The Green House

It’s a green house in balmy Florida. The paint is old and chipping and the color makes it fade into its surroundings. Odd for a building that stands to strikingly in my memory. The floors are real wood and in some places nails protrude from the floor boards, waiting hungrily to impale the next unlucky foot to pass by. I knew where all those hungry nails were and how to avoid their reach.

Cockroaches hide in the corners of the kitchen and somewhere down a hallway, my room still exists. A European style bed frame with pink roses embossed into the cold white metal. A bed I was once ducktaped to for upsetting my mother. She didn’t do the ducktapping, but I find sometimes I find myself wishing she would have stopped sobbing long enough to save me. Save me from the monster we lived with.

I don’t remember much about that house. But the memories that live inside it are vivid, although perhaps dream-like after so many years… or, more aptly, nightmarish. Scenes that I’m sure have exaggerated and warped over time – or at least I hope they have. Because it scares me to ponder the possibility that they may be rooted more in reality than fantasy.

The pungent aroma of ozone, metal air, searing my nostrils as I try not to pull away. If I pull away my punishment will only multiply. The feel of hot tears running down my cheeks as I beg him to stop. Mom has told me that this is to help my thump, but all I know is that it hurts and its always my punishment when I’m bad. Bad being relative because it doesn’t matter if I tell the truth or if I didn’t do what they claim. I’m always at fault. That’s why I started lying in the first place. Cause it didn’t matter if I told the truth. And if I lied, maybe I wouldn’t get punished. Soon, lying became one of the motivations for my punishment.

This all sounds scary and harsh and cruel, even to my own ears, and honestly it was. But the sadness, grief, and uncertainly in my mother’s eyes still haunts me. She couldn’t bear to see me in pain or being punished. But she didn’t know what else to do. She was just as lost as I was in that old green house with its peeling paint and hungry nails.