Her cruel smile poised over a glass of white wine.
His anger filling up the walls like a noxious gas, spreading down my throat until all I could do was choke on the air that I could never find.
My parents must’ve thought that the answer to good parenting lay inside bottles of cheap wine, because the smell of fermented grapes was all I could smell sometimes.
On their breath, on their skin, on the carpet floor, staining their clothes, and filling my home.
I learned to hate the smell of wine.
Every second was like walking on top of egg shells, or bubble wrap—
Scared to breathe too loud sometimes.
I remember holding onto bated breaths in the passenger seat of a car driven by a man with red tinged eyes and stale breath.
I remember wrapping myself in my arms so tightly as if by compacting myself into a ball I could disappear.
I remember brushing my mothers hair and bandaging her injuries as she told me how much she wished I had never been born
Because if I didn’t take care of her then who would?
I was a mother to my mother when I was eleven years old.
I remember my childhood slipping away and being replaced by an emptiness I could not yet define.
I remember shaking underneath the covers of my bed when I heard the front door open late at night because my monsters were not underneath my bed, my monsters were right outside,
stumbling through the hallways, and slurring over words that would degrade my mind.
I remember waking up to blaring music on school nights, and slurred screaming matches as they would fight, not getting any sleep for the fear that they might hurt me this time.
Lying to the police at school that everything was fine, because if I told then what would happen to me, or my family this time?
There might not have been visible bruises, or scars, but that does not dismiss the trauma to my heart.
You can’t exactly measure wounds to your heart with x-rays, or surgeries, or a magnifying glass,
but I did not pay my way through therapy at seventeen to be told by someone else that I was overreacting.
That my skin does not tremble every single day because I am afraid of men, and loud noises, and drunk people, and words.
Because you do not truly realize the damage that words can do until you experience first hand verbal abuse.
Should I be grateful that my parents never left a visible bruise?