It wasn’t your fault. You look at yourself in the mirror and see your tear-stained cheeks. Your red eyes look back out at you and you lose yourself in them, swimming desperately as their still ponds down you with tears.
“Stop hammering at the door,” you yell at him. “Stop hammering.”
“Open the door,” he shouts, stammering in his rage. “Open this door.”
Thank God you locked it is what you think. Thank heavens you kept the key. And here it is in your hand, so it can’t fall down to floor and be hooked away, under the door, so that he can open the door and come at you again. He is shaking the door handle now, rattling it, shaking it like he said he’d shake you.
“I’ll shake you till your teeth rattle,” that’s what he said. And you know he meant it. You could see it in his eyes. You were just too quick for him. That’s all. Just too quick. He raised his walking stick to beat you and you slipped away, in a flash. Just like that. He was too slow to catch you. His one chance came in the kitchen. Once you were out of there, out of that trap, you were up the stairs, into your bedroom. You shut the door, slammed it shut, and turned the key in the lock. Then you relaxed for just a second and that was enough to set you crying. Thick, heavy tears ran down your cheeks. Sobs shook your chest and rattled your bones. You heard him clumping up the stairs, one foot at a time. Clump. Clump. Then he was at the door again. A big, bad wolf, huffing and puffing.
“Open this door,” he shouted. “You wicked child.”
“I’m not wicked,” you said.
“Wicked,” he shouted. “Wicked. Just like your father. You should never have been born.”
You placed the bedroom chair against the door, just under the door handle. Then you wedged your father’s sandal under the door.
Earlier, down in the kitchen, you had taken the bread knife and started to cut the bread. But the knife was blunt. So you sharpened it, scraping it up and down against another knife blade, like you’d seen your dad doing. Trying to make it sharp. Then you started to cut the bread. And that’s when he appeared screaming at you.
“Put that knife down.”
“Why? You asked.
“Because I’m telling you to.”
“That’s not a very good reason,” you said.
“You cheeky girl. I’ll shake you till your teeth rattle.” That’s what he said. And then he raised his stick. Red in the face, he was going to hit you. He wanted to hit you with his stick. Only he couldn’t. You were too quick. You went left, then right, then ducked under his outstretched arm as he lost his balance. You ran into the corridor and up the stairs. You hear him now puffing outside the locked door.
“Open this door now, you wicked child.”
You move away from the door and move to the window. No escape there. You’re on the second floor. No way down. Where’s dad, you wonder. Where’s my dad? He went out shopping. Said he’d be back soon. Where is he? You hear the old wolf as he keeps huffing and puffing, pounding at the door.
“You’ll never come to my house again,” he screams.
“I don’t want to, grampy,” you scream back. “I hate you.”
“You wicked girl. You’re worse than your father, you wicked girl.”
Just then, you hear the front door open. The old wolf backs away from the door. You feel a release, a wave of comfort sweeps over you.
“Dad,” you shout. “Dad.”
“She’s wicked,” you hear your grampy say. “Wicked. You have to beat her. Chastise her. Drive the devil out from her soul.”
“What on earth are you on about?” your father asks. “What’s happening here? Look, go down to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. I’ll talk to the little one and try and make some sense out of this.”
“Wicked. She’s never coming to my house again.”
Clump. Clump. You hear his footsteps fade away on the stairs.
“Has he gone?”
“Yes. You can come out now.”
You remove the sandal, you turn the key in the lock, you open the door, you jump into your father’s arms ….
“Daddy, daddy …”
“Now tell me what happened.”
“It was all his fault,” you say. “Daddy, I didn’t do anything. It was all his fault. He tried to beat me with his stick. He told me he’d shake me till my teeth rattled. I was so frightened. It wasn’t my fault, dad. Honest. It wasn’t my fault.”