When I reached the age of 13, I began developing quite an attitude. At home, I mouthed off plenty. At school, I was always in trouble for talking and I’d become the class clown.
My jokes and saucy attitude were the perfect cover for my shame, guilt and humiliation. I prayed no one would see how defective I was or how embarrassingly nuts my family was.
No longer appearing to be a timid little mouse at school, I’d begun to make a few friends, not that I dared bring them home. Except for Patty.
Another social outcast, she understood how it was to be on the outside looking in. She was aware of some of my “after school” issues with my father and Paul but she liked me anyway and would never tell anyone my Family Secrets.
After school one day, Patty and I were in my room, which I’d inherited from Paul — complete with his chain lock — when he’d built a bedroom for himself in the basement.
I heard him coming in the back door.
“Uh-oh, he’s gonna see your shoes,” I said as I walked across the room and put the chain lock on. Just in time. He delighted in tormenting me and my friends, just because he could.
Thunk! The door opened until the chain stopped it going any further. “Open the door. Open the door!” he yelled, his angry, scowling, face peering through the gap.
“Drop dead!” I yelled back, smug and feeling kind of tough with that lock between us. I wanted him to STAY OUT! THIS MEANS YOU! and finally, I could make it happen.
He stopped arguing and pulled the door closed. Whew. I won. I won!
Beaming, I turned away from the door but seconds later, it burst open and the chain flew across the room, just missing Patty’s face as it sailed past and hit the wall behind her.
Paul stormed in.
Grabbing my friend by the arm, he dragged her through the house and shoved her outside. After chucking her jacket, boots and books out into the snow…