Due: September 26, 2006
By: J. Smith
I feel a rapid wind against my exposed skin. My neck sends the chills down my
back and to my forearms and shins. In an instant my eyes pop open. The cold in the air
has become unbearable. I am wide awake. I roll unto my stomach and push myself up off
the ground. I look around; observe my surroundings. The light of day slowly fades behind
the purple hills that stand tall far in the distance. Did I fall asleep on the concrete?
I search my memory. Yet, I have no recollection of how I came to be on this
overpass looking down upon herds of motorized cattle. I look down the street behind me,
the street that arches above the busy highway.
I look to the left, nothing.
I look to the right, nothing.
All the cars must be on the freeway because this street, this arching road, is
empty. I am alone on an empty street. To walk is my first instinct but my fear gets the
best of me; the fear of being even more alone. At least here, in this spot, I have the hum
of the traffic below me. I turn toward the sidewalk, and walk up to the wiry metal fence
that is blocking me from the hundred-foot drop to the highway pavement. I press my face
against the fence and look down upon the constant flowing traffic. “Huh,” blurts my
conscience, “What is that?”
There is a woman standing in the middle of the highway. Her eyes, her face are all
wet, dripping with tears. Her head jerks from side to side as if she is seeking for an
escape. She is like a helpless child lost in a busy crowd. The frown of her face’s
expression says fear. The murky hollow of her eyes tells me hopeless. I know those eyes.
“Mommy!” the word erupts from my chest like lava from an active volcano.
My now weakened voice whispers, “Mommy, I see you. I am here.”
She can hear me, I know it. Still, my mother stands in stone; paralyzed by fear.
She has been abandoned. Viciously I begin to claw my way up and over the chain-linked
fence. “I will not leave without you mommy.”
My feet push me off the top bar, launching me high into the clouds. Higher and
higher I soar. As I peek, my heart drops into my stomach and adrenaline pumps through
Due: September 26, 2006
my already hyper heart. I freeze in the air for a second before gravity takes me and I fall
down toward the highway traffic. I fall to almost certain death with a single thought, “She
will catch me.”
My feet hit the pavement first breaking my ankles, shattering my shins and
collapsing my spine. The velocity of the impact bounces me back off the street as if I am
made of rubber. I land on my back in the center lane of the highway, broken. My body
lies in tortuous agony yet, my brain tells me, “She will save me.”
Thick dark red blood ooze from my mouth; I spit and cough up as much as I can,
trying anything not to drown in my own blood. My eyes must be closed because the light
has disappeared. Everything is dark but I can still see her. My mommy, she stands in the
light where I can see her. Her shoulder length light brown hair blows in the slight breeze.
Staring into the concern of her piercing brown eyes I am whole. Suddenly, she fades into
the unfathomable darkness. Where is she going?
I doubtingly plead into the darkness, “Please come back mommy.”
“Time to wake up Josh.”
I respond weakly, “I can’t.”
“Get up now.” A now prominent voice echoes into my ear canals.
Damn it. “Can’t I sleep for five more minutes Klare?” I ask, half asleep.
“No,” her voice now boils with anger, “Wake up now. You have chores to do.”
I groggily groan. Doesn't matter anyway, the wickedness in her voice has spoiled
my pleasant dream. My eyelids slink open to the bright white light of the real world. My
vulnerable eyes squint in pain as the light floods into my retinas. I lay my head back
down and stretch my limbs out across my bed. I close my eyes again thinking that maybe
I will be able to see my mother. I concentrate on her face, her voice, and her scent. No
luck. She has gone into the subconscious of my mind. I miss her already.
For the first five years of my life my mother raised me, housed me, fed me, and
loved me, or rather, she raised us. She loved all five of us. Unfortunately way of life
never stays together for the kids. The financial expenditures and emotional pressures that
came with all five of us became too much for my mother to handle. After living in the
hands of strangers for a year in random foster homes, my father, our pop, managed to
rescue my two brothers and me, then my second oldest sister a few months later. My
Due: September 26, 2006
eldest sister never came. My father moved us eighty miles north from San Jose,
California, to Stockton when he found work there. After six years in Stockton my older
brother and sister moved out. I don’t know if it was whether my father and stepmother
thought their control was limited and as a result sent them away or whether my brother
and sister were just tired of trying to obtain my stepmother’s unachievable standards.
Now I am left to be the oldest. My little brother, my half sister and I are the only
ones still living in my father’s façade of a home. When I wake up, I watch his car as he
pulls out of the driveway to go to work. And after work my father, tired and annoyed,
explains that we must leave him alone because, “his ship has not landed.” He lands in
front of the television and that is the last I hear from him until bedtime. I am drained by
his careless neglect. My body is fatigued by my stepmother’s sporadic physical abuse.
My mind is oppressed by her never ending verbal abuse. The mixture of their bad
parenting skills and the fact that my mom only sees me in my dreams, brings me to
dreadfully depression. Even as the oldest nothing has changed. I continue to wish for my
mother’s return on dandelions and shooting stars.
Today is not just another day of scrubbing the tub and other mindless chores; it is
one of the last days we will spend in our unhappy home. The house is almost empty and
now it is my duty to finish the final touches of cleaning and packing. Even with the
pressures of a lengthy to do list, I stress on the reality that I have spent the last six years
checking things off of it. The only thing that keeps me sane is the good friendships with
me fellow students and staff of both my elementary and junior high schools that I have
built and that still maintain and continue to flourish
So it comes to no surprise that I am upset to leave the hard work I have put into
my life here in Stockton. As treasurer on student council and growing popularity and
participation in extracurricular activities I feel that all my sweat has left been in vain. My
father, on the other hand, remains guiltless to the fact that he is stripping me of the six
years I spent working to make it to this point in my life. His new job is in the bay area
and our new house is in Gilroy, California. That is all that matters to him. He doesn’t care
that my school in Gilroy will never even compare to a day of my school in Stockton. At
least with my life here I have the pleasures that my academics and reputation bring. I am
Due: September 26, 2006
the only one here not excited about this move. I am the only one here who has something
Sigh, shower time. I walk out of my room and down the hall to the bathroom. I
switch on the FM radio and then the shower faucet. Five minutes is the time limit I am
allowed in the soothing heat of the shower. My stepmother will shut off the water if I
exceed her set limitations. I have five minutes and it is a race against time. Faster than
lightening I am out of my t-shirt and sweatpants and into the shower. The warmth of the
water hits the crown of my head and runs down my face. I lather, rinse and repeat. Done.
Before I can turn the nozzle I hear a loud knock on the door, a police knock, abrupt and
stiff. A shrieking, “Your five minutes are up,” follows the officer’s knock, and then she
vanishes with the last drops of water down the drain.
Quickly I get back to my room and change into what clothes I have left in my
closet. My head comes through my shirt and my stepmother comes into view. Her long
pointy face stares down upon me. The sharpness of her facial features gives her a stern
look of supremacy. “What is with your attitude? You have been acting like a little
asshole all month,” she sneers cold-heartedly.
Running my mouth would cost me more dearly than anything else. I have learned
that the hard way. I turn my body around and leave her with a nice view of my back. My
mind tells me this is a smart decision, “Don’t talk back; recoil.”
Unfortunately my mind has left my body open for an attack. She reaches over my
head and strikes me in the bridge of my nose with a half closed fist. My eyes instantly
flood with tears and my nose begins to run with the thick red drips of my blood. I run past
her, down the hall and around my father and little brother as I avalanche down the stairs,
straight to the heavy front door. I open it; look to the top of the staircase and scream,
“You evil bitch!” My words elope with anger in a raspy marriage of hatred.
Turning to the freedom of my outside getaway, I lock eyes with my father. He has
a mixed look of surprise and rage. I slam the door behind me and run. My run is no where
near a collected jog but more like a fifty-yard dash. When I hit the sidewalk at the bottom
of the driveway, I hear our front door open and then slam shut. As I run, I can hear him;
my father. The patters of his footsteps are heavy, yet, the pace is quicker than mine. He
inhales deeply and exhales with the grunt of a wild boar. I look over my shoulder and into
Due: September 26, 2006
the fury of his eyes. He charges me like a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders. He is close,
reaching out trying to grasp his hand around my shirt. Though I think he would prefer to
clasp his paws around my neck. I must put on the after burners; my nitrous. I am cheetah
swift, leaving him in the dust.
A minute sooner than my father, I reach the front door of my friend’s house. I am
able to ring the doorbell twice before my father drags me back to our ravaged battlefield
that will soon no longer be our home. My little brother sits in silence as my father pulls
me past him by the collar. I am not used to being a rebel, but I am use to getting the
beating of one. So it came as a surprising relief when my father took me to the kitchen
sink and proceeded to play doctor on my nose. This unnatural act brought to mind a
single thought, “This is what it feels like to be the oldest.”
My father fought for me. Scolding my stepmother for her rash decision-making
and harsh brutality. In the end my punishment was more chores. Raking the leaves was
going to be the hardest chore to complete so I figured I would start there first. I went to
the garage and located the plastic purple rake and some big black trash bags. I walk down
the path on the side of the house to the backyard lawn, dragging the plastic rake at my
heels. When I come around the bend of the house my jaw drops to the ground in awe. The
grass is no longer visible due to the leaves that blanket the previously prevailing grass
like a quilt. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety bubble in the pit of my stomach just
looking at my chore. Think positive, “The faster I start the faster I will be done.”
It has been an hour; I need to take a water break. Raking these leaves has given
me an urge to consume drink and food. I drop the rake next to my biggest rusty gold pile
of leaves. I walk back the side route of the house to the side garage door. I twist the
shinny copper doorknob clockwise, “Hmm…that’s funny,” I think to myself, “It’s
I open the wooden gate to the front yard and walk around the house to the front
door. I pull the latch but, it is locked as well. I ring the doorbell and wait. No one
answers. I ring it again. I hear the ding-dong of the bell echo throughout the empty 2-
story orange stucco 4-bedroom castle. Still, no one comes. I wait, thinking of what I can
do. I could walk down to my friend’s house but I don’t want to risk missing my parents if
they decide to come back when I’m gone. An hour of strained sitting on wet grass
Due: September 26, 2006
changes my mind and I decide it is time to walk to my friend, Bryan’s house. I am like
my mother, abandoned in the middle of a busy highway of thoughts and emotions. The
notion that my parents neglected to inform me of their departure cuts me deeper than any
knife and bruises me harder than any punch. The walk to Bryan’s is about eight or nine
house down and it gives me enough time to think and re-think the day’s events. I am
having a major difficulty with only one of my parents’ actions, “How could they just
I will never overlook Bryan’s house, since it is a cookie cutout of our own house;
orange stucco and all. I ring the doorbell twice and Bryan answers the door with a grin,
“Hey Josh,” his smile fades at sight of me.
“What happened to your eye?” His chirpy questioning irritates my train of
“Uumm,” I stall as I momentarily forget my default answer, “Nothing. I ran into a
door or something. Can I use your phone?” My voice monotone and lifeless.
“Yeah, sure. Come on in.”
I call the only person I know that can help me deal with this situation, my eldest
sister. When I hear her soothing voice on the other end of the phone, I break down,
venting my sorrows to her. She has an ultimatum for me, one that I must decide on my
own. I have had a chance to make this decision before. The last time I thought the cuts
and bruises would go away. I was naïve to the fact that my cuts would not leave behind
lasting emotional scars. Now it is just I. Simply me and my ultimatum, to call or not to
call. My father built up my trust in him by noon, just to tear it back down by the six
o’clock news. I can no longer chase his approval. I will not give my mother a chance to
catch me anymore, because in every dream I hit the ground.
I will rescue myself. If I fall, I can catch myself. Loving my self is more
important than the affection and approval of both my mother and father. Their love will
never make me whole. The time has come to discover what, beside my parents, makes me
who I am. Loneliness cannot hurt me if I always have my self because, for that reason, I
can never be truly alone. I am enough.
I look over my shoulder to see if Bryan is in listening distance to my
conversation. Thanks to his goldfish attention span, he is nowhere to be seen or heard. I
Due: September 26, 2006
know what needs to be done. I cup my left hand over the phone receiver and tell my sister
in an almost silent whisper, “Report it.”