She looked up when I walked in. Bruises lined her face, her swollen eye; cracked lip. She’d been crying. I didn’t know how long but could only imagine. She huddled protectively over our son. I walked over to them both and reached out to stroke her once lovely blonde hair but she shrank from my touch. My heart ached at the sight.
My son looked up at me and I was transported back to when I was his age and I had looked at my father with the same innocence and fear. My father had been a violent drunk. We’d paid the price.
I tried again to touch her and this time she allowed the contact, though a shiver ran through her body. She turned and looked into my eyes and started to cry. Pulling her close, I stroked her tangled and matted hair. My throat was dry. My voice hoarse, and cracked, but I forced the words out.
“I’m sorry, honey,”
It was all that I could think of to say.
She sobbed and buried her face in my chest and side.
“Your father was here again,” she replied.
The words tore at me and I voiced silently that I would make him pay. I had no idea how. Worse yet, I knew it to be a lie. I didn’t and still don’t know why I allowed him do the things he did. I just knew that I was powerless to stop him. I had tried, but he had always won. He always came and did…this…to my wife…to my family.
The memories of my mother’s screams filling our house now echoed inside my brain. They mingled with my own wife’s pleas and cries. It was at that moment that I knew how to stop my father. It was at that moment, that I realized what I needed to do. Though I had vowed that I would never do this; never take this drastic measure because my life would be forever changed. Still, he had to be stopped.
I reached inside my pocket and withdrew my phone. I knew the number by heart. I had seen it many times, had studied it but had always been afraid of making the call; talking that step. Now I would. I would not allow my father to continue his alcoholic reign of terror.
Punching the digits, I waited. My wife looked on with a mixture of fear and hope. When the line picked up, I paused for just a moment, drew a deep breath and started to speak.
“Hello,” I said. “Alcoholic’s Anonymous? My name is James Harrison, and I have a drinking problem.”