I was seven years old. She hit me again, and again and again, all the while screaming, screaming. Spittle flew everywhere and furniture crashed about me. I lay down and covered my head as she beat me again and again with the present that daddy had given me that afternoon. My present. It was smashed now, the head hanging out of a hole in the neck, one arm missing, the dress torn. I noticed this even as she hit me with it again and again and again. I was so small and she was so big. And I didn’t understand what she was saying. She just screamed and screamed and screamed and spat words that were wet on my skin. I didn’t say anything. I knew better. I bit my lip and tasted blood. And screwed up my eyes and waited for it to stop and watched the words and the screams become distant like the noises from the school playground did when I lay in bed at daddy’s house when I couldn’t go to school because I was sick. Bang bang bang on my arms and my head and my legs. And she kicked me and hit me with her fist. Then she grabbed me by my hair and dragged me across the room and up the stairs, shouting and swearing. I fell and she still dragged me backwards up the stairs. The wall, the patterns on the wallpaper, the banisters, the carpet with the shapes in it like fishes all whirled around me. Then she threw me into my room, and hurled my broken toy, the one that daddy had given me, at the wall and locked the door from the outside. I hurt so much on my arm and my head and I could taste blood. I curled up there on the floor and lay there quiet and still with my eyes closed tight and thought of Mrs Poole at school who’d said what a nice little girl I was and how she would love to have a little girl like me, and she smelled nice and was soft and warm and she put flowers in a vase on her desk every day. My present, the one daddy gave me, was all broken now.
Small child memory