a stone falling in a pond: thick and heavy and slower than you’d imagine.
I was standing in the entrance to the house, and my mother was more towards our back door, closer to Jack. I don’t even remember where Allison and Alex were, it happened so fast. Why does memory work that way? Crystal clear in some moments, and then blurred until another slow motion segment?
I saw Jack round on my mother, coming across the kitchen now. He’d slammed the sliding door out of the frame and walked past it, coming around the house and in through the kitchen. He walked leaning forward, shirt dampened by bourbon and belly hard, about to become a battering ram. My mother backed into the wall, and I remember feeling no sympathy at all. I feel guilty now, but then, I had so little understanding and so much anger.
I remember Allison and Alex in my room, and my hand gets dirty from pushing the screen out of my window. My mother’s roses get pushed aside harshly as the kids go out before me. We run to the neighbors house. They have dinner guests. We sit in the living room where Sal explains The Truman Show to Alex and Allison, and I call the police. It was the first time I’d called the police. I remember how annoyed the neighbors seemed. I wondered if Jack’s kids from his previous marriage had done this with them before. I wondered what dinner conversation could be more important than my mother being beaten down the street.
The police came, and my mother laughed with them. She stood in the kitchen and explained that he was out back, if they wanted to talk to him. He was unreasonable, she said, laughing. Laughing. I didn’t see it then for what it was; a practiced hand from a woman fearing for survival. I couldn’t believe she’d allowed it. After Jim, she brought this upon us. Then I’d think, at least she sticks it out. At least she’s strong enough to endure. I can’t last anything. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here, right? It was, and will always be, my fault. My fault that Mom did what she did, my fault that the kids weren’t handled better, my fault that I couldn’t convince Jim to let me have the child support money back when I saw him in 1998.