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I’m in trouble. Again.

Was I too loud? Did I say something wrong? I can’t recall. I try desperately to remember. 

Maybe, if I figure it out, I can say I’m sorry before it’s too late.

Suddenly, my mother kicks me under the metal-rimmed restaurant table. A sharp, piercing stab 

that brings tears to my eyes. Then another. I wince as shooting pains ricochet through my leg. 

Too late. 

Her piercing glare seethes and writhes with that all too familiar ‘you’d-better-smile-like 

everything’s-okay’… look. I dare not react or it will happen again. And worse when we get 

home. Anger and hurt swell up in my throat as I quickly look away and stare at nothing.

A single teardrop teeters on the edge of my eyelid, but I quickly wipe it away before she sees. 

I used to cry. I thought it would make her stop. But it didn’t. I must not show emotion, 

or everyone will know. That’s how the game is played. No one must ever know.

Nearly every table in the restaurant is occupied. I open my mouth to cry out, but no sound 

escapes. I am silently screaming, but no one hears. How could they? My face remains frozen. 

Not even a flinch. 

I may only be ten… but I am an excellent actress.  

Sit up straight! Don’t talk! Do as I say! Never interrupt! You’ll eat what I order you! I gag on the liver and onions. I choke on my shame.

Lively chatter drones on at the table next to us. The burly, gentle-faced man cracks a joke. It 

must be funny because laughter erupts in my ears. A middle-aged couple, at a corner table, 

turn to see what the commotion is about, then smile as they watch the happy, carefree children 

giggle, wriggle, and bounce in their chairs. I wish I could be at that table. 

No one comes to my rescue, for I have played the game too well. I have everyone fooled. I am 


I may only be ten… but I am an excellent actress.


I’m in trouble. Again.

We’ve just finished dinner and the phone rings. It’s my friend Judy from up the road. She’s upset and wants to talk. 

After a few minutes pass, a stabbing pain shoots through my ankle and up my leg. What did I 

do? I cringe as my eyes start to water. I stare wide-eyed at my assailant.

“Get off the phone!” Through clenched teeth, my mother hisses and spits at me under her 

scowling breath. “You have homework to do. Move it!” 

“But it’s all done Mom! I finished it at school. Honest!”


My hand cups the mouthpiece in hopes my friend can’t hear. “I’m trying,” I insist. “But Judy is 

upset. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I won’t be long. I promise!”

Her piercing glare seethes and writhes with that familiar ‘you’d-better-sound-like-everything’s-

okay’… look. I have to get off the phone quickly or she will lash out at me again.

Too late.

Get off the phone.” (Kick) “NOW!” (Kick) “Did you hear me?” (Kick) (Kick) (Kick)

I try desperately to avoid the assaults; moving, shifting, shrinking, turning, contorting - all while 

trying to sound normal and nonchalant. My face is hot with shame and embarrassment. It’s 

getting difficult to breathe. Or pretend. 

“Please stop Mom! I’m getting off!”

I can hear myself apologizing, “I’m sorry Judy. I have to go.” My lip quivers as I try to keep my 

voice from shaking. I can’t let on that I’m in pain. That isn’t the way to play the game.

I may only be thirteen… but I am an excellent actress. 


I’m in trouble. Again.

I am just getting home from a date with a boy from my church youth group. I look at the clock 

on the stove and realize I’m a few minutes late. The house is dark, so I don’t see her at first. She 

is waiting for me behind the front door. She switches on the light and glares at me. A 

piercing glare that seethes and writhes with that familiar ‘you’d-better-obey-me-if-you-know-

what’s-good-for-you’ … look. 

“I’m sorry Mom. I didn’t realize. I won’t be late again.”  

Nothing. Not a word. Just silence. A shudder runs down my spine. 

Her eyes are daggers as she quietly and methodically removes her watch, and places it on the 

kitchen table. Next, her ring. She rolls up her sleeves, her eyes never leaving mine. 

Too late.

The first punch lands in my stomach. “I told you what would happen if you were late!”

Another punch. “How dare you disobey me!” 

Two more punches. “Are you going to be late again?”

My mind is exploding, screaming, ‘I hate you! I hate you! Stop!’ But no words come out. I want 

to cry but I won’t give her the satisfaction. 

I may only be fifteen… but I am an excellent actress. 

Something inside me snaps. I watch in disbelief as my hand comes out of nowhere and slaps her 

on the face. 

“Enough!” I shout. 

She stumbles backward, confused. Is that a glimmer of fear I see in her eyes? Confusion turns to 


She hits me even harder, but I don’t care. She’s slapping and kicking and hitting; her arms 

flailing everywhere and anywhere on my body they can possibly reach. But I no longer feel 

anything. And I don’t back down. 

Suddenly, it’s all over. She’s staring at me as if she’s seeing me for the very… first… time. 

I am no longer invisible. I am no longer paralyzed. My mother never hits me again.

I may only be fifteen… but I have found my voice. 

It’s not too late.

Micki F

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