Little Miss Wonder
I've got to get this place cleaned up. If the kitchen isn't just so then I'm asking for trouble. I've learnt that lesson over the years.
I remember when it started. Exactly a month after our Wedding Day and Johnny came home from work around seven as usual. He swaggered through the door and as soon as I saw him I knew something had changed. I didn't know what, but I swear in the one second our eyes met I saw a different side to his soul. I put his dinner on the table on one of the place mats his sister had given us as a wedding present. I wanted the table to look nice you understand. I wanted my husband to sit in our new, clean kitchen, eating a good hot meal. I wanted him to see how much I loved him. He took one mouthful and turned to me as I stood by the sink scouring at a saucepan. It was that look again. The look I would become accustomed to. The devil was in that angry face. He jumped up from the chair, sweeping his plate from the table with his arm. As the food hit the floor so his fist hit my mouth. For a moment my brain just froze. But as the pain infused through my head so did the realisation of what my husband had done. Outside I could hear the jingling chime of an ice cream van enticing kids to the street as Johnny rained punches to my body. I hated having to clean up my own blood afterwards. That felt more degrading than anything he could ever do to me.
I've been scrubbing this kitchen floor all afternoon and it still looks dirty. The stains just won't go away. He should have married Anne with the blue silk blouse. I must get this floor clean.
The beatings continued on a weekly basis. At first I used to fight back. It made him worse. The punches and kicks would become more ferocious in their intensity as I begged him to stop, screaming that I loved him. So I learnt a routine. Keep silent, accept my punishment and the bruises wouldn't show if I wore long sleeves. When I found out I was pregnant I thought he might change. I was wrong. After I told him I was going to have our child, I sat in front of the dressing table mirror and brushed my hair. I remember watching my reflection as Johnny repeatedly hit the back of my head and I thought maybe I could be like Alice. I loved reading that book as a child. Maybe I could slip away through the looking glass and live a life I thought I always would. Gentle, painless and full of love.
It's nearly seven. Dinner is ready. A place set at the table. I have wiped the knife and replaced the saw with the other tools that hang in the garage. I sit down to eat my meal and look around the kitchen. I never expected there too be so much blood but this time I didn't mind cleaning it up. The red stains have all gone, but I pray that the space in my eyes never shows through.
Little Miss Wonder.
13 July 2004.