The Wooden Spoon

"Why did you come back? Did you run out of money or drugs or were there just no more losers to trick with"? 

I
said nothing and merely moved to the front of the hallway just outside
the kitchen, that now served as my bedroom; because afterall if I
really wanted to be a part of the family, I wouldn’t keep running away.
I opened the hall closet that held all my earthly possessions and slid
out the plastic patio chaise lounge chair she had given me to sleep on.

"If
you think you are going to come back here in the middle of the
afternoon, after weeks of being god knows where, you’ve got another
thing coming!" Still I said nothing as I unfolded the orange and white
striped vinyl lounger that now served in the hallway as my bed. As I
spread the sheet out on it, she stood there, watching me, red-faced,
eyes bulging. She reached down and snatched the sheet off the lounger,
balling it up and holding it close to her body as though it was a hard
won prize. "I SAID you weren’t going to come in here and sleep." I
looked at her a long moment and watched the unsureness creep into her
eyes. My silence was rattling her and shaking her already filmsy
illusion of power over a situation she was powerless to control.
At
16 I’d already been running away from home for nearly 3 years, staying
with friends and away from her as long as I could, until I had to
return home for a while before it became unbearable again and I felt
compelled to leave, to get away from this angry woman who hated me.
Hated me because I never measured up, was never what she thought I
ought to be, angry because I refused to let her inside after she was
told what my father had done to me all those years.
Saying
nothing, I sat down on the lounger, picked up a book and began to read
because I couldn’t fire up a joint and blow the smoke in her face.
"Just what do you think you’re doing?" she asked, incredulous.
"Reading", I replied flatly. She stood there a minute more and left,
moving into the kitchen. A second later she had returned and stood over
me, as a sharp searing pain ripped through the right side of my jaw,
accompanied by a resounding ‘crack’. I scrambled up off the lounge
chair, holding my jaw and she backed up a few feet, weilding in her
hand the wooden spoon. She’d never attempted to hit me in the face with
it before.
The
Wooden Spoon. The great terrorizer of my childhood. The only thing I
had ever been truly scared of as a child. It was old, about 12 inches
long, made of solid, hard wood and had been owned by my
great-grandmother. When you were whacked with it, no matter where, it
hurt; worse than a belt or a paddle or my father’s hand. She had
started using it when she had begun hurting her hands hitting me with
them or slamming them into furniture when I ducked, dodging her slaps.
"What
the fuck did you do that for?", I demanded as I took a step out of the
corner I was in and toward her. She backed up, into the doorjam and
said "I’m not putting up with your lip. You think you can just stroll
in here after disappearing for weeks and then get lippy? No way."
"You asked me what I was doing and I answered you. I wasn’t being lippy."
She
raised the the spoon again to hit me and I snatched it, breaking it in
half over my knee. The pieces fell to the floor, rendered impotent, and
forever useless. "Now. Hit me with it again", I spat at her.
 

"That was my grandmother’s spoon", she said weakly, staring at the broken pieces lying on the floor.

"If you didn’t want it broken, then you shouldn’t have been using it to hit me," I retorted.
And then she did it. She reached out and backhanded me in the face. Hard.

I
grabbed her by the neck of her housedress and pushed her hard up
against the doorjam with all my strength and snarled, "If you ever lay
another hand on me or hit me again , I swear to God I’ll fucking kill
you. I’ve had it. I’ve put up with your shit for years. Enough is
enough. Leave me the fuck alone." I swear I’ll remember those words for
as long as I live because I’ve never said them to anyone else before or
since.

The
blood drained from her face; her face a conglomeration of confusion,
fear, anger and she retreated to her locked bedroom, saying nothing
more.

I
sat back down on the lounger once more and picked up my book, which had
fallen to the floor. I heard her on the phone in her bedroom. "I need
the police to come and arrest my daughter. She’s on drugs and she just
assaulted me and threatened my life".

Knowing
she would not bring me anything I may need in juvenile hall, I packed a
brown grocery bag with toiletries and one change of clothes for when I
was released. I didn’t care. Anyplace was better than living here on a
lounge chair in a hallway with a crazy woman who hated the sight of me.
I sat and waited for the police to arrive.

I
awoke 3 hours later to find I was indeed still quite free and she was
still quite locked in her bedroom. So I packed another bag, and headed
out to the nearest pay phone to call my best friend for a place to
crash for awhile.

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