Amelia shuddered quietly as the footsteps pounded closer to her room. The door opened with a creak, like it always did, the steps softening as they crossed her room. She peered from her vantage point in the closet as her step-father leaned over the lump of clothes and blankets in the middle of her bed. Even from here, almost across the room, she could smell his sickly musk. It consisted of a combination of sweat, grease and something more bitter than those two combined.
“Night Ames,” he tried to kiss the lump, nearly losing his balance in the process. Clumsily he turned, knocking a toy from her bedside table to the floor without noticing despite the thump it made. Once he had been out of the room for at least 5 minutes, Amelia slowly climbed from her nest of shoes and play clothes in the closet. Tonight hadn’t been bad, but his face wasn’t as red as it usually had been. Normally his goodnight’s came with a flurry of quiet insults, pinched elbows, and kisses with too much saliva.
Once in bed, Amelia moved the lump to the floor near her, hoping to trip up anyone who tried to sneak into the room at night. She knew many things, like counting by twos, how to write her name in cursive and that once the lights were off, the real face of people came out. Most people were ok, like her mom, or her granny. No matter what he did though, her step-father was the absolute worst.
At night, she could hear him yelling at mom from their room, the words too muffled to be made out, but the tone harsh and unforgiving. Sometimes, she would hear her mom sobbing as he stomped away, back to the living room. Every day, when he got home, he would sit in the living room, watching sports, drinking his adult water. At some point, he would get angry at the TV, which would turn into anger at anyone who got in his way. Amelia learned to quickly avoid him in the evenings, to keep to her room, or to play in the backyard until the sun nearly set.
There were moments when he smiled, held her hand gently as they crossed the road together, or simply gave her treats with warmth and happiness in his eyes. It was all a trap however, he used that against her whenever his face got red again. Claiming Amelia and her mother just used him for his money and good will. This was normally accompanied by him grabbing her ear and roughly dragging Amelia down the hall for his type of discipline.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“I’m sorry, why are you referring to yourself in the third person as you talk about your past?” The woman in the plain beige suit leaned towards me, her quickly thinking eyes betraying her calm demeanor and relaxed movements. “Do you not see yourself as participating in the events?” I could see her most recently written statement on her pad from her forward position. ‘Disassociation?’ was the only word, written in bold and underlined.
“Look you’re just like the rest.” I folded my arms as I leaned back, “you come in, looking to prove your intelligence by ‘solving’ me. That’s what everyone wants to do. Fix the broken girl, the one who clings to a notion of monsters and innocence.” I adjusted my white robe, the kind I wore every day at the ‘retreat’. I knew it was a hospital, but most residents didn’t. “I’m not broken, my story is just unbelievable to those who weren’t there.”
“You never answered the question.” Tapping her pen in a four count as she speaks to me, I can hear the condescending tone in her voice, grating against my patience.
“Just shut up, you came to examine the freak didn’t you? Then stop tapping the stupid pen, and let me tell you about Terrance and where he came from.” I know my voice is curt, but I let it fall like daggers, hoping that it cuts a nerve beneath her relaxed demeanor.
The director, who I didn’t realize was there, moved into the corner of my vision. His disapproving glare showed me I was on the right track, but I needed to be careful with him around. Last time I had misbehaved, I ended up drugged on nearly double the meds, barely able to tell my left hand from my right. The thought of it caused a shiver of fear to tingle down my spine. An involuntary shudder happened briefly, and I hurried with my story to avoid thinking about it any more.