This piece is part of a series I write occasionally called Childhood Memories where I recall a memory in story form. These pieces are short, to the point, and piercing as I process memories of emotional abuse, neglect, and fear.
It had to have been around 10pm.
I’d been hanging out in the bedroom of a friend who lived a building down in the same apartments as me. I should have been home in bed, it was a school night. Instead, I was sitting in a cigarette smoke-filled room, with a couple of the older boys from the complex.
I couldn’t tell you what exactly we were doing, probably watching music videos on MTV back when that channel actually played music. I remember doing that often.
I figured I should probably keep an eye on the time; eventually, my dad would be home from his second shift job and I needed to be home and in bed, before he got there. I shuttered to think what would happen if he found out I wasn’t home.
I walked into the front room and asked my friend’s mom what time it was. I wonder why she didn’t question my being at her home so late at night. Did she think my dad was okay with me being out at this time of night? Was this normal behavior for a 12-year-old to hang out with older boys like I was?
11:15 she tells me.
I feel the color drain from my face as the heat rises. I can feel the shots of anxious adrenaline as they fill my stomach and threaten to make me sick. I don’t say a word, I run out the door, down the walk and stop just short of my dad’s car parked in the spot in front of our door.
I remember the fear I felt at the consequences to come, once I was inside. My mind racing for a story to tell – I think I remember coming up with something along the lines of his mom was having health problems and my friend had freaked out and come to get me.
It sounded believable in my 12-year old mind as a means to explain why I was out after 11pm at night.
I took a deep breath, blinked back the tears that were burning the edges of my eyes and I turned the doorknob to go inside. The door was locked. I pulled my key out of my pocket, put it in the lock and tried to turn it – but my key stayed steadfast in the upright position. I tried with both hands to turn my key but it wouldn’t budge, it was like the lock was frozen.
So, I knocked on the door. Nothing.
I knocked again. Nothings.
I remember I began to sob and started pounding on the door. What if he didn’t let me in? Where would I sleep? Please! Please open the door, I’m scared!
After what felt like an eternity in the understanding of time my 12-year old mind had, I heard some noise behind the door and then it opened.
I barely remember the look on my father’s face as I entered and began walking up the stairs to my room and the certain doom to come. In fact, my memory after this point is near non-existent.
But I do remember seeing through my tears, all the duct tape my dad had used on the deadbolt to ensure it didn’t move when I tried to unlock the door.
At that moment, my little brain worked fast to process how my dad had locked me out of the house that night. What a horrible child I must be to deserve that.
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