On Saturday night we had a camp fire. The weather was perfect for it. We’d had one the previous night when my daughter had a gathering of friends around. One of the benefits of living in the country is you get to do stuff like that.
Because this was the second one for the weekend, wood that had been cut was getting low, so it was decided that anything that was stored in the shed, waiting to be chucked out, could be burned. It would be good as it would reduce the size of the skip that would be required when I move. Cardboard boxes, old magazines, broken wooden toys, junk. You know, that kind of stuff.
Lying amongst the “stuff” was the album that had been gifted to me and Aston’s father on the day that we got married. The day that I knew with absolutely certainty that I had made a monumental mistake. The wedding itself was fairly uneventful. It was afterwards, when R proceeded to get drunk, and aggressive, and very publicly abuse my 8 year old sad and confused daughter by calling her a bitch. Hello Wicked Step-father. The night got progressively worse when on the way home he continued to be abusive and proceeded to get out the moving car, terrifying my children. I think by this stage I was well and truly numb – left my body, watching it all from far above. Sweet disassociation….
Laura saw it, and asked me, “Can I burn that?” I mutely nodded, and watched as she threw it onto the fire, knowing that it was more than an album she was throwing on. I stood and watched the flames engulf it. Then Laura came out of the shed with the air rifle, and fiercely chucked it onto the fire, and my heart started to break.
I stood behind her with my arms around her as tears ran down her face, my own tears hot and heavy with shame, falling as well, both of us re-living the trauma of her being shot in the thigh. By a stupid man, who knew better than to ever point a gun at someone, regardless of whether they thought it was loaded or not.
On the first weekend of the first week Laura started high school, R, Laura, Nathan and a friend of Nathan’s were shooting targets with the air rifle. R was drinking, as usual. Of course, nothing I said was ever heard, or paid attention too. I hated the damn gun. Like I hated him drinking, and by this stage, pretty much everything about him. I was inside the house with Aston, when I heard Laura scream. You know, the type of scream that a mother knows without a doubt that their child is badly hurt. I ran to the door and saw her on the ground. R picked her up and carried her inside, all the while telling her to stop carrying on, that the gun was empty.
I looked at her leg and there was a very definitive entry point, an entry point that could not have been made by air. Which I screamed at him. And as always, because I could never possibly be right, he had to prove a point, and stood in front of us, Laura screaming NO! and promptly fired the air rifle at his own foot. Which of course did nothing, because by now it had nothing in it. That was embedded in my daughters thigh! So, I was right – air cannot penetrate flesh and leave an entry point. Funny that.
He took her to the hospital, where they tried to get the pellet out, unsuccessfully. Consequently she was scheduled for surgery first thing on the Monday morning to have it removed. The whole time, Laura was more concerned about me losing it with R, then what was going on with her. Which only enraged me more, and finally ignited within me the courage to do something about the nightmare my children and I were living. But that’s another story.
Having to see your child go under general anaesthetic is a horrible experience. Especially when the child is having a panic attack. Thankfully the hospital was wonderful and allowed me to stay with her in the theatre until she was completely under, and came and got me to be there when she woke up in recovery.
I really don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive him for doing this to my daughter. She has two 10 cm scars on her thigh, and constantly gets asked how they happened. It’s hard enough being a teenager without any other elements thrown into the mix.
Throwing the air rifle into the fire has opened up a wound inside her heart. Inside of my heart. No amount of prompting on my part to talk to someone about the incident, to help her process it, has had any result. This last week she has been crying a lot, and thinking a lot, and having flash backs. All classic symptoms of PTSD.
I feel helpless. And guilty, and burning with shame. I may not have pulled the trigger, but I brought him into her world.