It all started with a car accident the summer before eighth grade. I’d just turned fourteen the week before, and we were going to celebrate since my father was at a conference that week. He was driving, I can’t remember where, only that we never made it. Instead, when we sailed through a red light, my father screaming that the brakes weren’t working, we were T-boned by a silver Ford F150 truck.
I remember almost everything in that single moment right before the grill of the truck smashed into the passenger side door. The sharp glare of the sunlight glinting across the hood of the truck. The terror filled expression of the ‘poor guy’ driving. The screech of the tires as he tried to stop.
The ‘poor guy’ made it out okay, physically anyway, with slight whiplash and some bruises. I call him that despite him being the one that hit us, because he will live with the horror of what he did, not knowing he was simply a tool for my father. One of many more to follow. Then again, it took me until last night to put the pieces together.
I, however, didn’t make it out of the accident so well. Concussion. Arm broken in two places. Several cracked ribs. Broken tibia, ankle and foot. From the pictures I saw after the jaws of life were used to cut me out of the car, I didn’t look like much more than a bloody hunk of meat and exposed bone.
As far as the doctors were concerned, it was a miracle that no permanent damage was done. My father, when the nurses and doctors weren’t around, didn’t appear nearly as impressed. This should’ve been my first clue, but he’d always been somewhat distant. Cold when others weren’t watching, so I didn’t think much of it-- too hopped up on pain medication, if I’m being completely honest.
He made it out of the accident with barely a scratch. All the damage was to the passenger side of the car. Funny that.
After the accident, the police discovered that our brake lines were cut. It was quite the shock. Who would want to kill the handsome and charming Professor Adelmo Santiago, leading expert on the Occult, and his sweet daughter, Callie? Jealous people, that’s who. Or at least that was what everyone thought when the police couldn’t drum up any leads. No one suspected what’s now painfully obvious to me-- it was my father all along.
Following the car accident, the year was filled with a series of “unlucky” events. There was the time I fell down the stairs into the french doors leading outside. I tripped over a stack of books that had no business being there. After all, my father was a neat freak. Our house looked like a showroom! That fall left me with some serious cuts, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken arm; the same one from the car accident, of course.
Then there was the food poisoning/ severe illness thing that I still don’t fully know what happened. Only that I was running a temperature of 103 and puking my guts out constantly. There were also some near misses with some construction equipment, more car accidents, and falling off the roof. Don’t ask.
I thought I was cursed, and the school thought that I was some attention seeking head case. My father must have gotten quite a laugh over that: being called into the school counselor’s office to have an earnest conversation with me about how I’d been putting myself in harm’s way to gather attention and sympathy. I got in-lunch detention for a week when I told her she was fucking insane if she thought I was doing this on purpose.
Last night, however, my father had enough with the subtle staged brushes with death and decided to go with the direct approach. In the middle of the night, armed with a frighteningly cold expression and a baseball bat, he grabbed me by the hair and dragged me down two flights of stairs to the basement. I screamed, I cried, and I begged him to stop, but he looked at me with dead eyes as he tied me down spread eagle to a cold, steel table.
He tilted his head to the side, his grey eyes taking in my disheveled state in my cartoon kittens pajama shorts and matching tank top, lifted his arms above his head, and began systematically beating the shit out of me with an aluminum baseball bat, starting with my feet and working his way up.
“Don’t you want to live?” he questioned, like it was my fault he had to beat me senseless. “No matter what I do, you keep breaking.”
I wish I could say I told him to fuck off. That I was like the badass women you see in the movies. No, I screamed until my throat was hoarse. I cried to the point I almost suffocated on my own tears, and I begged him to stop. Assured him that I did want to live, but it didn’t deter him.
When he finally finished, I was flickering in and out of consciousness, but one thing was clear; my father was trying to kill me, or at least get damn close to it. As he untied me then carried my limp body back to bed, I vowed I’d find a way to call the police. I’d find some way to get help. My father wouldn’t get away with this!
It’s morning, and I know there will be no one to save me. No one will help me. I stare into the bathroom mirror and laugh in a way that sounds a lot like sobbing.
It all makes sense now.
Looking back at me is a beautiful girl with natural sun kissed skin, eyes the color of overcast skies, long blonde hair that cascades in waves down her back, and not a single scratch, bruise, or broken bone. My father beat me to near death, and now there isn’t any evidence.
Normal people would probably focus on the miracle of it all. At the very least freak the hell out, but all I feel is betrayed by my body. I don’t care why or how I was able to heal overnight, only that all of the evidence was wiped clean.
Cold dread fills my stomach, a painful knowing that this is only the beginning, and my body stole my only way out. I live in a nice home. I have nice clothes. My father is a charming son of a bitch when he isn’t being a psychopath trying to kill me.
“No one will believe me,” I whisper to the picture perfect girl in the mirror. Shit, did my hair get shinier?
I walk out of the bathroom in disgust to find my father standing calmly in the hallway dressed in pressed chinos and a button up shirt. Adrenaline and freezing terror surge through my body, while he makes a slow assessment of my miraculous recovery.
He nods once. “Now, we’re getting somewhere.”
Before I can register his movements, there’s a sickening crunch, followed by intense pain on the right side of my face and a loud ringing in my ears. I collapse to the floor, blood pouring out of my nose. Blackness crowds my vision.
My father grabs my ankle, his other hand holding the bat I didn’t notice earlier, and commences dragging me back down the stairs.
Before I black out, I hear the muffled words, “Now the real work begins.”
Happy birthday to me.