August 15, 2008

Survivor Stories

Creative Writing 301

Feb. 18, 2008


My childhood was normal. I had two normal kid sisters, a normal mom, a normal dad, and even a normal dog. We lived in a normal brown house, on a normal American street, in a normal sized town. The beatings were also normal. I wasn’t hit, but it might as well have been me. The sob filled screams of my mother echoed throughout our normal house on a somewhat regular basis. They terrified my normal sisters, my normal dog, and my normal adolescent life. Afterwards we would usually go to a hotel. The magnificent heated pools and the colorful brightly lit game rooms became a haven for me to escape my normal life. My dad would normally cry and apologize, vowing it would never happen again. He normally pointed to how much he had changed. After a few days my mom would give in, forgive him, and we would go back to our normal house, until the next time. This was the routine for my normal life. The routine would continue on, until one night, the normalcy in my life came to a sudden bloody end.

They were fireworks in my dream. The “POP, POP, POP” took me back to humid Forth of July evenings when my family postponed our normal lives in order to smell the salt from the ocean mix with the burnt gunpowder of expended fireworks. It was the scream woke me up and brought me back to that cold March night. It wasn’t one of my moms normal sob filled screams. The sound that echoed through my house that night was more guttural, as if her lungs had exploded and the remaining air overwhelmed her vocal cords before it left her mouth. This instinctive roar woke me up and pulled me into the room where the sound had originated. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was that our normally white walls had been clumsily coated with a dark red hue of fresh paint, though I couldn’t smell the distinctive odor that usually accompanied such a job. What I could smell was the gunpowder from my dream. It was heavy in the air and I would soon find its source. As my eyes scanned the dark room the continued screams of my mother eventually drew my attention to a corner where my parents were locked in a bloody life and death struggle. The struggle was not unusual but normally there was no gun, and normally there was not as much blood. The whole picture was seemingly out of place in what was up until then my relatively normal life. The spot in the now chaotic room, where my was dad holding the now jammed gun and my mom was trying free her from his crazed choking grip, seemed to move closer and closer until I was watching the spectacle from only a few feet away. The repeated screams of help from my mother and the continued promises of death being uttered by my father ignited my own fuse and soon propelled each ounce of my 11 year old weight into the deadly fray. The fight to save my mothers life seemed like it was over in a matter of seconds. Retrieving the gun was easy enough, but the freeing of my mother took all that I had and ended with me and my father crashing to the wet floor. Everything after that is now a blur. The details of my father’s flight into the frozen darkness, his subsequent capture a few weeks later, my mothers miraculous salvation, and recovery; were all forgotten in the span of time between then and now.

I thought I was strong enough to put it all behind me but it has always and probably will always haunt me. Not the event itself but the presentation of my own and my mothers own mortality in such a vivid and traumatic way. The panic attacks usually occurred when I was thinking about death, which was quite often, but the medication seemed to work after a while. Though I did forget some of the details of that night, the things that will never be forgotten are those that ended my normal life and brought about a new but somewhat scary life. No longer would I wake up to the normal screams of my mother, no longer would me and my sister be frightened, no longer would we stay at hotels and swim in the warm pools or play in the fascinating game rooms, and no longer would my father be in my life. I can’t say that I was sad to see him go away; I have heard stories of people who hated their fathers but cried at their funerals while at the same time loved their mother but couldn’t cry at their funeral. I am constantly afraid that this will happen to me when the time comes but I remind myself that I had cried enough for both back when my life was normal and the tears that I will cry in the future will be for me and me alone.

Adam Chase Keith..C.C.U. Conway S.C.
Survivor 21 years old now
Shared with Permission
Copyrighted, may not distribute without prior permission.

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