pearls around the neck • 53
I inhaled in and out, watching my breath collect like frost on the living room window. I slowly rested
my head on the frozen glass: chills up my spine. Looking out the window, I searched through the
evening for him...but all I could see was a snowy night. I sighed. My father was supposed to be back
four hours ago. The dining room table was set up with my father’s favorite meal in the center, but of
course it was untouched and cold. I could hear my mother’s whimpers through the thin walls. I felt my
own tears well up in the corners of my eyes then a single but deadly tear caressed my cheek. I wiped it
quickly away, as if I were embarrassed that someone might see my weakness, but, of course, no one was
really there. I heard a distant screech of tires across the icy road, and saw the light beam. Finally, my dad
I tiptoed up to my room, as no confirmation of his arrival was needed. Pressing my whole body against
the door, I listened and all I could hear was the click-clack of my father’s shoes on the hard wood
floors. I embraced the first few seconds of silence and prepared myself for the disaster to come. I was
astonished by how loud that one single scream was. The fight had erupted and I knew this one was
worse than the others. I covered my ears, trying to block out my mother’s cries. I ran over to my stereo
and fiddled with it, turning it to maximum volume. I had found something to mask out this tortured
life. I lay in bed hoping this night would soon be over, knowing that in the morning everyone would
plaster that fake smile on his or her face. The same fake smile I have put on for to many years. I closed
my eyes and tried to forget the pain. All of a sudden my bedroom door swung open and there he stood.
I couldn’t remember the last time my Dad had been in my room. Was it when he bought me that glass
jewelry box, when he placed a picture of our family inside? Still that was ages ago. But, of course he
wasn’t here to praise me, he was here to insult me, again. I could tell he was angry by the way he glared
at me: like I was nothing, rotting away like a piece of meat on the carcass of an animal.
“ Turn off that goddamn music!” he yelled in disgust. I raised my face to look up at him. Fearlessly, I
spoke “Maybe you should stop hurting Mom or better yet come home on time.” He just stood there,
almost speechless but then it happened so fast, his hand came across my face. Actually, it was not his
hand, but that is how it always felt to me: his glance. A slap. His severe hard-as-stone look all across
my face filled with disdain and disgust. Worth than a physical slap on my face. I whimpered and held
back my tears. I felt like crying. I also felt like hugging him and asking him what had happened to our
family, why didn’t we talk, or why, just why, was he hurting me and my Mom. But, of course that was
not realistic and life was not perfect.
Waking up the next morning was horrible. School was the last place I wanted to spend my day.
Pretending that my life was as colorful as the lives of the cheerleaders who ran my school. Instead I
crawled under my sheets and curled into a small ball. I replayed the night, a night just as many other
nights but this one had left a mark, not only in my heart, but also on my face: my swollen eyes. Finally,
I got out of bed and saw a note hanging on my door. I walked to the door and pulled the crumpled
piece of paper and read:
I had to take a break from all this.