{August 21, 2012}   Horses Really Do Like Cough Drops

My best friend growing up was Jamie Goddard. I knew Jamie in the third grade, when we lived in the city. It was luck that her family moved to a house on my street after we moved. We found each other in sixth grade and were friends again. Jamie was fun to hang around with. She always had a new joke and she could laugh like Woody Woodpecker. We drove our sixth grade teacher, Mr. Driftwell, crazy. When he yelled at the class, his face would get red and swell like a ripe tomato. A couple of times I thought I saw steam shooting out of his ears. Just when the whole class was cowering, Jamie would let loose her woodpecker laugh. Then I would laugh. Mr. Drifwell got so mad at us, his fingers would flutter like wild birds being attacked. After sixth grade was over, Jamie was shopping with mother at Sears for a new stove, and Mr. Driftwell  came up to see if they needed help. He said he made the decision to give up teaching. He said that being a Sears salesman was a better job.

Jamie and I were flipping through Sixteen magazines one afternoon when she said had an idea for something we could do. She knew about a horse stable just behind our junior high school. She said we could skip homeroom and go feed the horses. I had never seen real horses, so I thought it was a good idea. Our plan was to feed the horses then go to the office for a note explaining that we were late to class because we woke up late. We would meet at my locker in the morning. While everybody was scrambling to class after the homeroom bell, we would run across the baseball field to the woods behind the school. I said I’d bring some bread and carrots.

The next morning we met at my locker. I forgot to bring the bread and carrots, but we had enough time to make it to the school store to see what snacks we could buy. All they had was Luden’s Cough Drops. We stocked up on cough drops and headed to the back door.

We heard the homeroom bell as we ran across the field. No teacher ran after us or yelled for us to stop. We made it! We found the trail and, just like Jamie said, there was a horse barn. Inside the stable were two horses, one solid brown and one spotted. We pet their heads and held our hands flat for the horses to lap up cherry-flavored cough drops. But it wasn’t long before we heard footsteps. I spotted the balding head of Mr. Norman, the assistant principal, walking up the trail. We dropped to our knees in some tall weeds and held still.

A black polished shoe appeared where I was crouched in the weeds. Mr. Norman’s shoe. “What are you girls doing?” he asked, looking down through thick black framed glasses. I stood up. An excuse leapt into my head. “I was, um, looking for a ring I lost yesterday. Jamie’s helping me look for it.” Jamie stood up. Mr. Norman didn’t say anything He just shook his head. We were caught. No use making any more excuses. “Come with me,” he said. Oh, no, I thought. This is going to be bad.

We followed Mr. Norman to the principal’s office. Mr. Hatchet looked angry. “We’re calling your parents to pick you up. You girls are suspended for the rest of the day.” Mr. Hatchet’s secretary was calling my mother. I felt a pain in my stomach. Jamie and I sat in chairs side by side and didn’t look at each other.

It wasn’t long before Jamie’s mother came into the office. Mrs. Goddard sat in a chair next to Jamie. She told Mr. Hatchet that she was sorry that Jamie caused trouble like this. She looked at Jamie and said, “I’m disappointed in you.” I felt calmer. Maybe my mother would do that. The nightmare would be over. Then, my mother walked through the door. She shot me a look that sent shivers of dread over me. She said, “Let me ask you something, Mr. Hatchet. Were there boys with them in the barn?” Mr. Hatchet looked surprised. Mrs. Goddard glared at Mother. “No, I don’t believe there were any boys involved” Mr. Hatchet said. Mother thanked him and led me out of his office. She didn’t say a word to me on the drive home.

Once we were home, I walked through the kitchen and sat on the couch in the den. “I’m sorry” I said. Mother erupted. “I’m going to teach you” she yelled, grabbing the belt lying on the coffee table. She pushed me flat on the couch, and leapt on me. I buried my face into the cushions and felt the sear of the belt whipping me. With every lash, she screamed “I hate you!” She lashed me over and over. I wailed and rolled off the couch onto the floor like a heap of clothes. She was out of control. She whipped me over and over. No one else was home. I was helpless to stop her. She pulled my hair and screamed into my face, “you were there to meet boys, weren’t you! You’re just a whore!” She let go of my hair and my head hit the floor. She kept lashing me and wouldn’t stop. The room was going dark. I stopped screaming and went limp. I couldn’t feel my body anymore. I was dead weight. Maybe if it registered that she was beating a dead body, she would stop. Finally, she finished and threw the belt at me. I could feel the buckle hit my back.  She yelled, “I hate you!” as she walked through the kitchen. I heard the front door slam. The car started and she drove off.

I couldn’t move. I thought something might be broken this time. I knew that you weren’t supposed to move people who were in car wrecks since it could worsen their injury. I turned my head to the side to cry. No one could hear the horrible sounds inside this house. Not even the neighbors next door. I opened my eyes and stared at the patterns on the floor. The den was dark from clouds moving in. Then, I noticed something shiny on the floor.  I wondered what it was. I didn’t want to move, but I wanted to know what was on the floor. I didn’t think I could move my legs, so used my arms to drag myself over to the shiny thing. I picked it up. It was Mother’s Topaz ring. The gold band of the ring was broken in half. Mother gripped the belt so hard that it broke her gold ring in half. I pulled myself up to sitting and stared at the ring. I ran my finger along the jagged tear in the band. I thought I might give it back to her when she got home. Show her what she did to her own ring. But I knew there was no use doing that. I used a chair to pull myself up to standing. I felt wobbly but I could walk. I grabbed hold of furniture as I made my way to the kitchen. I pulled open the cabinet door under the sink and open threw Mother’s ring in the trashcan as hard as I could.

I wasn’t permitted to be friends with Jamie after that. I ran into Jamie at school and told her about what happened. She said she was sorry. I asked what happened to her once we left the office. She said her mother yelled a little bit, but her mother was more angry about what my mother said in Mr. Hatchet’s office than about what we did. Her mother thought it was appalling that Mother asked if we were there to meet boys. Jamie said that her mother felt sorry for me. She said if she ran into my mother again at the grocery store, she wasn’t going to speak to her. And Mrs. Goddard was a woman who kept her promises.



jreid911 says:

OMG Lynngal. Yours is so much worse than mine. God bless you. You are in my prayers.

lynnygal says:

Thank you, JReid. Before I started writing the stories for my book, I looked for what was out there in articles and stories about mothers who abused their daughters. But nobody’s story of physical abuse was nearly as brutal, and continued as long, as mine. Only Sinead O’Connor’s story about her mother’s abuse comes close. Actually, hers was worse because it also involved starvation. But Sinead wasn’t singled out like I was. Her mother abused all the kids, not just one. Thanks for your support.

Stacey says:

Your mom sounds a lot like mine…I’m sorry Lynn, that you had to face the things that you did. It has taken me years but I FINALLY forgive her. I forgive her but prefer to stay away, that is for the best. Your in my prayers dear friend.

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