He stood in the bathroom doorway, their 2-year-old on his hip. “Quit being a bitch,” he snarled. “You act like you’re so fucking great, but you’re a fucking dumb bitch!”
She smeared foundation on her face. “Baby, do you want to watch Mickey?”
The little girl squirmed in her father’s arms, trying to get down.
“I can fucking hold her if I want to! Stop trying to get her away from me.”
With a deep breath, she faced him and calmly answered, “If you are going to stand here, while I get ready for work, and yell and scream at me, then no,” she reached for her daughter, “you do not need to be holding her.”Their daughter reached for her.
“Fucking cunt. You’re a fucking cunt. You need to clean this fucking house up!”
She took the child from him and pushed past him to the living room. She turned the channel to Mickey, put the toddler in her bean bag, kissed her forehead, and returned to the bathroom. He followed her every step of the way.
“What the fuck is your problem,” he asked.
She looked up at him. “I am trying to get ready for work. You should be gone already. Please stop trying to ruin my morning.”
He stepped towards her, his face contorting into a mask of rage. His eyes bulged and the vein on his left temple pulsed. “You ruin every fucking day of my life! Just having to look at you ruins my fucking day! Living in this house ruins my fucking day!”
“Please, leave me alone. I will clean it when I get home from work while you sit in the shed, play on your phone, and hang out with your friend, drinking.”
He slammed his fist into the wall. The picture she’d hung there four years before fell from its nail and crashed to the floor. Glass sprayed her legs and spread everywhere across the small bathroom floor.
“Fuck you! You motherfucking cunt!”
She lined her eyes and took one last look in the mirror. “Please stop, I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry,” she whispered. She was doing the best she could to keep herself together.
“You better put some more of that clown make-up on,” he sneered, “Because it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than that for you to look like more than a fucking fat cunt. It’s not my fucking job to clean. I work all fucking day, bitch! Why should I have to come home and fucking help with anything? You’re a fucking filthy slob. You don’t do fucking shit around here but sit on your fucking ass.”
Tears burned her eyes and she opened the medicine cabinet. Pulling out her bottle of anxiety medication, she opened it, popped one in her mouth, turned on the faucet and took enough of a drink to wash the pill down.
She worked full time and was the primary bread-winner. She took excellent care of their daughter and always went above and beyond for his kids, both financially and with her time, effort, and love. She cooked all the meals. Paid all the bills. Did all the laundry and grocery shopping and cleaning. She didn’t understand where she was going wrong. Yes, the house was messy sometimes, but it was never more than just messy. She was just … so tired.
“Awww, am I making you fucking nervous? Fucking pussy bitch.” He laughed to himself as though he’d just told the funniest joke known to man. “Fucking cunt. Why don’t you just fucking take them all. Bet you don’t feel anything then! Must be fucking nice to be able to take those pills whenever you want to!”
She knelt and began picking up the bigger pieces of glass from the floor. She could hear her daughter singing in the other room, happily engrossed in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
“I’m going to fucking work. Make sure you get this shit all cleaned up so the baby doesn’t get hurt. But then, in this fucking hellhole, I’m surprised she hasn’t already died.”
“Have a good day,” she replied.
“Fuck you and your day.” He stormed out of the bathroom and out the back door, slamming it hard behind him.
She exhaled and tried to concentrate on the glass through eyes blurry with tears
“Momma,” a little voice said, “What’s a cunt?”
She looked up and met the little green eyes staring at her. She didn’t have an answer. “It’s a not-very-nice word, Baby.”
“Why did Daddy say a not-very-nice-word to you, Mama?”
With tears pouring down her face, she stood. She swung her baby into her arms and planted a dozen tiny kisses all over her face. “Mama isn’t doing a very good job, SweetPea.”
“Mama, don’t cry. You’re doing a good job to me.”
She gave the child more kisses and held her in a tight hug. “I love you, Sweet Girl.”
“Daddy is mad. Daddy is mad at you, Mama. Will Daddy yell at me if he gets mad at me?”
She held back a sob. Yes. Daddy was mad. Daddy was always mad these days. And Daddy would always attack anyone who got in his way. “It’s okay. Mama just has to clean this up and we’ll get out of here, okay?”
“Okay, Mama.” The child kissed her on the nose and squirmed in her arms. “More Mickey,” she explained. Halfway to the living room, the girl turned back to her mother, “Mama, I help you. I pick up my toys.”
She watched as her daughter ran back into the living room and began putting her toys away. Her heart broke into a million pieces, shattering inside her and spreading a cold numbness throughout her body. Turning back to the task at hand, she cleaned up the large pieces of glass as quickly as she could, then grabbed the vacuum to sweep up the rest.
Her daughter didn’t deserve to grow up this way. A mother constantly cowering in fear; always walking on egg shells; struggling to smile; always apologizing; and never feeling as though she was good enough. A father who was quickly cycling back towards devastating violence; who spoke hatefully and spitefully; who couldn’t remain faithful if his life depended on it; who hated her mother. It wasn’t fair. And in the end, were she to be raised in THIS environment, would she, this beautiful child, in twenty years, be the one standing in her mother’s shoes? Would she learn that THIS was what marriage, a relationship, was supposed to look like? Would she learn to cower, to walk softly and apologize for every thought and action? Would she cry herself to sleep thinking that she was less-than every other woman and man who existed? Would she feel so alone? Unsavable? Would she blame her mother for being so weak? For not protecting her?
Looking in the mirror, she shook her head. Her eyes were swollen and bloodshot, but tear-free. Her makeup was a mess. She looked like she hadn’t slept in days, and in reality, this cycle of his temper had been going on for weeks. She hadn’t slept a good night for a very, very long time.
Over and over, her daughter’s question played in her head. “Mama, what is a cunt.” For the first time, she got angry.
If she didn’t protect her daughter from this kind of future, who would?
She found determination there. Found ONE reason to fight for freedom. Not for herself; never for herself. But, for the beautiful little green-eyed girl with a whole life in front of her.
She would get them out. She didn’t know how. She didn’t know when. But … where she had never been able to protect herself; where she had never had the strength to fight for her own freedom – she WOULD fight for her daughter. If it was the last battle she ever fought, it would be to keep her daughter from witnessing any more of this. No more.
And this was the moment that SuperGirl, the littlest hero of all, saved them both.