Ugly

By: Margaret McHeyzer

It’s days like today I wish I was dead.

“Lily Anderson, you get your ugly ass out here right this minute. Don’t make me come after you,” Daddy screams.

He’s so angry. I knew the moment I heard him come home from work I was in for it. I was in my bedroom, lying on the floor trying to do my math. He slammed the front door so hard the windows in my room shook.

And then I knew, I knew I was in for it.

“Lily Anderson!” he yells again.

As soon as I heard him yell I ran to my hiding spot. I’m inside the closet in the hallway, wedged as far into the corner as I can get. Mom’s old coat hangs in front of me and I can still smell a faint waft of the perfume she used to wear.

“Lily Anderson!” he shouts. I can hear the anger in his voice and I can already feel the pain he’s going to inflict on me when he opens the closet door. I know what’s coming.

I close my eyes tight, scrunching them up so no light can seep through. I put my hands over my ears so I can’t hear him.

“I swear to God; if I have to find you, you will not sit for a month.”

My knees are folded into my chest. I’m trying to make myself small, invisible, so he forgets I’m here. I’m rocking myself, trying to block out what he’s saying.

School is safe. School is safe. School is safe. I keep repeating the mantra because in a few short hours I’ll be back at school. Maybe tomorrow I can go to the library after school, stay there until it closes and then sneak in after Dad’s passed out, because he’s had too much to drink.

It was never like this before.

I’m twelve years old and I can remember when Mom, Dad, and I were all happy. But that was years ago. It’s been a long time since there’s been any happiness in this house.

Well, before Mom died, and not a day since.

Mom died when I was nine. I don’t remember much about her, except I remember her telling me how ugly I am. How life would be better if I were taken away from them. How I’ll never be anything, because I’m stupid and ugly.

Sometimes I dream happy things. Like me, Mom, Dad and a little blond-haired boy all going for a picnic. The sun beamed down on us as we played outside and laughed. We’d eat yummy sandwiches Mom made for us, and we’d drink homemade lemonade. We’d spend hours outside, laughing and talking and just having fun. Mom would tell me how pretty I am, and how much she loved me. She would play with my hair, braid it, and then we’d go and pick bright flowers to take home and put in a vase. Dad would smile and call us “his girls”, always kissing Mom and hugging me. Dad would put the little boy on his shoulders and run around the park, trying to catch the clouds.

I love those dreams, and I hold onto them; wishing they were real. But I’ve never had a mom like that, and my dad doesn’t talk much unless it’s with his fists, or to tell me how ugly and useless I am.

I feel him walking around the house. The floorboards creak and the vibrations from his footsteps come through the floor to where my bottom is. I close my eyes tighter and try and breathe as quietly as I can.

Please go away, Daddy. Please go away.

My heart is beating so fast. My hands are shaking and I’m trying really hard not to think about what’s going to happen the minute he opens the closet door.

Shhh, it’s so quiet. The only sound is my heart thrumming in my ears. Nothing else. Not a whisper, not a rattle…nothing.

Maybe Daddy’s left. Maybe he’s gone to the pub to have a few drinks. Maybe, just maybe, he’s left...forever.

I take a deep breath and just relax for a moment. My shoulders drop and I finally stop rocking.

Slowly I take my hands down from my ears, and I’m so happy because I can’t hear him yelling at me. I can’t hear him at all.

Gradually, I begin to unscrunch my eyes from the way I’ve tightly closed them. But something’s not right. There’s light coming into the closet.

I don’t even get a chance to open them fully before a rough hand reaches in, latches onto my ponytail and yanks.

“I told you it’d be worse for you if I had to find you,” Dad says, as he drags me out of the closet by my hair.

I’m desperately trying to hold onto my head so he doesn’t rip my hair out. My feet are trying to find traction on the dirty floorboards.

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