Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Mom. She's bright and soft-hearted; easy going and good-humoured.
But father's cruelty is too much. Late at night, she bundles me into the car. We drive into the night. Brother is staying with friends, safe. We travel down the west coast and I stay quiet in the backseat for a week. But time passes strangely when you're four. I blink and we're in Los Angeles waiting for brother to arrive at the airport.
We live in a small apartment above grandfather's medical clinic. Summer smells like melting tar and the ocean. Ants invade if I leave food in the sink. Mom works in the clinic and gives me money for mini burgers at the Burger King. Sometimes, I see grandfather in his office. He's goofy but angry. Mom walks on eggshells. I stay quiet. Being small and a girl means it doesn't take much to blend into the background.
One day, father arrives. Oblivious to the hard decision mom made last week, I squeal with delight and run into his arms. He smells so familiar, I bury my head in his chest.
Mom told me this story in my early twenties. I remember it, though only in these tattered scraps. I asked why she hadn't divorced dad--she talked about our escape into the night, down the coast, into the jaws of a far worse monster. She chose to live with father...the tragic tale of a woman who did not believe she could make a life for her children on her own.
I can't help but see every woman in our family as a sacrifice made to the monster threatening to eat the village livestock. Each one thinks she will be the last. But their daughters watch. Learn. They follow mom into the waiting maw.
Until one of them finally says ENOUGH.