"It's really funny if you think about it." She starts, and I know where this is going, but I can't stop it. I've heard this speech thousands of times, I think, and when I hear those words I can't help the flutter in my heart. Maybe this time...a happy ending?
"Mom could never stand up for herself. Sure, with me she was calm and cool and very much collected. But when dad came home the stutter was there on the tip of her tongue, always fighting against the 'Yes, sir's' and the 'No, please d...d...don't hit me's'. I should have known the abuse would fall down on my shoulders one day. I was of course, my mother's daughter."
She shifts, but I try and hold on as tight as I can to her. She hates it when I try and hold her while she talks about this. She feels like she doesn't deserve me, I can see it in her eyes. What do I have to do to...She's talking again. I have to listen.
"The first time he hit me, it was because I was reading the bible while I should have been doing the dishes. I know, me reading the bible. It doesn't make much sense now, but I was a regular bible brat when I was a kid." She wants me to laugh. So I do. "Donnie was sitting around playing with his trucks or something. I was eight, so he must have been about ten. Maybe eleven. Mom was 'sick' again, and so dad made her stay in bed all day. We all knew she was sporting a pretty nasty black eye. We ignored it. "When I looked up from that book, teaching me about God and obey thy parents and all of that bull that I still can't quite stomach I nearly screamed. He grabbed me by the hair and dragged me into the kitchen babbling about girls reading and the devil's work and all I could think was 'hey, I'm reading God's book. Isn't that good?' "The abuse only got worse. Turned out Mom really was sick. Cancer. Lots and lots of cancer, actually. So I became the house punching bag. Big brother didn't take long to get in on it. I remember the time he threw me down the stairs. That was a hoot. Was in the hospital for nearly a month. Ah, the good old days."
I hate that she talks about it like that. I want to be able to be here for her, but I don't know how if she keeps talking about it like this. I just wish I could make it better. Maybe I should crack a joke.
"Well if I'd known you love pain so much I would have thrown you down the stairs myself." She flinches and I know I've said the wrong thing, but she doesn't leave my arms.
"Baby?" I ask softly.
"I'm tired." She mubmles, rolling over and pretending to fall asleep instantly. I know she's awake. So I wrap my arm around her waist, snuggle against her back, and kiss her cheek.
"I love you." She never returns the words. And she doesn't have to. I know how she feels. At least, I think I know.