“Sign these papers and get the hell out of here,” he yelled, throwing the divorce papers at her.
“You can’t do this to me! You can’t just leave me for another woman! For money!” she shouted at the top of her lungs.
“Don’t you dare raise your voice at me!” he warned and when she screamed at him again, he slapped her across the face, making her fall to the ground.
“Get out of my house,” he said. The tears running down her eyes had no effect on him.
She wiped the tears with the back of her hand. The slap had left a red mark on her cheeks. “I’ll leave,” she said, defeated. “I’ll take Caro and leave you. And your house. So you go live happily with your new woman and her enormous wealth”. The hatred in her eyes was imperceptible.
“Caro stays with me,” he declared. Kneeling on the floor, next to her, he said, “you think I don’t know you’ll run directly to the cops or your brother for help? I’m not an idiot. I can’t risk you spilling my secrets to them. Your daughter stays here.”
“No! Let me take her with me. Please, James” she begged, “I won’t be able to live without my daughter.”
“Then die!”’ he spat. Grabbing her arm, he started to pull her out of the house, “never show me your face again or I’ll make your daughter’s life a living hell.”
“Please, James. I won’t go to anyone. Don’t harm her. I won’t tell any-” with that he slammed the door shut on her face. He turned around and his eyes directly fell on me. With an angry sigh, he walked towards my room.
I stepped away from the door and ran to the farthest corner of the room. The voice of his footsteps gradually increased, making my hands shiver with fear. When his silhouette appeared through the slightly open door, I closed my eyes. “I’m sorry, Dad. I’m sorry.”
Fights between my mom and dad were not something surprisingly new. It happened regularly. Dad would come home drunk, get angry over the simplest of things and beat mom. Every day, before his arrival, mom would lock me in my bedroom to save me from his temper. I would be safe in my room, away from his anger, while my mom would suffer. All his curses. All the beating. The slaps. The things he would throw at her in anger. The hatred. Everything. She would never say a word in return, never retaliate to anything he said or did. Not until today.
Today, mom learnt he was cheating on her and decided to confront him for it. He came home demanding a divorce instead. I have never seen my mother get angry at anyone before. But today, she was furious. Their regular fights were like cans of gasoline poured over their marriage every single day and mom's anger was the only little spark that dad needed to finally burn it down.
She would always save me from him, never let me be at the receiving end of his anger that I was terrified of. But, what now? She was gone. Mom was gone. The thought of never seeing her again frightened me more.
“Please forgive me, dad. Please don’t hit me.” I don’t know what I was apologizing for but whatever it was, he did not seem to care.
Closing his right hand on my upper arm he pulled me to my feet, "go, get me some wine" he growled. “Quick,” he pushed me out of the room.
I dragged my feet towards the kitchen. Tears streamed down my face and I made no effort to stop them. What does that matter? Mom was gone and nothing else seemed important.
Taking the wine from the refrigerator, I poured it into a glass. My hands were shaking with fear leading some of the wine to spill.
“What’s taking you so long? Are you manufacturing the wine yourself?” came his angry voice from the living room.
I wiped the spill and picked up the glass in a hurry and went towards the fireplace, where he sat, smiling smugly to himself. He appeared to be incredibly proud of himself for what he did today.
Not wanting to go anywhere near him, I placed the glass on the small table instead of giving it in his hand. He took his first sip, then spat on the floor.
“Not this one, you useless girl!” he shouted in anger and threw the glass at me.
With pure reflex, I dodged the glass but lost my balance and fell hard on the ground. The broken pieces of the wine glass pierced the skin of my legs. Blood oozed out from the fresh cuts onto the carpet.
“Wonderful! Now you spoil my carpet. Clean all this before I return or be ready to face the consequences,” he threatened as he walked out of the door.
Fresh tears formed in my eyes but, it wasn’t because of the wounds on my legs. The cuts even though deep didn’t hurt. The wound on the heart was deeper. It was so painful that I felt numb.
Dad never loved me, I had known it all along. Yet, the coldness in his eyes every time he looked at me, pricked my heart.
I hoped mom was fine. He had never allowed her to socialize much. There were not many places she could go to. The only people she knew were either dad's friends or his business associates. And with the threat that he had given her, I knew she would not go to the cops or even Uncle William. Her returning was totally out of question, the security guards around the house would never let her get past them. Nor would they allow me to step out of the house without dad's permission. They never had.
Without much concern about the pain or the blood seeping out of the wounds, I picked the pieces of glass out of the flesh. There was a lingering headache around my temple and the tears just won't stop. Pulling my legs closer, I placed my head on my knees.
"Where are you, mom?" I asked the empty room. Closing my eyes, I thought of different ways to reach her. Considering dad’s influence it was going to be a challenge but I won’t give up without a fight. I can’t.
The next morning, I woke up to find myself still in the living room, on top of the carpet, surrounded by broken pieces of glass. He had told me to clean this mess!
I quickly got up despite my legs that protested in pain. Deciding to clean myself first, I headed to the bathroom. The blood has clotted around the wounds and it took several minutes of soaking my legs in warm water to finally get rid of them. Next, I cleaned the living room giving extra attention to my dad’s precious carpet.
After about an hour, when I was almost done with the cleaning, I heard the front door open. “Caroline! Caroline! Where the hell are you?” came dad’s voice from the porch. For some reason, he sounded really happy.
Did he bring her back? Of course, he did. Last night he was angry. That was only his anger and now he brought mom back. Wasting no time, I hobbled towards the front door, hoping to see mom back home.
I came to a halt when I saw a woman standing beside him who was not my mother. This woman standing in front of me, with a fake smile and evil glint in her eyes was definitely not my mother.
“Julia,” he said to the woman, “this is Caroline. I told you about her.” The look on his face at that instant was of sorry. He was apologising to her for my presence.
The woman named Julia smiled and came towards me. “Hello, Caroline. I’m sorry about what happened to your mom.” She did not look sorry at all. “I can be your new mom.”
I stared at her for a good 10 seconds waiting for her to laugh at her quite humourless joke. She did not laugh. Then I turned to dad. He didn’t laugh either. Instead, he was staring at me icily, “say ‘hi’ to her Caroline.”
“She is not my mom”, I told him, anger boosting me up.
“Not yet. But she will be. Very soon” he said, “say ‘hi’” he ordered.
I shook my head, “you sent mom away. You threw her out yesterday. You can't just-"
The words died in my mouth as his hand struck my left cheek. "Never speak to me in that tone!" He warned.
Turning to Julia, he sighed, "I'm sorry about her. Her mother never taught her any manners." He gave me a disgusted look before walking inside the house with his new woman.
I stared at their backs in disbelief. What on earth was going on? This was not real. He can't just walk in with another woman claiming to be my new mom. Just last night he sent mom away and he already has a new woman now? This can not be true.
Except, it was. I touched my cheek where he had slapped me. The skin was burning and it stung with the slightest of touch.
It was the first time he hit me. And the start of a horrible nightmare my life was about to become.