He built this so he can have a place where to gather the family, have a barbeque outside and hide from the sun whenever he wanted to. He wanted to have late night talks, tell people stories from the army, from his past, about his relationship.. However, by the time he finished it everything started falling apart. His schizophrenia took over. The pills weren`t helping much, and from missing one pill on his schedule, the urge of wanting to be normal would fly away. The madness and the disorder would take over, and without his brain realizing, he would start hurting people around him. One of the main people and most important people he would always take his anger on, would be his wife. Tough. She stood strong for so long, but things weren`t getting any better. He wasn`t getting better. Her life wasn`t getting better. Everything was going down-heel. Broken. Their hearts were both broken. After an argument, a fight, a moment of craziness, somehow with time he would realize his wrong and he would feel bad, especially that he couldn`t control it.
Terror. She went from being threatened, yelled at, slapped, punched, to actual fighting one on one. She stood so strong through out the years that she became a little ninja. She learned how to dodge punches, a knife, use his own power against him, tricks on how to take his hand off her neck whenever he would try chocking her. She learned to defend herself without a coach, and she was doing it well. Through many years she just hoped things will change, pills will work, he will change, he will stop fighting, but the illness had some other plans. His bipolar days would get so bad that she got to the point where she needed to sneak out of the house. Besides all the craziness they already had in their family, they also had a neighbor who liked causing trouble. Not only that he would tell everything that was happening around their house, he would also really exaggerate things, which was making everything much more complicated.
Backyard. I called some friends to come over so we could hang around, play with weird toys we used to make out of rocks, tree branches and potatoes. We had other toys, but building our own was much funner and would show off our creative side. From playing on grass and blankets, our energy brought us in the trees, pretending to be monkeys, messing around throwing apples at each other. Some of the apples landed on our neighbor’s side of the fence but it didn`t really matter, they`re just apples after all. We continued our apple fight and then went to eat dinner. My grandmother prepared potatoes with sour-cream, which was my favorite dish and always will be. We all ate then decided to go to the school. They have a big soccer court where we would go play soccer every now and then, whenever it was enough of us. The whole day everything went great, we were shooting soccer balls around the field as the night was settling and as our friends were still gathering. When everybody got there we played the best game ever, mostly because my team won, but it was still a good game for other reasons such as the fact that the whole game was full of suspense, energy and excitement. For once, nobody got so frustrated to actually leave, start cursing and put as all in a shitty mood, or start tripping all of us while running with the ball. Things that have happened before, and the game never lasted as long as this one. Maybe too long. It was time for me to get home. Late.
Home. Everything calm. Everybody chill. No complains. No questioning. Well not that my grandmother really cared, as long as I was having fun and staying out of trouble she was happy. Unlike my other grandmother where things were a lot stricter.
5 am. Things started to get weird. Last night was so good to everybody. However, this morning doesn`t quite look as fun. Screaming. Things dropping. His yelling. Cursing. Done. Everything got quiet. So I went right back to sleep. “He probably had another crazy episode in his brain and started some weird fight again” ..not quite close. 30 minutes later a weird shadow of something hairy and bloody pulling me out of bed. I couldn`t figure out what it was, I was still trying to actually wake up. However the shadow tells me not to say a word. To be quiet. I do as I`m told with no questioning. Within 30 seconds I start seeing clear and realize it was my grandmother. Beat up. Bleeding. Her hair was out of her regular ponytail, her scarf was off, she had hair over her blouse, her skirt had blood on, her eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head, the whole face was purple and her scarf was wrapped loosely around her neck. At the moment I didn`t know if I was furious, sad, feeling sorry, but I couldn`t act on my emotions either way. He would finish me within 10 seconds. His strong. Very.
Run. We needed a way to escape. She fooled him somehow into letting her go to the other room to bring him something. The problem now, was that we couldn’t get back to the door without him seeing us. The windows are all blocked. “Winter caution” is what they always told me. I think its just a way of saying “we were too lazy to paint them all separately, so we painted them when they were closed, and the paint blocked them from opening”. I managed to unblock one, the one in my room, I would sneak out through it whenever they would go out in the field to plant food and they would lock me inside betting that I wouldn`t wake up by the time they get back. However, the urge to pee beat that and unblocked one of the windows. Worst part is that last night I decided to sleep in the room on the other side of the house, and to get to my room now we`d have to pass by him. Impossible. Plan B. The worse way of escaping a house. Within 40 seconds we quietly moved all the rugs blocking the back door. 5 rugs, a big hanger for furry coats and suits, and a big box full with books nobody has ever opened. Short time. Heavy lifting. No noise. We made it somehow and as soon as we managed to step foot out, we galoped. We ran barefoot through mud, puddles of water, cut our feet in rocks but it didn`t matter. There was nothing that could stop us at that moment. First thought was our neighbor. My grandmother`s only close friend besides family. My grandmother`s only friend that she could trust.
Danger. Our neighbor knew she was gonna get herself in some big trouble as soon as she heard the knocking. Nobody would really visit her that early. The earliest visit she normally gets is from the milk man, and that`s not until around 7:30 or even 8:00 am. She opens the door to a beat up woman and next to her a child. I can`t even imagine the thoughts that went through her head at that moment. She manages to remain calm, doesn`t even ask any questions, runs back inside, gets the key from the bigger house that her daughter has built over time with the money she`s earned in Italy. She runs right to the first door and opens it. No words needed, thanking has been done through the eye contact. We run inside and wait. Within 10 minutes or less we hear a deep voice screaming and breaking things around. We take a glance through the window to see where exactly he is, then we both start looking around for places to hide. Nothing but a bed that we could hide under. The closet is too obvious, there is no time to go upstairs and the furniture is small, I won`t even be able to fit anywhere in there.
Pieces. The glass of the door falls down into pieces, a hand manages to open the door from the inside because she wouldn`t give him the key. He starts searching all over, checks every little corner, under the beds, upstairs, basement, closets, etc. Miraculously he doesn`t check under the bed where we were hiding. To this day I can`t explain how much I was praying to God to make him not check that bed. Once he finishes searching, he goes back to the old woman, our neighbor, threatens her to tell him where we are, but she doesn`t say a word. With tears in her eyes and a crying voice she tells him we`re not here, and tells him to leave, she`s scared. He keeps yelling and threatening her that if he ever finds out we were hiding there, he will make sure she will be dead.
After his leaving, we take a couple minutes to get back to normal. We were shaking like crazy, thinking what could have happened if he was to find us. We managed to call the cops and explain the situation, however, they didn`t care much because it wasn`t the first time they heard that story, and there wasn`t much they could do about it but threaten him that he could go back to the hospital if he keeps doing this. Too late. He has been through this so many times, he know`s exactly how to fool the doctor that he is back to normal and he won`t make any mistakes again, and as soon as they would let him go he would stop taking his pills again and go nuts. Without any help and anyone to look out for her and defend her, she will be dead soon if she keeps putting up with this, because it only worsens with each day passing by.
Moving. Her leaving the house would be the best way she can be safe and sure that he won`t have any other reason to hurt her. But moving is hard, especially when she has to start from scratch again, especially at this age. However, there`s not many other opportunities. She either leaves and stays away from him, or stays with him and deal with so much. Since the cops were already there she decided to use that as an opportunity to get away with some things she would need. She had been taking care of a house for many years, the house is on the same street but there isn`t any other place she could go either way. She decides to move there. The fact that the house is so close, makes things pretty scary, but she would rather deal with the fear than deal with the pain.
Things will change, regret will be in the air every day, fear will bother her a lot and the pain of leaving everything she`s worked for a whole life will take over every night before sleep. She will cry and she knows that very well, but after all, that is her only way out.