|BWS Stories - Contest Winners|
Contest Winners - Rude Awakening - 1st Runner Up of the Sue Silverman Writing Contest
A Baby Boomer who grew up in the rural
North Carolina and now lives in Georgia, Carole Creekmore is a widow with two
adult children, two charming granddaughters, and a spoiled English Bulldog.
With degrees in English from Wake Forest University, she teaches English,
Creative Writing, and Humanities, writes poetry and prose, and enjoys traveling
Rude Awakening - 1st Runner Up of the Sue Silverman Writing Contest
My 95-pound mother terrified me although I stood several inches taller than her
small frame. Yet, a cornered fifteen-year-old girl with a developing sense of
self and justice can be rash. Tired of her carping about the quality of my
housecleaning while she was out visiting her coffee buddies – as usual, I
blurted out, “Maybe you should clean the kitchen yourself for a change or at
least help if you don't like the way I always do it!”
I had finally stood up to Mother.
There was no time to marvel at my audacity. With a lightening lunge, she grabbed me by both arms, pushed me into the kitchen
wall, and soundly slapped my face. Mother had always been sly before, never
leaving marks for Daddy or anyone else to notice and question. As a child, I
had been her unwilling accomplice in these attacks – sometimes mildly sexual,
more often sudden and angry physical beatings. Broken yardsticks or flyswatters
across my body were common; jerks or punches also worked for her in a pinch. Hitting me on the head or especially the face had always been the one tacit
taboo, the line never approached or crossed.
When she slapped my face though,
time seemed to slow to a creep that muggy July afternoon. The musty, stifling
kitchen still smelled of years of grease; the narrow strips of the kitchen's
dark pine paneling still pressed in ridges into my back. The teapot clock with
spoon and fork hands still ticked away steadily, providing the only sound left
in the room. Everything else was quiet and waiting.
In slow motion, I turned my stinging face to
observe my hand swinging in a wide arc - but stopping suddenly, just short of
returning the blow and slapping Mother's face. Immediately back in reality, I
moved my eyes from my rebel hand hovering by her cheek to look her in the
face. Mother's eyes widened and her mouth made a droopy “O,” startled that I
had automatically reacted to defend myself and return the slap - and even more
surprised that I had stopped myself from slapping her back.
Something had just changed between us
forever, and we both knew it. I consciously chose not to slap her back; I found
the person I wanted to be. Since she seemed locked in place, I looked at her a
few seconds more, stepped away from the kitchen wall, and walked calmly out of
the kitchen without saying a word.
Mother never attacked me again physically
after that afternoon, although she warily blustered and threatened. I had found
strength deep within myself, strength that stopped me from going to where she
was. I did not want to live her way. Since that muggy summer day, I have lived
my life without that crippling choice of violence. Scarred memories and found
values persist to remind me of this choice as I walk my own path.