PROLOGUE - Never Been Ready
I remember the shattering glass most of all. The sound still echoes through my head to this day. It was deafening to my child-sized eardrums, and I awoke quickly, covering my ears to try to mute the piercing sound.
The shrill voices came next. Heated, angry words were shouted outside my frilly pink bedroom that my mother and I had decorated from things we'd found at Goodwill. I was used to the shouting. My parents lived to fight. I spent a good part of my early childhood hidden behind the walls of that room. I'd play with my Barbies and dream of a normal family. Barbie would bake apple pie and sing Etta James in the kitchen, and Ken would take her out dancing. He would never raise his voice...or his hand. When I awoke that night though, it felt different...scarier. Even at seven, I knew something major was about to happen, and my world would never be the same.
Angry stomping passed my door, followed by hysterical cries and pleading words. Someone rushed down the hall, stopping briefly by my door, and then I heard the front door slam. Jumping out of my bed, I peeked my head out the door in the direction of our small living room. It was empty, and dark. The glass coffee table was in shards, and pieces were scattered all over the shaggy brown carpet. The dark shadows of the room seemed to be closing in on me from all angles. With the curiosity of a young child getting the best of me, I pressed on and walked farther into the room. No one was to be seen anywhere, and my exploration proved fruitless. Not knowing what else to do or where else to go, I picked a spot in the corner, curled myself into a ball, and started to count the glittery pieces of glass.
"What the hell are you doing out of bed?" my father asked when he found me some time later. My count had reached the hundreds by then, and my feet were ice cold from the lack of heat in the house. I looked up at the man I both loved and feared. Both of his hands were wrapped in bloody bandages and his clothes looked askew and out of place. I remember wondering if he had a hard time getting dressed with those bandages on his hands and that’s why he looked so funny. I reminded myself to help Daddy button his shirt the next day. Children have such innocent minds.
"I couldn't sleep," I answered quietly, "Where's Mommy?"
"She's gone. For good."
Copyright J.L. Berg 2014