[SHORT STORY] Sink or Swim
By Sasky Louison
“One more week,” I comforted myself as I got in the frame of mind to take on the annoying voice that I would be hearing for the rest of the day. “Just one more week.”
“I said get out!” The voice that belonged to my father boomed at me, smashing into my thoughts, my comfort, my place of peace.
It was Sunday. A beautiful Sunday to be exact. Sundays were usually beautiful in St. Lucia and because of its beauty combined with it being a weekend holiday, families usually took the opportunity to spend the day at the beach.
Today was no exception. The water was inviting. The sun shone causing it to have a crystal clear look. The clear blue skies in contrast to the few lily white clouds and huge, shady, deep and lime green trees made the day just seem perfect.
Pigeon Point was a long beach. People on the other end looked as small as ants. Because of the length of the beach and St. Lucians going to other beaches just as beautiful around the island, Pigeon Point Beach was rarely crowded unless there was some kind of special activity.
We were in a secluded area on the beach. Daddy liked that area. There was a big, long, flat, man-made rock, similar to a pier going into the sea where he would park his vehicle. The rock attracted all kinds of fish and though he or any of us hardly caught any, he liked fishing there.
I liked fishing with him sometimes. Daddy could be such fun.
Other times he made you wonder if he was the same person who had you cracking up with laughter a few minutes before. When he was happy, life for everyone was a dream but when he was not, life for everyone was a nightmare.
Although the day was perfect for a sea bath, I just felt like relaxing myself by reading a book. I liked reading and writing. Everyone who spent time with me knew that.
Whenever I started a new novel my fingers would automatically turn into leeches until I reached the explosive climax. I was confident that I would finish the novel before we left the beach to go home but Daddy was not happy today for whatever reason so my plans offended him.
I looked across at my brother swimming and splashing around in the sea water. At the time, he was twelve years old, of rich chocolate complexion. He stood at approximately 5 ft. and he was muscular just like our father. My sister who was 2 years my senior was vacationing in St. Vincent. And here I was. The middle child. My adrenaline began pumping up to fight for my rights. I sighed. It would seem like my sister and brother had escaped our father’s wrath; he hardly had as many issues with them as he had with me. To this day, I do not know why my father treated me the way he did. It would be a bit more understandable to me if everyone got the same treatment but that was not the case. I always won the tossed coin. I was always the one he tortured.
I honestly did not want an argument with my father. I did not have the energy. I was fed up. I was worn out. I just wanted to read my book.
“Daddy I don’t want to bathe. I just want to stay here.” I pleaded softly to him singling out each syllable like I always did when I wanted to ensure that my tone of voice was not mistaken for me being rude. Oh how I wish he would understand and walk away but he just stood, erect like a solider, waiting to pounce when the order to attack was given.
Tears stung my eyes, I had just turned 18 two months ago. Sure! I was more than capable of making my own decision on whether I should read my novel or bathe in the sea. Daddy however did not care if I was 50. He was my father, I lived under his roof and because of that I should do whatever he said.
I glared at him. Oh how I hated him. How I wished he were dead so that everyone’s life would so much smoother, normal and satisfying.
The tears streamed down my face. Oh no! I was not sad. I was pissed the fuck off! I wanted to curse God for giving me such a wicked and ill hearted father. What kind of father got angry because his 18 year old daughter wanted to read a novel instead of bathing in the sea? The novel was not one for grown-ups. I would never dare read a romantic novel in the presence of my dad. I knew what I could and could not do in front of him. Besides, romantic novels never appealed to me.
I silently prayed for God to strike my father dead like a telepathic teenager but he just stood there, his eyes big, waiting for me to obey his pathetic and stupid decision. As usual, God did not answer my prayers.
I turned to my mother for some support. I knew from experience that she would and could do nothing but I tried nevertheless. Perhaps some miracle would occur and she would save me from my misery, just like that little boy.
I saw him in a movie when I was about 10 years old. His step father abused him and his mother. One day she just took him by the hand and they ran away. The further they ran the more they laughed and cried because of their newfound freedom. I always imagined and wished for that joyous day when my mother would just take me by the hand and run away. Far, far, away. I did not care if she had the time to pack my clothes. I did not care if I had no time to say goodbye to my friends. They would understand. I just wanted to go somewhere that no one knew me. There I would start my life fresh. Change my name, change my appearance and my life would change automatically… but it never happened. I was 18 years old and I had figured out by then that it never would.
My mother kept her head straight, like she knew nothing of what was going on. “Mummy!” I cried, waiting hopelessly for a little help from her.
“Sasky, just go. For peace sake.” She pleaded softly. “Just… go.” My heart sank for the millionth time. I cut my eyes viciously at her. That was her reply,
I went to her for relief from my father.
The man they called my father, grabbed the car door open. “The door should break!” I thought. He stretched out his big calloused hand towards me, grabbed me and pulled me out of the vehicle. He pushed me towards the shore. I stumbled, seeing the ground rising to meet my face but I quickly regained my ground. There were other people on the beach but they were a long way from us. They did not seem to notice or pretended not to. I tried to see if I would recognize anyone though my eyes were blurred from tears. I did not. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I cried bitterly as I walked the rest of the way towards the shore. The tears streamed uncontrollably down my face. I heard him ranting and raving in the background.
“You think I am your mother with you? You have to do as I say! When I say move, I mean MOVE! When I say jump, don’t ask me how high… just jump!!! You’re not going to tell me what you will do! Hell no! Not as long I live!”
I ignored him and sat just where the water touched the sand. He was to my right on the pier.
“Go further into the sea!” He shouted. I obediently went further in until the water touched my calves. “Further!” he screamed. I walked until it reached my knees. “Sasky, do not get me sick!” he shouted as he hit the closest thing within his reach. Even though I did not see him see him do it, I heard it echo. When I was not close enough for him to hit me, he would hit the closest thing within his reach.
“I will come there for you Sasky! You know me and you already eh.”
Without looking at him, I knew he was standing, his hands on his waist, waiting for one more reason to slap the day lights out of me. I knew my father. I did not have to look at him to see his actions.
I walked until the water reached just above my waist. “That should shut him up.” I thought to myself. It was hard to keep my balance with the ripples continually coming at me but I stood strong and fought it. I wet my face with the sea water. That way he would not see my tears even though he was a long way off from me. It satisfied him to see me cry.
The tears flowed down my face. I had to wipe them away or else I would not be able to see. The more I wiped the more came. Why? I silently asked God. What have I done? Then I heard my father’s irritating voice one more time.
“Swim!” He ordered. I turned and looked up at him in disbelief. Daddy was actually ordering me to swim?! “Swim and look happy!” He shouted again and starting walking hurriedly towards the shore to come to me. Reluctantly, I began swimming. I did not want him next to me and I sure did not want a fight with him in the water. If I obeyed, he would be satisfied and leave me be. I watched him walk away satisfied with himself.
He went back into the van, sat in the driver’s seat and looked across at me. “Oh look at Sasky,” he began laughing and calling out to my mother and brother. “She is enjoying herself. Look at her swim.” He continued laughing out loud and hitting the dash board. He even hit things whenever he laughed heartily.
My mother and brother ignored him. He did not seem to notice or did not care. He just felt good with himself that he had once again abused his authority and made me upset.
I comforted myself. He thought he won but I knew better. Daddy looked at his short term win but I looked at the long run. I thought of Sunday coming. In 6 days and a few hours, I would be going to Barbados for college and my nightmare would end. He tried to stop me. He tried to scare me from doing it.
But I was determined.
He does not know it yet, but I will never return.
I will protect me.
I will look out for me.
I will fight for me.
I will be my own ride or die chick.
Sasky Louison. SASKY IS A SUPERSTAR. IT’S JUST THAT NO ONE KNOWS IT YET.
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