This is how my heart was broken.
February 11 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”
A little girl. With Alice-in-Wonderland hair, long, thick, blonde and wavy. I’m how old? Around 10?
I’m walking home from school. Following the road gently winding up the hill where we live. We kids always take the short cut cutting through a hillside of dirt and weeds.
The afternoon is warm and sunny. I’m by myself. I’m approaching the house. The black mailbox at the end of the long sloping driveway announces the location of our house.
I feel sick. Worse than sick. I am heartbroken. My home is different, starting this afternoon. There is one less member, starting today. There is an absence, starting today. There is a void, starting today. It is a void that will not be filled, starting today. A hole in my home and a hole in my heart that starts today and will last forever.
Daisy. She is my calico cat. My first pet. I adopted her, with my parents’ permission, from Andrea’s cat. Andrea lives next door. My parents’ permission really means by father’s permission. My mother’s a doormat. She rarely stands up to him, even when he’s wrong or being mean and cruel. Once she stood there watching while he beat me in the kitchen. I can still see her standing there in the corner by the kitchen sink, saying nothing, doing nothing, just watching, watching her child be hit over and over by her husband, my daddy.
Daisy. I love her. I take care of her. I am responsible. My parents, which means my dad, insisted that they will not be responsible. They will not feed her and other things like that. The cat will be my responsibility. My dad did not waver from that. If I didn’t feed Daisy, then she didn’t get fed. No one, not my mother or my sister and certainly not my father would feed her. My father pounded responsibility into me and into us all harshly. (To this day, I am overly responsible and don’t know enough about play and fun.)
I do love Daisy. I love her name and I love taking care of her. I nurture her. She is my pet and my friend. I talk to Daisy in my mind. Maybe I talk to her out loud sometimes too. I don’t remember. If I do, I do it privately. I don’t like people, especially my family and most of all my dad, making fun of me for talking to “a stupid animal.”
Daisy is outside sometimes. She has kittens. She isn’t fixed. She has more than one litter. I don’t remember how many he has. Two maybe. It doesn’t matter. Every litter, I give the kittens away. It is not easy. Most people don’t want kittens, even if they’re free. I work very hard to find them homes. I succeed, in time, but it is a nail-biter and hard on my nerves.
My father has had it with my cat having kittens. I don’t think he hates Daisy specifically. I think he hates cats.
One day daddy gives me two choices. When he gives two choices, you listen. He is so stern and sharp and decisiveness and mean. You cannot talk to him. He does not negotiate or listen even. It is his way or no way.
That one day he gives me two choices. He gives a 10-year-old girl and his daughter two choices. The first is, from now on, if I cannot give away any more kittens from Daisy, I will have to shoot them myself. (My dad has a rifle and other guns too.) My second choice is he will shoot Daisy. He will take her into the hill where we live and shoot her. This will “spare” me from having to shoot her kittens.
I am walking home from school. The afternoon is warm and sunny. I’m approaching the house. The black mailbox at the end of the long sloping driveway announces the location of our house. The house is void of Daisy.
If I cried, I don’t remember. I might have buried my tears with all the rest from traumas. I probably did cry a lot and in private. What happened is never talked about. (My sister didn’t know for many many years what happened until I told her. She just knew that suddenly Daisy wasn’t there anymore.)
My life in the home goes on as it always had. Filled with pain, anguish, wars, loud wars, silent wars, fighting, shouting, hurt, neglect and more. Nothing changes. Except on that afternoon, when I came home to a home without my friend, without Daisy. She lies dead in the hills, a bullet to her head or her heart from my daddy. It is how my heart is broken.