I jumped from my bed and crouched on the floor my arms folded around my head like fragile armor. My eyes searched the dark frantically for my enemy. Finally, I saw it. I saw the apparition of the monster – my father! His cruel eyes shone black and glittered with hate. I waited, my breath ragged, for the noise. My body quivered with fear and anticipation. Terror consumed my soul as panic shot through my body. I waited for it to begin. My heart thudded against my ribcage. I placed my hand on my chest to keep it from exploding. I didn’t want to be discovered.
A sharp noise - the slap! The noise echoed in the room. My face dug into the floor as I tried to escape the sound of my enemy and his havoc. My brain emptied conscious thought as my sympathetic nervous system took charge and prepared my tiny body for action.
A second smack and a cry of pain. I heard bones crack. I felt a thousand eyes watch me. They scrutinized my every move. I was frightened, as terrified and panicked as I’d been years ago when I was three years old. The slap and splintered bones that shattered my life forever over 35 years ago.
I felt a wisp of air touch my cheek as a large hand sliced through the air and separated the molecules. Another slap! I heard bones crack. The victim whimpered. The sob became a quiet moan.
My mother lay crumpled like a broken doll as she cried softly on the floor near me. Her breathing sounded funny. My mother’s cheeks glistened with blood and tears. Her broken nose destroyed the symmetry of her beautiful face. Her long blonde hair was matted with blood. Radcliff-educated Melody Fitzpatrick, the daughter of a famous American diplomat, was a mass of crumpled flesh, blood and bones. My mother had fallen in love with a monster who now assaulted her body and mind, blinded by the love that only comes once in a lifetime.
Of course, he wasn’t a monster when my mother married him – that came later when he became a jihadi terrorist, filled with hate for all things Western, including his once-devoted wife.
I lay helpless for an eternity. I felt the sweat dry and evaporate from my body. I opened my eyes. It was dawn. I was at home, in my apartment, safe and sound in the outskirts of Washington DC. I was safe.
At least for now
Excerpt from Shutter Proof by Judith Lucci
No Longer Available
Do No Harm