Stripping Callum(2)

By: Muriel Garcia

I knew my parents were dead.

I knew I’d never hear them again.

I knew I’d never see them again.

The plane crashed mid-way to its destination. There was a problem with the engine, and the plane crashed into the ocean. There were no survivors.

I was angry at the world. Why did God have to take my parents’ away from me? Was I a bad child? I thought it was a punishment to me because I had been misbehaving. It took my aunt and a child psychiatrist to help me out of my self-loathing period where I was blaming myself for my parents’ death.

My aunt got custody of me, and even though I hated myself and life in general, I was grateful that I was staying with her. She became a second mom to me, and she was amazing at making me feel better.

Unfortunately for her and for me, she never coped with the loss of her sister. She was so concerned with taking care of me and helping me through the emotional grieving process that she never got to grieve, and she started drinking.

In the beginning, I didn’t really notice a difference. She was often sad, but she would be a bit happier at times. That didn’t last long. She was still taking very good care of me and making sure I was a happy child, as much as I could be, but she wasn’t happy. She was putting up a front to make sure I wouldn’t worry about her, but I was. I knew she was crying herself to sleep every night. I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the depression she was slowly falling into, but it was heartbreaking. I didn’t want her to know because I didn’t know how she would react, and I was just a nine-year-old child.

Things were steady for a couple of years. She was still drinking a lot, but she was slowly coming out of her depression. We were doing more things together, and I enjoyed those years. She wasn’t going out at all. She cut everybody out of her life when my parents’ died and devoted her life to me and Jack Daniels.

She really worried me the night of my eleventh birthday. She was on another one of her drunken nights. Everybody had left my birthday party, which was just a dream for any eleven-year-old little girl. Pink stuff everywhere, cake, friends, pool, and a piñata. We’re not Mexican, but what kid doesn’t enjoy a papier-maché figure filled with candies and treats?

At the end of the night as I was going to bed, she pulled me to the patio and sat me next to her on the big double-seated swing.

“Annabella, I want you to promise me something,” she said stroking my strawberry blonde hair.

“What is it, Lili?” I cuddled into her side.

“If I ever try to hurt you, you have to promise me you’ll take what’s in the safe in your bedroom closet and leave without looking back. Go as far away as you can.”

“What do you mean, Lili? I know you’ll never hurt me.” I looked up at her, confused.

“Your grandfather, mine and your mom’s father, was a very mean alcoholic and abusive man. I never drank because I never wanted to end up like him, but I feel like I’m becoming him more and more every day.”

“You’re not. You’re lovely and nice to me.” I took her hand and squeezed it.

“Thank you, baby girl. I just, I hope I’ll never become him, but in the eventuality that I do, please promise me you will leave.” She let go of my hand and stroked my cheek.

“I can’t, Lili.”

“You have to promise.” She squeezed my cheek gently.

“I…I promise.” I swallowed hard and looked at the saddened expression on her face. It’s breaking my heart to see her so sad all the time.

“Thank you, Annabella. The code is your birthday backward. There’s enough in there to hold you some time and get you some place safe.” She sniffled and kissed my forehead.

“I don’t want to leave, Lili.”

“You don’t have to leave, not now. It’s just if I ever hurt you. I’ll never be able to forgive myself if I do.” She broke down crying, and I followed suit.

The prospect of losing the only family I had left was breaking my heart. My aunt was the only person left on my mom’s side of the family, and father’s family disowned him when he decided to marry my mom.

My father was born into a rich family and they had big plans for him, but he fell in love with my mom and fought to be with her. Even when his family threatened to disown him, he never backed down and married her. He didn’t care about losing the privileges that came with the family. He wanted to be happy, and that meant marrying my mom.