‘Souvenir Of Memories’ is a short story that was written to bring light and increase awareness on domestic abuse and mental health wellbeing.
Trigger warning - Please note that some readers may find parts of the story disturbing.
January 1st, 2016
It’s been a year Mom and I’m still not over it. How can I be? The memory of that night has been haunting me ever since. It should have been me, not you. I should have fought back. I could have saved you. I wish I was stronger. We should have called for help. But we didn’t. The feeling of your body going cold against mine has been etched into my memory unlike any other. I remember it like it was yesterday. The memory still fresh and the wounds unhealed. I need you Mom. I can’t do this anymore. I know your last words to me were to ‘Stay Strong’ but I’m losing all my strength. And father? He hasn’t changed at all. His drinking has become worse.
He had promised he wouldn’t drink but he did it anyway saying it was in celebration of a new beginning. A new year after all. We could forget about everything in the past and start afresh. But I never expected the beginning to be without you by my side. He lost his temper and started the usual routine of abusing you. I tried getting his attention away from you. But he was way too strong for me. He just held the back of my head and pushed me hard against the wall. And all I could do was lay there with the back of my head bleeding slowly losing conscious. You should have ran and called for help Mom but you tried stopping him yourself. This resulted in him hitting you harder like you committed a crime. But the only crime you were responsible for was giving birth to me, a baby girl instead of the glorious son he always wanted. You lost your life that day trying to save mine but there’s no one to save me anymore. I should have told the police that he was the one who killed you. But I was scared because he said he would kill me too. So I kept quiet. I heard him tell everyone how you were careless. How you slipped off the stairs and lost your life. It’s an insult to your memory but there was nothing I could do. I’m sorry Mom.
I miss you.
Drops of tears slipped through her eyes and blurred the ink on the page of her journal as she looked at it for a moment longer and finally closed it. This was something she did when she felt overwhelmed. Lily sat on the park bench and stared into the sky. This bench was covered by trees at the far end and was hence deserted from the rest of the park. She would come here to escape the realities of her life. It was calm and peaceful here. She could momentarily forget all her worries and definitely all the people except her mother. Lily took a couple of deep breaths and saw the sun set. She knew her time here was over and she had to go back home. But that place was no more her home without her mother. It was a living hell and her father was the demon. She hesitantly got up the bench and started walking back home, hugging her jacket closer to herself, lost deep in thought.
Her father was not home yet, something she was grateful for. She went to her room, dropped her jacket on the bed and decided to finish her homework before he was back. She was almost done with her work when she heard the car door bang and the front door open. “Father must be in a particularly bad mood tonight” she thought to herself. She took a deep breath and stood up from her chair. “Lily!” her father screamed from below. She knew what was coming. Her heart was beating so fast she was sure anyone around her could hear it. “Lily get down here right now” she heard her father yell making her jump a little. She ran out of the door as fast as her legs could take her. Her father was furious that she took this long. So as soon as she was in front of him he swung his hand making a loud sound once his hand made contact with her face. The force he hit her with was so much Lily knew it would leave a mark but she forced the tears back in not wanting for them to fall. This was bad enough already and she knew the tears would only make it worse. She apologised and immediately went into the kitchen and got him a beer. He grunted a few swear words at her and demanded the food to be served. Lily started preparing dinner and was soon sobbing silently. She could not stop the tears no matter how hard she tried but she knew he couldn’t hear her so she let them flow.
Once she was done, she served the food to him and waited for him to finish eating so she could do the dishes. “You’re a horrible cook just like your mother” he hissed. She just stayed there quiet, afraid that if she made any noise he would hit her again. The wounds from yesterday were not healed yet causing a sharp pain even for the slightest movement she made. As usual he ate all the food that was there leaving nothing for her to eat. But she wasn’t hungry tonight, in fact she was used to eating only one meal a day. He threw the now empty bottle at her and asked for another one. She cringed with the pain it caused but quickly took the dishes to the kitchen and bought a new bottle for him to drink. Once she was done cleaning she quickly made her way back upon seeing him fast asleep on the couch. This meant that there would be no more trouble, atleast until he was awake.
As Lily lie on bed trying to absorb all the pain that was radiating from different parts of her body, she prayed that it disappeared. She thought of what her father told about her mother and that made her blood boil. Her mother was among the best cooks she had known and yet he chose to criticise her. As she thought about it she knew that no matter how good her mother was, he would always hate her and the fact that she looked just like her did not help. But she was proud, proud that she could be her mother’s little girl. When she was born her mother had unconditionally fallen in love with her. Though her father abused her mother for giving birth to a girl instead of a boy she was relentless on keeping her. She thought of her as a delicate flower whom she loved and nurtured and this led to naming her ‘Lily’. But just as flowers die when they are not nurtured and cared for Lily was dying on the inside. She missed her mother and wanted to go back into her arms and forget about everything. For that she was willing to do anything. With that final thought she fell deep into slumber.
The next morning was like any other. Lily was up early and after getting dressed and preparing breakfast for her father who was still asleep, she left home nibbling on an apple. She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt over her head and kept walking while looking down to avoid eye contact with anyone. She got the usual stares and whispers as she walked into school. People thought she was a part of a gang, did drugs and got into fights because of how she looked. They didn’t know that her eyes were red because of how much she cried or that the bruises were caused because her father abused her. Nobody knew what she was going through. She didn’t have any friends and stayed to herself. Avoiding any sort of interaction until absolutely necessary. There was something off today. She could feel it but was unable to put her finger on what it was and gave up eventually. It was only once she was back home she realised that she couldn’t find her journal. She looked everywhere and finally decided to finish her assignments. The rest of the evening went by faster than she had expected. The following two days went by in a blur.
It was only when she was walked back from school to her usual bench at the park on the third day that she started to panic. Her heart rate increased when she saw her journal on the bench. “How could I be so careless” she thought to herself. What if she had left it at home and her father got hold of it? A shiver ran down her spine at the thought of it. It would definitely be the end of her. This journal was the only evidence of everything she had been though besides the scars and she did not want anyone to know about it. She sat down and closed her eyes, picking up the journal and hugging it close to herself. Once she had finally calmed her nerves she opened it to pour her feelings into the next entry. But what she found next gave her a mini heart attack. In the page after the previous entry was another note in a handwriting she didn’t recognise. She stared at it temporarily forgetting how to read. She took in a few deep breaths and calmed herself before trying to read again.
I didn’t know someone else used this bench as it’s always empty. I found your journal here last night and couldn’t help but wonder who it belonged to. I tried really hard to ignore it and not look into it. I know it’s private but I couldn’t stop myself. I found your name on the first page and then there was no turning back. I’m truly sorry but I know everything now. The blood stains on the pages and the words blurred by your tears haunted me all night. I could never have imagined someone else to go through what I went through in the past. You are the strongest girl that I know of and I commend you for facing all that. Your mother will be proud of you. I know it. But you should tell the police. You shouldn’t stay quiet Lily. Your father deserves to go to jail. Don’t be afraid Lily. Reach out to someone about this. I will be waiting for you to respond to this note. Please don’t push me away like you do to others. I want to help you. Let me help you.
“Oh no! This shouldn’t have happened. Nobody should have known about this. What do I do?” Lily thought out loud. Frustrated with everything that happened she suddenly felt extremely exhausted. She took all her belongings making sure to keep the journal safely in her bag and rushed home. She suddenly felt suffocated. By the time she was home her mind was spinning and her father greeting her looking furious did not help at all. “Leave me alone” she said to him and tried making her way to her room but failed. “How dare you talk to me like that” he growled. “Please let me go” Lily pleaded. “You’re hurting me” she quietly added but that only led to him tightening his grip on her wrist and twisting it. The strength in her was depleting faster than ever. She was tired of trying to fight back. But her father thought otherwise. He yelled at her and pushed her away with so much force that her head banged against the bookshelf. She fell to the ground crying with pain when some of the books fell over and hit her head knocking her out.
She woke up to a sharp pain in her head and found herself lying in a pool of blood. Slowly the events of the previous night came back to her. She unconsciously placed a hand behind her head only to immediately move it away. She was sobbing loudly now looking at her hand that was now stained with blood along with her clothes and the floor. She cleaned the mess as fast as she could and decided to skip school. She felt weak because of all the blood she lost. She took a few pain killers and cleaned herself before taking her bag and escaping the house before her father could do more damage. She didn’t have anywhere to go. The park was the only place she could think of. As soon as she reached she let out a sigh knowing she was finally alone. The thought caused a severe pain in her chest. She cried and cried till she ran out of tears. She missed her mother. She needed her. She wanted to feel her arms around her. Sick of being treated this way, she missed the feeling of being loved and cared for. She was no longer strong. She had let down her mother. She couldn’t fulfil her mom’s death wish. Tears started flowing down her cheeks again. She opened her journal and entered all that had happened only this time she addressed it to Jake. She poured out her feelings knowing it probably wasn’t the wisest thing but she was vulnerable and she clung on to any support she got. After the sun set she knew she couldn’t stay here anymore and that she had to go back home. She left the journal on the bench and made her way back, the whole while thinking if he would even be there and respond to her.
Her thoughts were soon interrupted when her home came into view. Her heart was racing knowing she would get punished for talking back last night. But deep inside she wanted to fight back. And so she did. Her father was more furious than ever on seeing her new behaviour. She hadn’t cooked anything all day and he was starving. “How could you not cook today? Where did you run off to all day? “ he yelled as soon as she entered. She ignored it and tried to walk away. “How could she?” he thought to himself. He immediately yanked her away from the stairs and pressed his hand around her neck. “I will kill you” he screamed and threw her to the ground. “I should have killed you the same night as your mother. You don’t deserve to live” he was screaming while kicking her ribs. He didn’t stop at that though. He continued to hit her though she was begging him to stop. He cursed her and her mother for what seemed like hours without stopping the physical assaults. Finally when he got tired he left her there bleeding and walked away. She just lay there sobbing unable to move. Finally she got herself to her room and locked it in case he decided to come back. That night she couldn’t get herself to sleep. She cried and cried thinking about all that had happened. It was her birthday in two days, not like anyone remembered or cared for that matter. Her mom was the only one who remembered. She would secretly bake a cake for her and save money to buy her the perfect gift. But since she was gone now there would be no cake. She didn’t care about presents she just wanted to be with her mom. It was at this very moment she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She stayed locked up until noon the next day and then made her way to the park. It took her twice the time because of all the pain. There was a small glimmer of hope when she saw her journal lying there on the bench. She opened it and eagerly read the response.
I don’t know what to say. I’m shocked at all that you told me. How could he do all that to you? How could anyone treat their child like that? Why are you not doing anything about it? You should tell the police Lily. Please don’t do this to yourself. He deserves to rot in jail. He’s a monster. I know this is really hard but you got to listen to your mother and stay strong Lily. Just a year more and then you can leave this town and go away some where far for college. Come on Lily you can do this. I know you are a very strong girl and you can do this. Nobody deserves the things you went through. Your father will be punished for all this. I’ll be there for you when you need me. You were wrong when you said nobody cares for you because I care. And I know you can make it through this. Stay strong Lily.
Once she finished reading, she turned the page and started putting her thoughts on paper.
Thank you for everything you have done for me. Besides my mom nobody has ever cared for me and the fact that you do means so much to me. He threatened to kill me last night and left me bleeding again. I’ve finally realised that this is never going to stop. I waited, I really did, hoping that he would finally realise his mistake and would stop treating me this way. But I don’t think that will happen. In fact, with the amount of blood I’m losing on a daily basis I’ll be dead sooner or later. I can’t do this anymore. I’m exhausted physically, mentally and most of all emotionally. I give up. I don’t want to fight back anymore because in the end it’s not worth all this pain. He may hate me but he’s still my father so I can’t tell the police. I miss Mom. I want to go back to her. Through the past year I tried my best to stay strong but over the past few days my strength is depleting faster than ever. It’s all gone now. I can’t stay strong anymore. This is going to be my last entry Jake. I want you to keep this journal as a memory of me. This journal has played a vital role in my life, having all my memories. So I’d like you to keep it as a souvenir of my memories. By the time you read this I’d be with my mom again. That would be the best gift I could get for my birthday. Please don’t get upset because in the end I will finally be happy. I’ll always be grateful for everything you did for me. Thank you Jake.
She finished writing with shaking hands and tears rolling down her cheeks. Stains of blood and tears were left behind on paper. She looked at the journal one last time and thought about all that happened in her life. She then left the journal on the bench and headed home without a second glace. Once she was home she quickly made her way to her room and locked the door behind. Another encounter with her father was the last thing she wanted at that moment. She then sat on her bed and thought of her mother, all the memories they had together. It was past midnight which meant that it was her birthday. She would soon be with her again and she couldn’t have wished for a better birthday gift. With that thought in mind she smiled after what felt like forever. She then brought the blade close to her wrist and cut it deep knowing that it was the only one thing that separated her from her mother.
PS, I’m truly sorry if the story didn’t turn out the way you expected it to.