Her ears were ringing hard from the blows; we watched in horror as the neighborhood stood behind us, everyone was standing there, watching. No one helped her up as she struggled, as my sister wailed and screamed, they whispered that perhaps she deserved it. She was the other woman to start with, everyone knew that.
She was gone for a long time afterwards. Children have a funny way of blocking out the noise, and questions are rarely answered when you’re that young. Our toys took the brunt; we chopped off our dolls’ hairs, and caved their faces in, we scribbled hard over their bodies until our fingers bled. Our escape was the great hill across the street, fenced in and overlooking the entire town. We used to build mud pies there and dream of the possibilities. We would grow up and be fabulous. This wasn’t going to be our future.
Every day, the morning sun found a different woman in his bed; as constant and ever changing as the hours he was never without a woman. Some were pleasant and prepared our breakfast before going school, but they never stuck around long enough to know that my sister drank her milk warm and I preferred it cold.
When you live on an island you notice that leaves don’t ever change colors. Whereas in some places the passage of time is marked by weather patterns, there, it was marked by holiday lights and changing school uniforms. Time passed and we kept waiting and waiting, waiting for the holidays to bring her back, waiting for an aunt to call her home, waiting by the door for her. Time passed but she never did come back. The aunt that took me in was devout; she prayed zealously for our souls, and habitually woke me up while it was dark out, so that I could attend service and pray too. It was nice to see the others there, my sisters in their long itchy skirts, colors too dark for the tropical heat.
They ended up marrying men like him. Patterns and cycles are like the weather on that island. Leaves don’t change color and storms are always expected. You can predict a relationship as accurately as you can predict the coming hurricane.
Now their children ask the same questions I did. Why do you keep falling in love with an abuser? Why do you keep doing this to us?