Welcome to day 28 of the Writer’s devotional.  Today I’m supposed to write about the strongest memory I have.  And I have one, very strong and powerful, and I must warn folks that’s not exactly a happy one.

I was always a quite child.  Shy.  It was hard for me to connect with my peers.  As a result I was happier to sit inside with my coloring books than going outside to play with other kids.

I was about five years old, maybe six.  My mum and I were living in an apartment building close to my grandmother.  I remember because whenever my mum needed a babysitter we’d go to grandma’s.  We had to pass two playgrounds and a tennis court to get there.  The first park was one of those new brightly colored plastic ones with several slides and even monkey bars.  The tennis court was right beside it, closed in by a chain link fence.  When the weather was good, it would be filled with men and women in shorts, headbands and sneakers, waving rackets over their heads and swatting balls at each other.  The second park was smaller, made of old wood polished by the hands of countless children, with one slide, one swing, and a teeter totter.  This park belonged to my grandmother’s townhouse complex.

It was just me and my mum in those days, my dad having left when I was a year old.  But my mum was still dating, or at least I assume this, because one of them sticks out in my mind.  If there were others, they’ve faded into memory with the progress of time.  And I only remember him because of what he did.

His name was Micheal.  I was five.  I’m twenty nine this year, but my heart still pounds, my hands still shake, and my chest still gets tight whenever I remember.

It was daytime, but I don’t remember him coming into our apartment, so looking back on it now, he might have spent the night.  Our apartment was a small two bedroom affair.  When you came in the front door, the kitchen was to the left, the living room and dining room spread out before you, the bedrooms to the right with a bathroom at the end of a hallway.   My bedroom was the first one you came across, and the right side of the hall was one long closet, with dark wood paneling and sharp steel lips at the bottom.   I still have the scar on my knee when I fell and skidded into one.

I remember sitting with my crayons and coloring books on the floor in the dining room.  I was facing the wall, and coloring in the picture of a bird.  It was purple.  Purple has always been my favorite color.  I decided to make the feet and beak green, so I was coloring in those.

I don’t remember shat made me do it, but something caught my attention.  I got up and walked to the front door.  I looked down the hallways and saw him and my mom.  She was crying.  He had her up against the bathroom and I remember him slamming her against it as he yelled at her.  I don’t remember what he was yelling.  He had her wrists pinned above her head and he was using her arms as leverage to slam her against the bathroom door.  He hauled on her wrists to pull her away from the door, then slammed her wrists back.

He also must have used his body to push her, or pin her.  I don’t know.  All I remember is her head bouncing off the door, and the sharp cracking noises they made.  Her head, or the door.  Something made that noise.  I also heard the door rattling in its frame and it shook from the force of the blows.

I guess my mom saw me and called out, or I made a noise, because he turned around and saw me too.  He was tall.  Looking back on it now, he must have been about six feet, a bit taller than my mom.  But to a kid that age, he seemed like a giant.  His hair was black in the darkness of the hall.  It must have been brown.

But I remember his eyes.

Dark things that glared at me through his glasses as he beat my mother.  He told me to go back to my books.  At least I think he did.  His mouth moved.  He was looking at me.  He jerked his head in the direction of the dining room.  I can only assume he told me to go, because I did.  I went back to them, sat down, and cried.

I was scared.  Ashamed, even then.  I wanted to do something, anything to make him stop.  But what could a little girl do against a full grown man?  And I was afraid.  I was afraid he’d hurt me too.

I don’t ever remember seeing Micheal before that day.  Or after.

I heard later that my mum had him brought up on charges.  I don’t know what happened to him after that.

I never really cared enough to ask.

By the time I was old enough to talk to my mom about it, any punishment meted out would be long over and pointless discussing.

Besides, he can’t hurt us anymore.

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