I was 6 years old. I had been living with THIS family for a year at this point I guess. I had just finished first grade. I was still a newcomer, having been *yoinked* away from my weird-ass mother in Florida (and the baby brother everyone pretended didn't exist) and *plunked* down in the middle of a shit-ton of sisters I never knew I had, a father I never knew I had, a step-mother... I guess I was probably still reeling a bit but who knows - I was already weird, I was already outside the middle. I NEVER cried for my mother, I was honestly (surprisingly) very sanguine about the whole thing.
So dad had decided to rent a motor home and take the 4 youngest, with NM, on a camping trip up to Banff, Canada, near Lake Louise. I guess they must have discussed it, I remember going to the Army/Navy store in Orange and getting two footlockers we girls would share for suitcases. I remember the day the thing was parked outside waiting for us to pack it up. But, being very little and outside the middle I blocked out or just didn't know any more than that.
So, here is a picture of me and my sister Leslie, headed to the bathroom. Groovy motor home. (we were not allowed to use the bathroom inside the motor home. I think dad didn't know how to drain the tanks or didn't want to spend the money it would cost or whatever)
(Even back then my hair was completely fucked up all the time.)
I was 6 fucking years old. Look how little I was. I DIDN'T PACK THE RIGHT CLOTHES. What mother, in her right mind, (or father for that matter, but this was the 60's) does that. I wouldn't let my kid go to his dad's for the fucking weekend without checking what was in his backpack, up to the time he was like 12. I was FREEZING in this picture. Um, even though it was August, it was Canada. I didn't know what the word 'Canada' was any more than I knew what a 'transmission' was. I probably packed a book and a barbie and obviously a raincoat... It had been 80 or 90 degrees back in Orange, CA.
So there I was. Little. In a NEW family with parents who palpably hated me. <--I have asked my NM wtf about the hate, she admited dad hated me on sight. ON SIGHT. SO - new family, 6-yrs old. Already sidelined, already outside. Just another weird place for my body to be, in the already long journey of my weird ass life. Not connecting with the sisters, they are busy being older sisters and getting to know each other anyway - step-family dynamics not yet ironed out and they were new to dad also - it was an emotional cluster-fuck.
One night, probably like the other nights before, (new campsite every night or two) dad gave one of us a flashlight and we all 4 trooped to the bathroom to brush our teeth and get ready for bed. I found a picture of a Banff campground, but this is not the specific place:
[I AM NOT MAD AT THEM - they had no idea how to be sisters, we had all just met. We were strangers thrown together the prior summer - Leslie and Georgia had been living with their mom and then with Dad and more girls and jesus. What a fucking disaster. They weren't MAD at me, they were huffy and irritated and all OLDER and they were thoughtless in the way that kids can be and they didn't really KNOW me and if you aren't taught to be kind, how do you know?? All they knew was that I was a fuck-up and dad hated me and sidelined me, so they sidelined me too.]
That door. THAT DOOR. It slammed with the loudest *BANG*. A big steel door, in a steel frame, on a cinder block building with a cement floor. It was the biggest noise. And then, it was dark. so fucking dark and freezing cold the cement was ice cold i couldn't see it was black and my eyes were huge and i have never. ever. been so terrified again in my life. My hands were wet and I dropped my stuff and since it was a doorknob (not like the handles we have now) I couldn't turn it and I couldn't have pulled that heavy thing open anyway and I was calling out and yelling "WAIT" and then I just SCREAMED. It was a HOWL (this is horrible to remember) and I just kept SCREAMING I was on the ground I couldn't see my hand in front of my face I wasn't screaming for attention or to get anyone to come to me, I was screaming my terror I couldn't STOP screaming oh my god you guys. I was so little and I was so fucking scared. And the sound of my scream echoed in the bathroom and that scream was so loud (I cannot imagine how loud it was across the campground - you know how sound carries on a cold night in the open)
I think they thought I COULD open the door, that I would be left behind but trailing. It must have been pretty close to the campsite, and they took off running (probably giggling) and by the time they got back to the campsite I was already in hysterics.
THEN. The door slammed back open and I was grabbed by the arm and yanked and my legs were SLAPPED and SLAPPED AGAIN and the hissing whisper *be quiet you little shit stop screaming shut up* and his hands were YANKING me and dragging me back to the campsite and... scene.
I don't remember the rest of the night. My mind kind of shut off at that point I think. I'm sure I was shoved into the motorhome and yelled at and it was quell horrible, the end. I'm ALSO sure that the other sisters were traumatized too. They caused it, sure, but they didn't mean for me to get BEATEN and they certainly didn't anticipate my screaming. I do NOT know for sure, but I wonder if they got lectured about leaving me behind. I don't think their behavior was condoned in any way. And I know they were probably horrified at the results.
I think, honestly, that I thought they wouldn't come back. That they wouldn't notice I was gone (distinct possibility in my little brain). I was SO outside the middle by this time already that I knew I was invisible and meaningless ("we can get a donkey to do what you do around here!" [direct quote from many lectures over the years]) I just knew they weren't coming back and I would be in that place forever. It was just such a NORMAL thing, to be forgotten.
I'm sure he and NM were sitting by the campfire, enjoying a martini or 12 and enjoying the 10 minutes of silence with no kids and I'm sure I startled him and probably embarassed him. Hateful fucking bastard. I am SO glad you're dead. I hope that last heart attack HURT like a mother fucker.