Tamika Wood’s Birthday Party

& Other Stories by Le Kendall

2.5 The Woman

Content notes apply to this chapter.


When my children were little, someone hurt them.

She’d hit them and she’d hit them. Until they came to me for comfort.

I don’t know why she did it. Sitting here right now I can’t possibly explain. Because there is no reason that makes sense to me.

I should feel guilty. And of course I wish it hadn’t happened.

I can’t tell you… why. She was angry, obviously. But everyone gets angry and not everyone deliberately hurts children.

Do I feel ashamed? I want to pretend it never happened. Like somehow if no-one mentions it and nobody talks about it then it’s not… real somehow.

Physically they were never seriously injured. No blood. No broken bones. But the fear and terror stayed with them even after it had stopped. They stopped trusting me. I’d let it happen.

I used to tell myself that it could have been much worse. But that doesn’t make it better. That doesn’t make it okay. That just makes it’s not as bad which is true for everything that has ever – or will ever – happen apart from what ever is the single most awful thing that could happen to someone. I don’t think there’s any comfort in that.

But I’m not the one that needs the comfort. I’m not the one who was hurt. She should have hurt me instead, I know that. And sometimes she tried but… it didn’t work. It didn’t give her whatever it was she needed.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I shouldn’t stop thinking about it. Alan Sebastian’s so impenetrable sometimes and back then it was never clear what he did or did not understand. I don’t know if he remembers. Michelle never stopped thinking about it. Michelle never forgave me for it. And she shouldn’t of course. I would never expect that. I could never ask her to.

But it happened. And it kept happening for a while before it stopped. And that wasn’t because I stopped it. I think they just got bigger.

I used to think maybe I just had no other options. That I couldn’t have done anything differently than I did.

But I look at Mani. And I think. That’s how old the twins were when it started. And I think if anyone hurt Mani the way she hurt them I’d tear them to pieces for it. Why didn’t I stop her? I tried. I thought I’d tried as hard as I could. But I should have tried harder.

And Every time it happened I’d promise myself I wouldn’t let it happen again. And then it would. And then it did.

I keep saying “it happened”. As though it wasn’t something that I did.

The truth is that I don’t want to know why she did it. I don’t want to follow whatever fucked up logic lead her to inflict such pain. I can’t possibly forgive her because I’m not the person that she hurt.

I don’t want to understand that woman.

I don’t want to become her again.

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