The Sound of Terror
Tiny hands grip the corner of the wall. Knees slump against the wall, and breath comes out in short bursts, bouncing off of the wall and hitting me in the face. Little whimpers are held back in fear of him hearing, and coming up the stairs.
Don’t look. Don’t. Look.
Ears are stretched out wide like funnels, hoping that sound will pour in like water. I didn’t see them sizing the other up, I didn’t see them fighting, I didn’t see him stand up, I didn’t see him grab her, and I didn’t see him throw her down. But I heard the thud, I heard her yell, and I heard the scream involuntarily rip out of my throat at the last minute.
Eyes locked on the television. Hand reaching to turn the volume up. Yelling keeps getting louder, words get more violent, heart beats faster. A cry of pain and sadness fills the air unexpectedly. Feet force me into the small kitchen, hands wrap around my tiny shoulders and pull me flush against warm skin.
Face to face, at a head, on the edge, confrontation. Eyes can’t look away, world won’t go on mute, tears cascade and create wide and vast oceans at the bottoms of little feet. Nine years old, watching the knife stand against his skin, screams and sobs fill the parentless house, as I beg to not have to call that dreaded three-digit number. Loud clatter of cutlery against counter, feet on floor, and door hitting door frame.
I had never seen two lions facing off before, but I think it would’ve looked like that. Clenched fists, grabbing body parts, struggle. The sounds of struggling as clear as day even now. Struggling to stay on their feet, struggling to take the other down, my struggling breaths.
I still don’t know why I decided to stay down and watch, why I didn’t just go upstairs and plug my ears. Face twisted in rage and monstrosity, as I try to tell him to stop, to let it go. Throat closes up, head goes between knees, eyes are shut. Can’t breathe, can’t see, can’t think, can’t stop them. Her shaking voice fills my ears and the screaming stops. She gets me to breathe again, and he’s just watching us. I remember requesting separation and the desire to make that call. I almost did, but she stopped me.
Going into war when you’re nine and ten is horrible and something that people work very hard to prevent, but what they didn’t know was that they were sending me into war whenever I walked through that door. I wanted to shut my eyes, and sometimes I did. Sometimes I would even take my glasses off so as to not have to see it. But I would always hear them, the screaming, the thuds of bodies on floor, the yells of pain and anger. Unfortunately, I could never take off my ears.
Previously posted here.