Through half-drawn curtains, I watched the other children at play, chasing one another in a circle, chanting, “Duck. Duck. Goose!”
Humpty-Dumpty, the daycare where Daddy dropped us off that morning operated on a strict schedule. I knew I didn’t belong there. At lunch time, they made me sit in the dimly lit kitchen to finish the tough, chewy meat on my plate while the others went out for recess. Just when I cleaned my plate, they announced, “lights out.” I hated nap times too.
By age three, my parents were separated. My brother Ruben lived with Daddy while I stayed with Mama. Daddy had started coming for me, but on one visit he said I could stay and didn’t need to go back. I was perfectly happy. I didn’t know that Mama never agreed to him keeping me. Early one morning, determined to know where he took Ruben and me before he headed for work, Mama hunkered down inside a taxi and followed him to the daycare.
Later, parents came to collect their children. While my brother and I waited for Daddy, we played on the swings. That’s when the clunking sound of an engine caught our attention. We were not expecting them, but Mama and her boyfriend Jimmy—my new step-dad—drove up in a gray jalopy. Mama stuck her head out the window and waved us on.
“Tout de suite!” My mama shouted in the single French phrase that she knew, her arm pumping for us to hurry.
Trained to move fast whenever we heard the phrase, we bolted in their direction.
Jimmy yelled at Mama, “Stay in the car, Ruthie. I’ll get ‘em.”
Jimmy hoisted Ruben over the massive stonewall, and dropped him down the other side. Then he grabbed me by the arm and lifted me before sprinting toward that old heap. We clambered in and sped off. I glanced back to see the daycare worker running after us, screaming. Mama and Jimmy, cackling with glee, celebrated their successful kidnapping scheme. A strong odor of beer permeated the air inside the car.
I looked over at my brother pretending to be brave, but wide-eyed. I glanced down and noticed my scraped knees. A lump lodged in my throat; a tear escaped my eyes as I thought: What will Daddy think when he comes for us?
(Intro to Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace)
© M.A. Perez 2014, All Rights Reserved