Days pass and daddy doesn’t come home. The last time I asked mummy about him I was shushed. Not seeing daddy doesn’t worry me as much because mummy has been making noodles everyday for me. Also, I’m still mad at dad for what he did to me and mummy. It doesn’t hurt me as much as it that day. I feel a lot better.
Since daddy hasn’t been home, I no longer find hiding spots with mummy. I don’t mind one bit. After that day daddy threw me and gave me the puff puff, I no longer want to play with daddy anymore. Daddy was being bad and people who are bad should be beaten just like how mummy beats me when I’m bad. I bend my head and rub my bum bum. I don’t like remembering mummy’s beatings.
‘Mummy, where’s daddy?’
I don’t really care…that much. It’s just odd that daddy hasn’t come home. He has to come back so mummy can beat him for being bad.
Mummy is by the gas cooker. Her back to me. Since the day daddy hurt me, mummy has been bathing me. I don’t know why she still does it. I feel a lot better now but if it makes her happy then I’m okay with it.
‘Baby, daddy went away for a little while. It’ll just be you and me in this big house. Won’t that be fun?’
I look at mummy’s smiling face and smile too. She comes to stand beside me as I’m seated on a stool at the other end of the kitchen. Her face no longer has that weird colour from the day daddy hit her. She hasn’t cried again since the first day she bathed me. The feel of her palms on my cheeks is warm from the fire.
‘Does that mean no more hide and seek?’
Even though daddy isn’t around to play, I still want to play. Daddy never included me and I miss hiding with mummy.
‘How about this? We continue our game but it’ll just be between the two of us. No daddy.’
I think about this for a while and my smile widens then it falters again.
‘But mummy, when I’m bad you punish me. I want daddy to come back so that we can punish him.’
Mummy turns away from me. Did I say something wrong again? Shouldn’t dad be punished?
‘You’re very right baby. He should be punished and playing hide and seek without him will be the perfect punishment for him.’
She’s looking at me and smiling again. Mummy is right. I always felt bad not being able to play with mummy and daddy. I’m sure daddy will be upset he won’t be able to play with us. I’m so happy, I throw my arms around mummy’s neck. I hear mummy grunt and I step back. Did I touch her puff puff? I know mine still hurts a little.
‘It’s okay baby. I’m okay.’
It is dark. The entire house is dark except for the little candle light mummy left burning near the door of my room. It’s almost finished. I get up from my bed and look around. I’m not sure what woke me up, but I’m really thirsty and head to the kitchen to get water to drink.
‘Ahhhhhh! No! Don’t!’
I almost drop the pure water I’m drinking. Is daddy back? Mummy only ever shouts like that when daddy’s around. The pure water forgotten, I run as quickly as I can to my room. Will mummy be able to punish daddy now? It didn’t sound like mummy was giving the punishment.
I hear another scream which continues. It’s so loud and sad I cover my ears, tears dripping down my face.
‘Mummy is in pain! Mummy is in pain! Mummy is in pain!’
I’m confused. Why? Why can’t daddy and mummy get along? I wish daddy didn’t hurt mummy so much. I wish daddy didn’t come back. Everything was so peaceful. Mummy would bath me, cook my favourite meal, treat me like an egg, laugh with me. We didn’t even get to punish daddy by playing hide and seek.
I’m so lost in my thoughts, wishing and crying and hoping daddy would just disappear that I didn’t realize the screaming had stopped. My hands fall from my ears and I listen. The house is silent again.
What happened? Did daddy stop hurting mummy?
My feet moves slowly out of my room. I need to know if mummy is okay. If it’s like the last time daddy hurt mummy then I need to be there to help her get better.
The hallway leading to mummy and daddy’s room seem so long but my feet keeps moving. I can’t back away now. I use my hands to feel along the wall so I won’t fall. I’m trying to be as careful as I can so mummy won’t have to take care of me. I’ll be the one to take care of her. I’ll show her. This thought warms me up. Hopefully daddy will disappear again.
When I get to their door, it’s open. There’s light coming out of it. Mummy must be scared of the dark like me. I giggle a bit at this. Guided by the light, I enter the room and stop. I’ve always wondered where mummy sleeps since daddy usually covered the tiny bed. Now that I see mummy lying on the floor, it means that’s where she sleeps. No. Mummy can’t continue sleeping there when I have a big bed all to myself.
I walk straight to mummy. I need to wake her up. If she keeps sleeping on the floor she’ll catch a cold.
‘Mummy. Mummy. Mummy wake up.’
That’s odd, I’m shaking her but she still doesn’t want to wake up. Her back is to me. I’ve never known mummy to sleep deeply.
I turn to see daddy sitting on the bed. A broken bottle on the floor beside him. A dark liquid stained it.
‘I told her. I warned her but she didn’t listen! Damn it!’
I look back at mummy, going around her to see her face and she’s staring back at me, her eyes are not blinking.