{August 30, 2012}   Knee Socks and Panty Hose

When I was in the eighth grade, I was placed in an advanced math class. I didn’t think I was that great at math, but I understood the steps to solve for x. Sometimes I took random guesses that turned out to be right. I had to pay close attention in class and I spent a lot of time on homework just to keep up. In class, I sat near Nancy Brunner, Kathy Stewart and Julie North, three of the smartest girls in the school. We would talk before class started and I liked being included in their group.  Nancy was the leader and social planner. As weeks went by, she started inviting me to their sleepovers and afternoon movies. Even though I felt like the odd man out, I started to feel part of this group. It had been a long time since I had a group of friends; I had been on restriction since the seventh grade. Restriction meant never going anywhere with friends. I spent every night alone in my room, occasionally coming out to watch TV in the den. I was finally getting invited to do things with girls my own age.

One day before class started Nancy announced that tomorrow, our group would wear hose to school. It wasn’t odd for Nancy to choose something for us to do. One day she said we should wear blue. Another day, knee socks and saddle oxfords. Tomorrow, it would be hose. But that posed a problem for me. I wasn’t allowed to wear hose unless it was to church. I had a pair of white fishnet hose that I had worn to school, but I had outgrown them. I had to wear knee socks to school and I knew I’d never get permission to wear hose. But I couldn’t show up at math class wearing knee socks on hose day!

I made a plan to wear knee socks in the morning as usual. In my straw handbag, I would hide a pair of pantyhose. I would change into the hose in the girl’s bathroom once I got to school. Then, I would change back into the knee socks before I went home.

I came to breakfast in knee socks. I put my straw bag with the pantyhose next to my books on the counter. I ate my bowl of cereal fast. I wanted to make my getaway to the bus stop so I could relax. What if Mother opened my bag? Every time I took a bite of cereal, I looked at my bag. If Mother got near the bag, I jumped. It was risky but I had to follow through with my plan. My social standing was at stake.

I finished my cereal, put the bowl in the sink and picked up my books and handbag from the counter. Mother grabbed my arm. “What is in your bag?” she asked. “Nothing” I said. “Let me see!” Mother snatched the bag off my arm. She flipped the lock, opened the bag and rifled through it. She saw the pantyhose, but it didn’t  seem to register with her. She didn’t say, “Aha!” Mother didn’t  know what she was looking for. She dumped everything in my bag onto the counter, my brush, compact powder, nail file and aspirin. “See, I don’t have anything in there” I said. Then Mother grabbed the bottle of aspirin. She opened the bottle and dumped the aspirins on the counter. “Drugs!” she screamed. “You’re hiding drugs in your bag!” “Those aren’t drugs!” I screamed back. “They’re aspirin!” “I’ll show you to carry drugs around!” Mother screamed. She pulled me by my hair through the den, down the hall and into my bedroom. She shoved me down on the bed and left for the bedroom where Daddy was still sleeping.  Daddy always curled his belt around his keys, wallet and change like a snake. Mother came back to my room swinging the belt. She slammed the door behind her. “I’ll teach you to carry around drugs!” she screamed. She pushed me onto my stomach on the bed and started whipping my legs and back. She whipped me, over and over. I screamed for her to stop but she was out of control. Every time I tried to get up off the bed, she shoved me back down. She lashed me hard and screamed, “I’ll teach you to hide drugs in your purse!”  I screamed, “No!” and “Stop!” every time she pounded my legs and back. When I tried to get up on my hands and knees, she shoved the middle of my back.  “Please!” I screamed. She stopped. For a second, I thought the beating was over. I curled up on my stomach and whimpered; sticky hair covered my face. But, mother wasn’t finished. She looped the belt around my neck. She pulled the belt through the belt buckle, bent over me, and tightened the belt around my throat. She pulled the belt tighter. I couldn’t breath.  I got up on my hands and knees on the bed and grabbed at the belt around my throat and tried to loosen it. She pulled tighter. Mother was strangling me. I couldn’t loosen her grip. Then the door opened. Daddy stood in the doorway. “She’s had enough,” he said.  Mother loosened the belt around my throat. I was coughing, trying to catch my breath. She pulled the belt over my head and threw it on the bed. “Get up” she hissed. “Get up and get to school. And you’d better not miss that bus!”

I peeled myself off the bed and ran down the hall. Mother was on my heels. “You’d better run!” she yelled. “You’d better make that bus. If you miss the bus and I have to drive you to school, I’m gonna beat you again.”

I shoved what was on the counter it into my bag. I grabbed my books and ran out the door, down the driveway.  Janet and Ginger were still waiting for the school bus. The bus is late today! I was relieved that I didn’t miss the bus. I was crying and shaking when I walked up. “What’s the matter?” Janet asked. I looked down at my socks. One sock was down to my ankle, the other just up to my calf. I was disheveled and exhausted. I didn’t want to talk about what happened, but I had to explain. “Mother beat me this morning when I tried to wear hose to school” I said. “She tried to choke me with the belt.” Ginger and Janet looked at each other. They looked at my red striped, bluing legs. My throat hurt. It had a belt stripe across my throat where the belt was wrapped. Ginger said, “Wow, your mother is so mean.” Janet shook her head. “I’m so sorry, Lynn.”   Janet turned in the direction of my house and flipped a bird at Mother.

When I got home from school that afternoon, my little sister came in my room. She said that she and my brother heard what Mother did that morning. She told me heard  horrible screams coming from my room. She was so scared that she went into my brother’s room to hide with him. They huddled together and counted how many times Mother pounded me with the belt. She said they counted twenty-five times.


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