Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 5

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 5 – told from a child’s point of view

Bianca has a way of making everyone believe her. She says she always cuts Daddy’s hair and her own, so I agree to let her cut mine after church. I look in the mirror a few times while she works on it, but I don’t like what I see. I think maybe she can fix it and allow her to keep cutting. But when I look in the mirror for the last time, I see that my beautiful, healthy, long dark hair has gone from being about eight inches below my shoulders to a shaggy, cropped mullet. I start crying, put on a painter’s hat, and run out the front door. At first I don’t know where I am going. Since it is only about two miles up the road, I decide to walk to Grandmaw’s.

The first person I see is Aunt Jackie.

“Oh hi, Susanna,” Aunt Jackie says. “I didn’t know that was you. I thought it was a boy walking down the road.”

I cry harder. I know Aunt Jackie doesn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but what she said is true. I do look like a boy. She hugs me, goes inside and tells Grandmaw about it.

“Why did she do that to your pretty hair, honey?” Grandmaw seems sad.

“She said she could cut it like I wanted it,” I tell her.

Uncle Charlie is shaking his head.

“That old bar whore can’t cut hair! She ain’t never went to school for that,” he speaks very loudly.

Grandmaw calls Daddy to come get me. Bianca gives him my things and makes Daddy drive me home alone.

“Your hair doesn’t look that bad,” he tells me.

I keep quiet the whole ride home. Mom is standing outside when we pull up to the house. I say goodbye to Daddy and he leaves.

“What did you do to your hair?” she looks horrified.

“Bianca cut it.”

“I don’t like it,” she frowns. “She should have left your hair alone. Why did you let her do it?”

“I don’t know,” I cry. “She told me she could cut hair. I thought she knew what she was doing.”

“She cuts your father’s hair and look at his!” She is mad. “She doesn’t know what she’s doing! That bitch!”

Mom stomps off to call Bianca and give her a piece of her mind, which usually means saying a few four letter words and mentioning Jesus Christ or God’s hamlet, even though I don’t think they have anything to do with it.

I want to go to school tomorrow, except that I don’t want anyone to see my hair. I pick at my arms, pondering what to do about it and decide that putting it up in pigtails will be the easiest way to hide the awful cut.

unheardcover

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 3

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – as told from a child’s point of view:

Grandmaw got Daddy to go to a big church called Calvary where Aunt Marylou went, and he became born again. That meant that he loved Jesus, who was the only person to show him how Daddy was getting to Heaven. They told me I should be born again too, but I decided that I would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The spirit part scared me, because I thought that God’s son was a ghost. One night I was baptized in a big bathtub at the big Calvary church in front of a big audience. That’s when they handed me a microphone and I told them I love Jesus, even though I wasn’t sure I trusted Him, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t go to Heaven with the rest of my family if I didn’t do exactly as He said in the Bible. I think that water must have been dirty because I got sick a few days later. Maybe it was because my sins were still washing away.

I wasn’t sure I liked the Calvary church because it was boring and they made us read like they did in school instead of color and do crafts like some of the other churches we went to. Besides, they made me feel stupid when I didn’t know what some of the Bible meant.

I stopped liking the Sunday school after they asked us what we knew about Abraham. I raised my hand. I knew all about Abraham from school.

“Abraham was the sixteenth president of the United States!” I proudly announced.

“No,” the teacher scrunched up his face. “We’re talking about Abraham from the Bible.”

I guess he thought I was a dumb kid because he never called on me again. I liked the story about the president Abraham better anyway because he freed the slaves.

unheardcover

Chapter 1 – Excerpt from Unheard: A Memoir

Excerpt from UNHEARD: A Memoir

As soon as I hear the weight of his body touch the first step, I silently but quickly scamper back to my bed, crawl under the covers, and pretend to be asleep. My heart pounding in my chest like a jackhammer, I pray he doesn’t hear me or open my door. I hear his foot reach the third step from the top, the one that annoyingly creaks when anyone touches it, and my body tenses even more. It is difficult to breathe noiselessly, but by now I am used to trying my best to be unheard.

The split second it takes him to reach the top of the stairs and make his way to the bathroom seems like an eternity. I hear the bathroom door shut and feel a sigh of relief; I can breathe again, at least for a short time. I lay watching the second-hand of my electric clock rotate its face. I listen to the clink of the toilet seat hit the cover, the waterfall of beer-urine hitting the toilet water, and the old pipes sucking it all up when the toilet flushes.

Then I hear the elephant. The elephant, as I call it, is the loud air in the old pipes when the sink or shower water runs to the second floor. The elephant stops, and I tense again, knowing he will be coming back out and wondering if he will go back downstairs. Or will he do what he often does and stand in front of my door listening for me to make a wrong move?

The bathroom door opens so quickly it startles me, and I almost gasp for air loud enough to be heard. I watch for his feet near my door, listening intently to determine where he is going. I don’t think he knows I can feel his negative presence on the other side of my door – nor does he realize that I can see the reflection of his feet on the wooden floor. Although they are mostly unexpected, I am aware of his games, and I am not about to let him beat me. I have to be sure that in order to survive his mind games, I need to be two steps ahead of him.

unheardcover