Mother had finally found the balls to leave father. Here we were heading half way across the country to get away from him. It was both terrifying and electrifying. The start of a new adventure.
Looking back I saw Jamie was fast asleep, poor thing. It was all too much for him. Grabbing my mother’s hand I gave it a squeeze, it relaxed the tense muscles on her face. It was dusk and we had been driving for hours. Each row of corn made a tunnel to the horizon and was mesmerizing. Sticking my hand out of the window, I made bird movements in the wind to amuse myself. I dared to feel a little hopeful and happy after years of listening to my mother being abused by my father. He had finally gone to far by punching me in the face. My mother never said anything at the time but her resolve hardened and a week later we were gone.
Hours later I heard mom stifle a yawn and turned to see her smiling at me.
“Let’s find somewhere for us to turn in” she said looking tired “Its been a long day.” I nodded and kept an eye out for a sign. Motels dotted the route and we soon saw a neon pink sign calling us to “Come to the Sunny Sands Motel for a Good Night’s Sleep”. The “Vacancy” signed blinked and buzzed.
I waited in the car with Jamie. My muscles which had spent the last 2 hours reminding me that they needed to stretch were now complaining loudly. Getting out of the car, I touched the sky then my toes to shut them up. Noticing movement I looked over just in time to see someone watching us from a window.
“Perv” I said to myself turning my back on him.
Mom came out with a key and an ice bucket. We moved around to a room at the back. “The owner said its quieter here” she explained pulling bags out of the boot.
“Not that one mom. That’s just shoes” I pulled out what I needed and went to wake Jamie up. He looked at me with groggy eyes and moaned about being woken up.
“Come on or sleep in the car” I said dropping his bag on his head and walking away.
The room was standard with faded floral bed covers and badly painted art on the walls. But at least it was clean and smelled fresh. Jamie ran and jumped onto the bed making it move and hit the wall with a bang. “Sorry” he smiled. I could see he was glad to be out of the car. We started to get our night clothes out when someone knocked on the door. It was the perv.
“Who’s banging on the wall?” he asked trying to peer past my mother into the room.
“Oh sorry about that” she smiled. “My son rather enthusiastically jumped on the bed.”
He didn’t return her smile. “I’m trying to sleep” he said rather aggressively.
“I’m sorry it won’t happen again” mother said closing the door firmly in his face.
“Bang!” he hit the door.
“Asshole!” I shouted. The footsteps stopped and my breath caught in my throat as we all listened intently. He moved on again and I took a breath.
“Come on Ann, we don’t behave like that.” I felt sorry for my outburst but was just so sick of having to shut up all the time. My frustration showed on my face and my mother came over and gave me a bear hug.
“This is it girl, our new start.” She motioned to Jamie to come and included him in the hug. “No more fear, no more accepting less than what we want.”
“No more fear” Jamie whispered.
“No more fear” mom repeated cuddling us to her.
The motel diner looked scaly but did great toasted sandwiches, not that we could have afforded more anyway. We had a good supper and went back to our room in high spirits, even though we were dead tired. Mom put the TV on but really it was just background noise, no-one was watching. We all 3 showered and got ready for bed, yawning away. I think I fell asleep as my head hit the pillow. I barely had the energy to say goodnight.
Something woke me up. The room was black and quiet and my eyes struggled to adjust and let my brain know where I was. My mom gave a little snork, fast asleep. Putting my hand out I felt Jamie warm, next to me. Remembering now, I closed my eyes again, taking a deep breath and walking slowly back into sleep. I heard it again. It was like a scratching noise at the door. Suddenly I was wide awake. I was shit scared of rats and there must be rats here – surely. Wide eyes stared into the blackness and my ears strained. At least it was outside.
What happened next was so terrifying that I froze. The door opened, a shadow came in and it quickly closed again. If I had not been awake, it would not have woken me, that’s how quiet he was. I lay there not knowing what to do. He stood by the door for a bit letting his eyes adjust I’m sure.
In my head I was screaming at myself to move but I couldn’t. I heard him scuffling through our things. “He wants money?” I thought relieved. But then felt the anger seep in. We had some money on us but it’s all we had. If he took that we couldn’t even make it to granny’s. I had to do something. But what? I wouldn’t endanger any of us for the money but couldn’t allow this asshole to just take it from us. We had come this far and I was done with fear…
Jumping up, I screamed into his direction “GET OUT… get out!”
My mother dived out of bed and Jamie started to scream. I didn’t see the punch until it hit my jaw – sending me flying back onto the bed. I landed on poor Jamie who started to scream louder. My mother turned and put the bathroom light on. Sitting up I saw the soft yellow light pool across the beds and just showing the perv’s face. He was smiling, obviously not intimidated by 2 woman and a little boy.
“Take what you want and leave” my mother’s voice was shaking in fear and anger.
“Oh I will. Where’s your money bitch?”
Mother turned to get her purse which was under the bed. In a second he was on top of her. He pulled the purse from her hand, pinning her down with his weight. The total panic on her face smacked me into action. I grabbed the metal coat stand from the corner and charged the perv with it, taking him by surprise. He grunted as it hit him in the chest and sent him flying backwards.
My mother now free, grabbed the lamp off the table and whacked him through the face. His jaw opened up like a bloody smile as the broken glass ran across it. His hand flew to his face and came away covered in blood. His eyes bulged in fear and shock. He expected zero resistance. Mother lunged again, this time hitting him on the back of the head. Picking up the stand I hit him again making contact with the hand he put up to defend himself. I heard bone crunch. Jamie screamed and screamed. The perv dropped the purse and nursed his broken hand.
“Get out” I screamed “Or I will kill you. No more fear”
Mother stepped back to allow him to move she held the lamp in front of her ready to use again if he even looked at her.
He crawled to the door on his knees dripping blood onto the carpet. I opened the door and let him crawl out kicking him in the ass as he went past. Door locked I feel against the door looking back at the room.
Jamie now silent was sitting up in bed, pale and terrified. My mother was shaking so much she dropped the lamp which now lay in ruins and covered in blood. I ran to her. “Its ok. Its ok.” I crooned. “Its over.’’ I held her while she sobbed. I felt the fear, anger and hatred leaving her body as she cried it out. Years of abuse, fear and anger left her body streaming away with the tears and I cried with her. Little Jamie joined us. We sat huddled on the floor for ages, healing and growing.
The next morning we cleaned up as much as we could, packed and left early.
The air was fresh, the sunshine warm and clean. I could feel the hope filling my soul again. No more fear.