Today, a student of mine commented, "Mista, what were your parents like? I bet they made you eat at the table with manners, and force you into conversation. No wonder you sound so much like white people."
My mother and I are eating dinner in the kitchen. The TV is on: I'm watching The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and thinking how fucking cool it would be if I had a magical flute that could awaken a giant green mechanized dragon and do my bidding. My mother is sitting next to me, lost in thought and drinking her tea, as always. I'm eating homemade pasta with marinara sauce. The baby monitor is on next to me.
My younger brother is asleep in his crib upstairs. I was nine when he was born, so I took care of him as often as I played with him.
Suddenly, my mom and I hear the garage door open from the kitchen. It's my dad.
It's also Saturday evening.
There's only one place he could be coming back from on a Saturday evening: the liquor store. In fact, he probably started his conversation with Jack Daniels early in the parking lot and has now driven home drunk. Of course, I could be wrong. I'm only ten.
"Oh. I see. Mother and son sitting together. How nice," my father slurs as he stumbles in. I was right.
"Do you want something to eat?" my mother asks innocently.
"No, bitch. I'd never eat anything cooked with your hands you motherfucking cunt. How dare you fucking even use the food in this house?"
"Hey... It's Saturday night, why don't we put on a movie downstairs in the family room? With the surround sound and everything?" my mother deflects.
On TV, I'm hoping the Green Ranger can slay this monster down. In life, I'm worried my dad's voice will wake my brother up, so I bring my food upstairs to my room and turn on my own TV, but keep the volume low. I wonder if I'll be sleeping tonight. I also check to make sure my door's lock works: it was just replaced after being broken.
"You motherfucker, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE BITCH!" I hear something shatter, and suddenly the baby monitor comes alive. I bring my brother to my room and close the door enough so I can peek and scope out the battle scene: it sounds like someone broke a glass. I can hear my mom pleading to let us rest tonight. The vase on top of the cabinet next to the microwave is missing. Bingo.
I turn around and hold my brother in my arms. But really I'm just covering his ears. This will be over soon little buddy. He's bound to pass out. Then we can pretend nothing happened tomorrow.
I hear a loud THUD and then screaming. My name. My mom.
I put my brother down and run downstairs to see my dad choking my mom. Everything is in slow motion, but I remember jumping on top of his back and swinging away, punching as hard as I can on his neck, ears, shoulders, whatever I can find.
My mom breaks away with my dad's attention drawn. He swings me off by flipping me over his back.
After what seemed to be a few seconds, I realize I had been on the ground for ten minutes blacked out. I had landed on my head.