Beautiful Broken Mess

By: Kimberly Lauren
Broken - 2

- One -

AUDREY - Four years ago…

To say it simply, my life is a broken mess. In the back of my mind, I often wonder if people are given a set number of obstacles they have to overcome before they die. If that were the case, then hopefully I’ve already hit my limit for this lifetime. Because no matter what I do or how I try to live my life, everything seems to come out wrong.

This catastrophe of a life was inevitable though. My parents began the cycle when they decided that getting high and not using condoms would be a stellar idea. As if that wasn’t bad enough, my mom made sure that it stayed a mess when she decided to resume her life of boozing and drugging while pregnant. Luckily, the only side effect resulting from her recklessness was that I was born with a low birth-weight. Her worst decision of all was deciding to keep me when she very well could have given me to a deserving couple, one who would have actually wanted me.

I often find myself daydreaming of what my life would be like now if she had just given me up, like her labor and delivery nurse quietly suggested. Would I live in an actual house? Would I have normal parents who go to normal nine-to-five jobs? Would I have siblings? Or my favorite one of all, would I have a real bed?

Considering the fact that my mom was such a horrifying parent a nurse actually advised her to look into adoption within the first twenty-four hours of delivery, I’m still baffled that they even let her leave with me. She loves to tell me that story too, only she revises it every once in a while by saying I was actually the horrible one, and that it was no wonder the nurse suggested it. But apparently, the enticement of a welfare check convinced my parents to keep me, regardless of the fact that neither of them cares anything about me.

When I was four, I realized that food costs money and I couldn’t wait for the day when I could leave the house and earn some of my own. From time to time I caught a glimpse of what money looked like, but it was usually in a back alley exchange or over the counter of a liquor store. When I was ten, I started mowing lawns and then at fourteen, people in our trailer park allowed me to babysit their children. I knew by then that if I earned my own money I could use it to buy food, which was few and far between at our house. I loved going to school because it was usually the only time I got a real meal.

I’ll never forget the first time I stepped into a grocery store with a pocket full of my own cash. I didn’t realize how the exchange worked, or how much food actually cost. I ended up walking out with only a bag of apples. I loved apples, and the only time I had ever had them was when they served them on occasion with lunch at school.

When the grocery checker informed me I couldn’t afford the apples and the loaf of bread, my decision was easy. I wanted the apples. I was so proud of myself for actually being able to buy food to take home to my parents. I just knew they would smile and maybe… just maybe they would finally praise me.

As I proudly walked through our old, creaky front door, my dad took one look at the bag and asked, “What the hell are those?” At that moment, I should have noticed the slurring of his words or the wobble in his walk, but I didn’t.

So I smiled and replied enthusiastically, “They’re apples. I bought them all by myself.” An intense rage shot across his face and my smile plummeted. Maybe he had misunderstood me.

“You spent money on some damn fruit? How the fuck could you be such an idiot? We don’t need any shitty fruit,” he screamed at me, while ripping the bag from my shaking hands.

Every once in awhile, I think back on that day and every time, it plays like a slow-motion horror movie in my head. I remember watching the bag come toward my face and thinking when the first apple hit that it wasn’t any worse than his fist felt. Then the force of four more apples followed behind, pounding against my flesh, and it was worse -- much, much worse. Whack, Whack, Whack. Whack.

I also remember that I didn’t scream or make a sound. I learned early on that screaming only made the punishment last longer and he was going to do this regardless. I slumped down into my protective position on the floor and tucked in my legs, while trying as best as I could to cover my face. When the fruit wasn’t doing anything besides becoming a sopping wet mess against my body, he then switched over to his fists. I recall him screaming about wasting money and a few other unpleasant terms he created for me.

I lay on the ground and waited for the punishment to end, while fist after fist and a few feet continued their assault. I knew he wouldn’t stop until he’d worn himself out. Wham… my face, Wham… broken rib, Wham… my stomach.