Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from my manuscript detailing my own abuse. Please see “My Story of Abuse” under the category link.
The sun had gone down and Ben and I were still wading in the creek lookin’ for crawdads so we could go fishin’ tomorrow morning. We had a big coffee can about one-third of the way filled with all different sizes of crawdads. I lifted a rock, and this really big, bluish-looking crawdad went swimming backward as fast as he could to get away, but Ben was faster and grabbed him up. Neither of us had ever seen a crawdad like him. Ben figured he was probably really, really old and said when they get this old they turn to blue and boy, can they pinch a lot harder than the other ones. We were closely inspecting him when I heard Mom yelling for me. I answered her but she didn’t hear me. I said, “come on Ben I gotta get home.”
Then, I heard my Dad’s shrill whistle—and answered him back, whistling as loud as I could. He had taught all three of us how to whistle for times just like this one. I picked up my pace and told Ben to hurry up before I got into trouble. My heart began racing as I began to run so I wouldn’t get into trouble—if I wasn’t already. We finally reached the house and I told Ben I’d meet him early in the morning at the Deep Hole to go fishin’. He said, “I get the blue crawdad for bait!”
I went running into the back of the house. My Mom looked at me with disgust and said, “where in god’s name have you been? Didn’t you hear me hollerin’ at you? Get in there and get the mud off of you—we’re goin’ to town.” I hurried and got a washrag and wiped the mud off my legs and arms. I ran up the steps to change clothes and could smell Murphy’s Oil Soap and knew Darcie and Crystal must be cleaning.
I was really hungry and hoping Mom was going to Kroger’s. Darcie and Crystal were staying home to finish washing down their bedroom walls and bed springs. Mom yelled again, “Dottie, will you hurry the hell up!” I came flying back down the steps and ran out the door to get into the car. It was so hot in the car with the windows up and the heat off the vinyl seat stung my legs. I sat back as Mom and Dad got in the car. He said, “where are you gettin’ a check cashed?” “Super-X, I guess if they’ll cash it,” she said. Panic suddenly hit me, I was the only one with them and Mom never went in to cash a check—she always made one of us do it. Dad pulled into the front of Super-X as Mom handed me a check made out for $40.00. A sickening feeling rose up through me in a rush. I said, do I have to do this? Dad squawked at me, “get your ass in there now.”
I knew the check was no good. As I was trying to pull on the big glass door to the store—it suddenly opened wide ahead of me; a man behind me said, there ya’ go. I just put my head down and walked to the back of the store where the pharmacy was—I had done this before and was so afraid to ask if they’d cash the check. I looked up and saw this really tall man standing behind the counter with his white coat on like doctors wear. His name was written in red across the top of a pocket—but I didn’t know what it said. He had real blond hair and red things all over his face. His blue eyes glanced down at me with disgust and he ignored me. I stood there for a few minutes waiting for him to look at me again. He didn’t. I held up the check to him standing on my tip-toes and said, “Sir, can you okay this check for my Mom?” He ripped the check out of my hands and looked at it and quickly handed it back and said, no—we’ve gotten too many checks returned. I knew that if I didn’t get the check cashed; I’d really be in trouble. So, I persisted and even lied to him, and said, “oh, I know this one is good because I put the money in the bank myself.” He took the check back and I felt relief that he was going to okay it. Then, he picked up the phone and called the bank! I could hear him reading them numbers and saying that they had checks returned before for non-something funds. He laughed, and said, yeh, “just what I figured.” He handed me back the check and said, it’s no good. I was so embarrassed and humiliated as people standing around were shaking their heads. I wished I could just disappear, or just die.
I started out of the store with the check in my hand and tears running down my face and walked faster and faster until I was outside. I ran across the parking lot and jumped into the backseat and threw the check up over the seat to her. She said in a shocked voice, “well, you didn’t get it cashed!” I said, they wouldn’t cash it—as I was wiping the tears off my face; I didn’t want them to see me crying. Dad said I bet you anything by god she just went in there and stood and come back out so we’d think she tried to get it cashed. Now, “get your ass back in there and get that damn check cashed now!”
I felt so many things as they both were laughing to each other and saying I just went in there and stood for awhile so they’d think I tried to get it cashed. Dad said, “what did I do to you the last time you lied to me?” I was crying hard now and didn’t care and I was so mad at them—oh, how I hated them at that very moment. I said that man in the white coat called the bank and they told him it wasn’t any good! I’m not lying! Dad looked back at me and said, “oh look, Mara the little baby is crying because they called the bank, and laughed some more.” Well, Joe “what the hell are we gonna do now? There’s not a damn thing at the house to eat.” He glanced back at me as he was pulling out and said, “hey Dot, doesn’t your teacher own a little grocery store?” I said, “yeh.” And wondered what he was going to do. He said, “Mara, if I take her in with me—they’ll give me credit; it’s her teacher.” A couple minutes later, he pulled in front of Wilson’s Carry Out. He got out and said, “come on Dot.” I said, “no, I don’t want to.” “Get out of the goddamn car now and go in here with me!” Oh, how I didn’t want to go in. Mrs. Wilson was at the cash register and had a shocked look on her face and spoke to me, and I said hello back to her very quietly with my head down. She was a portly woman, with short, curly hair and had a white apron on with a pencil stuck on top of her ear. My Dad went up to her and said, “I was wonderin’ if you wouldn’t extend me some credit until I get paid next Friday—we need some groceries.” She said, “sorry, we don’t extend credit sir—it’s strictly cash and carry.” He persisted, “but it’s only for a week and I’ll be back in here next Friday evening to pay ya—ya’ know it’s expensive trying to feed a family these days.” She replied, “yes, I know it is Sir, but I’m sorry, we don’t give credit.” He didn’t respond to her and pushed on me to go out the door. I was so embarrassed I wished I could just die on the spot.
I didn’t hear anything they were saying on the ride back out the creek—I wasn’t even watching how he was driving because I didn’t care if we wrecked and went in the creek or not. When we pulled back into the driveway—I jumped out of the car and said, I have to go water Prince, and I went to the barn and cried and cried and wondered how I would ever face my teacher on Monday. Maybe I would die before Monday and not ever have to see her again—I didn’t feel hungry anymore.