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Flash Memoir of My Younger Years

Amy Sygnatowicz

One in every three .

One in every three and your mother is the one.

One in every three and you're awoken to thunder pulsing through your broken home, a massacre of words. Words that will echo and rattle around in her head like a penny in a tall coke bottle, rattle for the rest of her life. You'll hear them, too. They are the lullaby by which you fall to sleep to and fall prey in your nightmares.

Falling. Drowning. Echoes. Silence.

There's no in-between, no gray area in your home, no pause in the wake of the ritualistic verbal beatings. It's both chaos and rubble surrounding you, or silence so stark, you're eager for more yelling. It becomes a recognizable hum, though you shiver through the words. Cold, you're buried in your bed, but praying to be six feet below instead.

Her fault.

Her fault and it always has been. How her children turned out. How his day at work went. When the weather begins to change outside. That he woke up feeling ill. That the clock on the wall is off by two minutes. Everything is her fault. You begin to associate every minor slip-up, every unavoidable slip and blunder as related directly to your mother. Mother becomes synonymous with mistake.

With every cruel remark, he's throwing a glass at her head. With every empty threat, he's setting fire to the family portraits. Every time he belittles her, minimizes her, shrinks her down to size, she's covered in more bruises. You're spiked with the urge to run to her aid or run for cover.

You've become numb to the volume and can't imagine a family life where the father doesn't blow up over nine dollars spent without permission. Can't imagine a place where there isn't a one-sided screaming match. Can't imagine falling asleep with a dry face and eyes that aren't fire engine red. Can't imagine a home where the words "proud" and "brave" and "love" exist.

The most terrifying part of it all?

Fifteen years later, with the simple two-word consent of "I do," you become the next one in three.

One in three, and the cycle repeats.