There's a reason I'm doing this in 3 parts. I'm afraid if I didn't, I'd lose you after a while. :) Another story for ya as the 16th anniversary is coming up soon.
The marriage was rocky. Very rocky. Ever since the little girl told her mother of how "Daddy" was touching her in places that felt uncomfortable and the mother confronted him on it; the marriage started
Although the man accepted his wrong doing and apologized to the mother and the little girl, he harbored hatred towards the girl. She betrayed their secret, how DARE she?! Soon after Pandora's Box was opened, the fights intensified. He began to go back on his acknowledgement.
"I just said that because she was standing there!"
"I would NEVER do that to her!"
"She's a little liar!"
But the woman stayed with him. She was tired of working two jobs to support the household. Her son moved out shortly after her marriage, and it left only her 8 year old daughter at home. What would become of her daughter if she was forced to go back to working 18 hour days at two different jobs? With her son gone and no one else at home but her husband, if he were gone; the little girl would have no one. Her ex husband, the little girl's father, was around on weekends, but his hatred towards her seemed to bleed over to his interactions with his daughter; probably because their daughter resembled the mother so much. Of course when the woman looked at her child, she saw her father more than herself. Either way, she refused to ask him for anymore help. It would only make matters worse on her daughter. It was bad enough she didn't have any friends. No, she couldn't leave him. She had to stick it out. Having a roof over their heads was way better than having her daughter grow up without any parent.
Then the woman's husband began to toss them out on the streets in the middle of the night. The fights would get so bad that he would kick them out at 2am or 3am, without allowing them to take a car. She would be forced to wake up her 12 year old daughter in the middle of the night and they would grab what they could and begin to walk the streets of the city, trying to find somewhere to go until the man calmed down. The woman's daughter began to keep a trash bag packed with clothes for the nights she was awaken with news that they had been put out again. The little girl didn't think he mother noticed, but the mother saw. She saw how every time they were put out, the little girl would grab her teddy bear, and throw it in the already packed bag while she slipped on her tennis shoes. It broke her heart every time.
The first few times they went a few blocks to her son's trailer. Her son, frustrated with her refusal to leave the crazy bastard would take them in, but after the 6 or 7th time, she lost count, he finally told her with tears in his eyes that she couldn't come back to him if she was just going to turn around and go back home the next day. He did offer to take his little sister in to live with him. The woman couldn't in good conscience ask her 20 year old child to take in his 12 year old sister. He wasn't finished growing himself, how would he care for her? Granted, at 12 she had experienced and seen more than her fair share of trials and drama, and was mentally much more mature than her 12 years dictated; however, she was still a baby, her mother's baby.
After 2 years of the constant fighting and being put out, the woman finally got the guts to leave the man. Her daughter was 14 years old, old enough to take care of herself. They moved out of the trailer park
and into a small house closer to the school her daughter attended. Her daughter began to make friends, in junior high, and was starting to be less miserable at school. The woman began taking classes at the high school annex in shorthand and computers to enhance her career as a secretary for the police department the next town over. She started towork out and began to lose weight and get into shape instead of allowing depression to wreck her health. Things began looking up.
June 9th, 1994
The woman received a call at her office. It was her estranged husband. He didn’t speak any word but “hello”. She knew it was him though, because right before they got married he had a tracheotomy due to throat cancer and his vocal chords were removed; ever since he spoke with the assistance of a robotic device. His “voice” was distinct and unmistakable. After a few minutes of not having a conversation, the woman disconnected the call. She tried to continue working but there was a nagging feeling that would not leave her alone. Before she realized what she was doing, she picked up the phone and called her ex-husband’s home, where her daughter was visiting for the day. She tried in vain to get her daughter to spend the night with her father, but the daughter’s comfort level with her father was not up to it. She didn’t like to be there any more than she had to because of the crazy bitch her father had been with for about as long as she was with her estranged husband.
“You shouldn’t go home though.” She was telling her daughter.
“Why not?” The daughter inquired.
“I just have a bad feeling that it won’t be safe.” She said.
“Atria?” The daughter spoke the name with a hatred that had been developing since she was 8. She no longer called the man “Daddy” as he requested.
“Yes. I just think we shouldn’t stay home tonight.”
“Can I stay with Leah?” Her daughter asked.
The woman sighed and agreed. They were supposed to go out of town the next day for a weekend at a church camp meeting. They had been looking forward to the weekend since she got rid of Atria. He hated going to the camp, which before him, had been an annual trip. They were both excited to resume the tradition. The woman decided that she would allow her daughter to spend the night with her friend Leah. The woman felt that the danger was only at night, so she thought that the daughter would be safe at home while she was working during the day, and then as soon as she got home, they would leave for their trip.
“Ok Mommy, but you don’t go home either, ok? Go get your change of clothes before you go to Miss Renee’s house and go straight to work. Don’t go home!” The daughter warned her mother.
“I won’t baby. I love you.” The mother said ending the call.
That night, the daughter’s father dropped her with Leah. The woman called from her friend Renee’s house to ensure that the child made it, and also to deliver some bad news. Her oldest daughter was in the hospital in Austin because of a severe asthma attack. They were trying desperately to get her breathing under control, and if they couldn’t, the trip to camp meeting may have to be postponed til the next weekend in favor of at trip to Austin to check on her oldest daughter. The little girl took it well, sounding more worried about her sister than about missing a weekend at Church Camp Meeting. Before hanging up the phone, the little girl admonished her mother again.
“Don’t go home until after work, ok?”
“I won’t baby.” Her mother lied. She knew it was a lie, but she didn’t want to worry her daughter. With all of the stress and drama surrounding her oldest child, she hadn’t had a chance to go home and get work clothes for the next day. She didn’t think there would be any harm with getting dressed at her home the next morning.