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I Have To Wonder What The Hell Some People Were Thinking...

When I was 11, my adoptive mother's (A M) sister left her husband. She was terrified that he would kill her if he found her. I had never seen this man drunk and mad, and I hoped I never did.

She rented a trailer in the same park as ours and it was taking several days for the electricity to be turned on. She was afraid to be at our place or other relatives, as he knew where we all lived. My A. M. would usually drop her husband off at work at 3:00 PM, then go to her mother's home in Virginia until time to pick her husband back up at 11:00 PM. I had always gone with her. But now, with her sister afraid to go to her mother's. I was left behind to keep her company.

Before dark wasn't so bad, but once the sun went down, it was absolutely terrifying. There were no lights, or TV, or even a radio. The silence was deafening. We would lie in a bed in the very back of the house, talking in whispers, our hearts racing at every sound of a car going past. Having not been long escaped from a life with an alcoholic stepfather, that would hunt us down with a gun as we hid in a cornfield, I was somewhat used to this. But it was still scary.

She would tell me stories about when she was little. Stories of her rooster named Huckleberry and of a broken, dirty, doll that she cleaned up and made clothes for, only to have to give it to her sister, who hadn't wanted it at first. This helped pass the time. But I recall doing the mental math of how long it would take for A. M. to drop her husband off, go to her moms, pick him up, then drive back home. I wondered if A. M. was worried about us. It was at least 8 long hours and it was mental torture. I would fade in and out of sleep, praying that this drunken man didn't come and kill us, if we dozed off and missed hearing him come in.

 Eventually, her son moved in with her and took over "guard duty" and I was relieved. I often wonder if she ever thinks about that scared little kid that stayed with her in the dark, keeping her from being all alone. Many, many years later, this same man remarried and eventually shot his wife and then himself. I know that it could have just as easily been A. M.'s sister and me that were killed. I wonder if A.M. ever thinks about that.

Mostly I wonder why she left me there, in danger, for all those hours. I mean, the trip to her mother's house each day was not necessary, especially considering the circumstances. I was just a little kid. I couldn't have protected her sister. Not to mention that no kid should ever be left in fear like that for hours on end. Later on, she took me door to door and tried to give me away. Maybe she was hoping I would get shot and save her the gas...
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