Loud, crashing, splintering sound, then broken glass on my face!
Oh Gawd! What’s happening to us?
Franc was crying. Mammy was screaming, “Get up! Get up!”
I was still half asleep. Theresa was shaking my kite-like, little frame. “Ann! Ann! They breakin’ in! Run!”
Franc started to scream. She was in spasms. I knew her mouth was open, but I couldn’t hear anything but a hissing “whoop.” I waited for the next burst of scream. It came, and with it I was lifted out of my bed and rushed out of the room. The last thing I saw in the shadow of the street lamp as I was dragged from the bedroom was a dark boot stepping through the now-broken window pane, into the bedroom, and onto the bed. The owner of the boot was holding a cutlass in his hand. Mammy won’t like that. No shoes allowed in the house!
* * *
“Ah think he went back out,” Theresa whispered, grasping the baby as we all stood trembling together in the safety of living room. “He only want to scare us” she said, pulling the bedroom door shut.
“It’s the two of them,” Mammy shouted-whispered. “Derek wid him!”
I knew who Derek was straight off. He was our landlady’s crazy-hair son who’d run away from the prison. I supposed that the other one was his sister’s mad, criminal husband. Mammy always said, “Them’s dangerous people to get mixed-up with.”
One time Theresa had asked her, “Why you say that?”
Mammy had a very long answer to that. I can’t remember all that she said, but one thing that stood out in my mind was when she explained that the landlady was a dark spirits’ worker, and that people went to her when they wanted to put bad, Obeah spells on someone.
“Ann, you go out the back door and call fuh help,” Mammy instructed me, jerking me back into the terror before us.
“No, doan send her out,” Theresa pleaded. “They still in front there shouting. One of them can easily run under the house and find her on the back steps.”
“No,” Mammy said. “They won’t hurt a child. Go, shout for help. Mr. Barry will come.”
“But yuh said that Derek is a murderer. She can’t…I’ll…I’ll go,” Theresa told her.
“You make the baby keep quiet,” Mammy shouted, and this was no whisper-shout either. “Go,” she said, and she and I crept through the dark kitchen to the back door.
She shoved me out.
Then I heard the bolt click.
* * *
I was screaming before I could hear my own voice. I was wailing and crying, spewing like a volcano – a lava of tears running down my face.
“Help! Help! Somebody please help us!” The louder I screamed the harder I wept. My body wanted to do this so much. My voice was breaking, but it was not because of the shouting. I was crying so hard I could barely say ‘Elp.’ I was exposed and only had moments before the two men walked under the house and came to deal with me.
I almost imagined footsteps getting nearer and nearer, closing in on me. I thought of all the things they could do to me, and I saw my half-grown body chopped up into tiny pieces with the cutlass the person who stepped into the bedroom was holding. A bizarre voice in my head shouted louder than I ever could, ‘But would that be so bad?’
I was shivering in the hot night air, feeling the not so foreign hand of fear take hold of my heart and squeeze and squeeze. I knew my heart was going to spurge its contents all over the hand in seconds. That’ll teach it.
I looked for the men through my tears, while I reasoned with that voice, ‘But see, I am only little.’
‘Is that why I catch yuh thinking of dying?’
‘I don’t want to die, please, I don’t want to die. I’m really only little.’
Heavy tears were streaming down my face when I heard him. He was blowing his whistle through the curtain of the night. It had to be Mr. Barry! By the time he reached our house still dressed in his pyjamas, he had most of the street behind him.
* * *