Heal Me

We'd run away from home, my little sister and I. We were helpless. Until he came along with his dark, bushy eyebrows and windswept hair. His name was Liam.

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6. Every Tear

 

So I explained.

 

Mum died when Lydia was only a few months old, before she even had a chance to know what a wonderful person mum was. I’d known that the cancer was eating away at her slowly, I heard her praying at night sometimes, begging for a cure. She would never ask on behalf of herself, she knew we wouldn't cope without her. She only stayed strong for us. Hearing her sobbing late into the night while she still lived at home made my heart shatter, these were no crocodile tears; they were heart wrenching sobs. Mum never cried for herself, she only cried for her children and her husband. She once told me that she wasn't scared of dying, she wasn't scared of going to heaven, she was scared we would forget her. That Lydia would never remember her other than from photos up around the house; she was scared Lydia might think that mum had never cared about her. Mum said she was scared I’d only remember her as she was in her last months, pale and sick all the time, that it would impact my education and that she would ruin my whole life. She only worried for us.

 

I wasn't allowed to go to the funeral. Apparently it was a small occasion, just a few of mum’s friends. Dad didn't go either. He spent the whole day in the pub, drinking what little money we had left. After the day of the funeral dad fell into a deep depression. He used to be happy and always smiling, even when he got a little bit cross you could tell he wasn't truly angry. He used to give me piggy backs round the garden when I was little and would tickle me into submission if I refused to eat my vegetables or do homework. He was a good man. But he was torn apart by grief. The father I knew fell into a big black hole forever and disappeared, we were left with this shell of the former man we knew. Suddenly he turned into the evil dragon instead of the knight in shining armour. It tore him apart inside, dad had never known his parents and was adopted when he was young, and mum was the only person who he felt loved him. Imagine. Having only one person love you out of the billions there are on the planet. I don’t feel sorry for him though, we all lost someone we loved. I lost two in the same day. I lost a father and a mother that day that mum died. Dad’s dead on the inside.

 

I was usually shut away in my bedroom with Lydia when mum first passed away, I hated small spaces. They reminded me of being in a coffin, like I was being buried alive and the thought terrified me. I would rock Lydia all day and half of the night most days, dad made me pay for every bottle feed that she was ‘rewarded’ with. He thought she should be disciplined. His rule was that if she made loud noises then she would go without food. It was inhumane. For every bottle feed I had to go through the embarrassing ordeal of begging dad for the milk to be warmed up for her, he made me get down onto my knees and beg every single time Lydia needed fed; but it was worth it for her. I had to promise to do anything he wanted in order for Lydia to be fed, and I did so willingly, my humiliation was nothing compared to Lydia being starved.

 

The abuse really started a few years after mum died, when dad’s adopted family all died in a horrific house fire. He wouldn’t let me go to the funeral; I stayed at home with the baby while he went out and got drunk. When he came home he was properly fuming, I hid Lydia away safely in my room and went downstairs, bracing myself for what was coming next. He beat me and spit on me and kicked me and stabbed me and burned me and did everything imaginable to make me feel like dirt. He would leave me bleeding on the floor while he stumbled back off to the pub to get wasted. I quickly learned how to sort out cuts and burns, how to soothe the pain so it wasn’t totally painful, just mildly.

 

I broke down in tears in front of Liam, sobbing my heart out as I explained everything from the very start of it all. I wept for mum.  I wept for the old father that I used to know. I wept for Lydia. I just wept. It felt like I was crying enough tears to fill an ocean, letting out every single tear I had suppressed in the past and soaking the top of Liam’s shirt as I did so. Strong arms were wrapped around me gently, loose enough so I could get out of it at any point. As I snuffled into Liam’s shirt, not caring if I got it wet or not. I finally felt something I hadn’t felt since before mum had gotten cancer.

 

Safe.

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