In a crisis torn, South American country, only little Ann's faith, her determination, and one young woman could help keep her dreams of escape alive.

A true story...
Find a synopsis and other details about Sunday’s Child at my confidence blog (linked). Read excerpts here: List of Books on Amazon

The Arthritis Merchant - Excerpt 10

So, I was in trouble again.
Theresa and I had just finished fetching several loads of water and we were worn out. Shop Lady had sold the house with us in it, and she wasn’t fixing anything. The new owner wanted us out so he wasn’t fixing anything either. Esther was away again, food was in short supply, and so were cigarettes.
No, we hadn’t moved.

We had dreamed of change, after all that had happened. In fact we were so close that we would sniff the air and detect a faint tinge of sweet freedom. But it was not to be.
Esther had returned to French Guyane again, as usual, and Theresa was left at home with Franc, as usual. Mammy got angry with me this morning (I won’t say ‘as usual’ again) and I have a feeling she’s still vexed.

It was my turn to button up the cuffs on her shirt. I used to think that it was impossible for someone to do up their own cuffs, until I had my own long sleeve shirts for school and realised that even though I am really awkward, I could do it easily on my own.
Neither Theresa nor I are crazy about doing it when it was our turn, because if you weren’t fast enough, you got a smack on the side of the face. Theresa taught me how to keep my shoulders rounded and my head bowed, while engaged in cuff-tasking, so that if Mammy wanted to swing at me, she would get me on the shoulder and not right smack on the face.

I was just getting ready to hunch my shoulders, but because I was so close to her soft, cold, untouchable body, the nervousness overtook me. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking, and of course, this meant that I took longer to button the cuff - not good.
She swung at me and missed. Luckily, the button went into the hole in that instant and I didn’t have to go near to her again. This is why she was angry.
Maybe it would’ve been better to just let her hit me. After all, having her build up rage because she missed my face, is a lot worse. But you don’t think of things like that when you’re trying to escape pain, do you?

Late this afternoon, while I was sitting in the rocker after we’d lugged in all the water, Mammy walked into the room and screamed, “Yuh trekked mud in the house!” her face twisted with hate. “How many times, ah told you to take your slippers off when you come back from the pumping station.”
“I did take them off.”
“Well, yuh didn’t, coz there’s nasties in me house now. And for that, you’ll pay.”

She took hold of my wrist, bended my arm at the elbow and started pounding it on the wooden arm of the rocker. She said between pounds, “When you” …pound…
“Grow up” …pound…
“You will remember this”…pound…
“And you will”…pound…
“Get arthritis”… pound…
“In your elbows and knees,” …pound…
“And water in”…pound…
“Your joints.”
Then she took hold of my other arm.

It surprises me, though I know I shouldn’t be surprised by Mammy’s cruelty, but I suppose I used to think that her punishments were all about now. You know, to satisfy the throbbing ache of anger and hate she feels here and now. What is this awful sin I committed, that she wants to punish me for even in my old age?

I tried to stiffen my arm but it only took a sudden chop on the inside of my elbow to make my arm collapse. She kept pounding and pounding and just when I thought she would never stop, she did.

I tried to cover my face in my hands but my elbows refused to react. My face found my shoulder and I started to shed my silent tears in it. My heart pulsed into my mouth when a sharp pain caught me in the knee. Mammy had gone to the kitchen and had brought in the beating wood.
She started to hit me on the knees, both knees. I heard, ‘knock, knock’ as she beat me on my knees to ensure my future arthritis, and through the blinding pain I cried, why, why, why.
She commanded me to put my hands on the arms of the rocker and to my disgust, I saw my hands responding, and my elbows reacting to the terror of her, dredged inside my head. Was I mad, was I crazy, or simply a coward?
And in the tornado of my little mind all I could think was, What’s this beating for?
What’s this beating for?
Was it for the mud on the floor, for missing the hit in the face this morning, or just for being me?

She’d begun pounding my hands with the evil wood, when Theresa came in and yanked it from her. She, Theresa, had a deathly look on her face, and for the first time in my life, I was scared of her.
“Enough!” she shouted with tears in her eyes. “Enough!”

Mammy saw the look I did, because she walked away without even trying to get the wood back, and more surprisingly, not even trying to finish off by beating Theresa like yesterday, when she hit her with the big, white enamel cup.
“Get up! Get outta me sight!” She spat.
I did. But there was more to come.


Icy BC said...

I love Theresa for being there to protect you.

I do believe there are guardian angels in our life..

Monique said...

How much beating can a child endure? I grow so angry when I read this Anne, it's just unbelievable how angry I get.

dabrah said...

How cruel. Not only to abuse a child, but to a abuse a child with the stated intention of causing her pain in later life. So vividly written it hurts.

Monique said...

Just passing by to wish you a happy Easter and that episode twelve is posted on Middle Ditch

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

Thanks for your comments everyone, it does help to know that someone reads all this.


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