You can run
You can hide
But you can’t escape from me
You can run
You can hide
Makes no difference how you flee
Runaway. M.S. 1988
I not long ago mentioned that much of what I found out about our early years came from a diary, of sorts, that I found which our mother had penned. A diary that outlined the lengths our father went to enforce his superiority upon us, or more often upon me. Well that diary was found behind her chest of drawers and the way I found it was a complete accident.
One hot summery day during my sixth year I made the mistake of spraying one of the flowers off the top of one of our father’s rose bushes as Herod and I ran and played around the sprinkler in the back yard. At the time there was only one thing our father cared about as much as his bible and his god and that was his roses, he had more than a hundred of them in both the front and back yards of our small, two bedroom suburban home and I lopped the top off one.
At the time I didn’t even realise I had done it, but of course the eagle eye of our father who was sitting on the beach lounge reading, or rereading, his good book noticed it almost immediately. I still to this day could not tell you exactly what it was he yelled as he climbed from his lounge and pounced on me and it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that I fled with only hair’s breadth between us.
I ran straight out the side gate, slamming it behind me and slowing the spitting, angry man behind me down just enough for me to get inside the house. It was back in a time where people didn’t have a need to lock their doors, and for that I have to be thankful to someone, although I refuse to accept it was the same higher power my father worshipped. The slammed gate and front door gave me precious seconds to gather distance but I needed somewhere to hide until he cooled down. That hiding spot came by way of my parents bedroom a place both Herod and I had been repeatedly told was not our place to enter.
How my father did not see the door of the room he shared with our mother moving I do not know but he didn’t. My hiding spot was one of desperation, I’d never been in the room before, and I just flumped myself down between the wall and our mother’s dressing table. Had our father come into the room looking for me he’d have surely found me and punished me for both the rose and being in their bedroom, but he never did because he assumed his previous threats were enough to keep me out. By the time my mother found me, cowering in the corner, my father had cooled down and the only wrath I got was being sent to bed without any dinner and only a bible for company.
However two things happened as a result of that day, firstly Herod somehow managed to smuggle me food that night so I didn’t go hungry. The second thing was that a large bag of clothes appeared in the corner of our parents bedroom. At first I thought the bag was placed there to stop me from hiding there, however the next time I fled to the same spot and used the bag to actually hide me I wondered if maybe my mother had actually put the bag there for a reason.
But it wasn’t until the following year that I got a little more than I bargained for when I fled into that same spot. That particular time I was fleeing from my father because I had gotten the reading book the school had given me to read wrong too many times. I wasn’t an excelling student by any means, that honour went to Herod, but I was according to my school reports a good reader, I was reading three levels above my fellow students, and two levels above Herod at the time, but I wasn’t perfect.
I don’t remember the name of the book but I was reading aloud at the kitchen table after dinner as our father sat next to me along with Herod and our mother was doing the dishes as she was required to do after every meal. Most of the time I was sure it was Mum who took more notice of our reading, even while she did the dishes but on this one occasions obviously someone else was listening. I stumbled on the word Psychology three times as I was reading and on the third time my father’s closed hand slammed down onto the table. Angry words were spoken, yelled and screamed at me, I stupidly tried to defend myself and my reading and the next thing I knew I was laying on my back on the floor having felt the full force of my father’s swinging arm.
I cried, stood up, and in an anger driven attack no one expected I threw my book at my father hitting him in the side of the head. Immediately I knew my mistake and bolted. With only my survival in mind I bolted for the back door, slammed it hoping my father would think I went outside, then bolted to my tried and tested hiding spot beside Mum’s drawers. My ruse must have worked because I safely got into our parents bedroom, flumped down into the corner and pulled the large bag over me. It was while I was laying there uncomfortable I felt what the diary, I didn’t know what it was at the time but something told me that taking it with me was the right thing to do.
I was there nearly an hour before I was rescued by Mum and escorted back to the room I shared with Herod. How they managed to calm our father down I don’t know but I had escaped another beating and I’d also escaped with the diary down my pants. Not a very pleasant thought I realise but neither was anything else that happened that night.