Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tattered Phoenix (Excerpt) by Kachina Riley

Benny was near panic by the time I returned. He was still at his post, persistently pleading with Mother, who paid absolutely no attention to him.

Suddenly, mother stopped and looked around with terror in her eyes. Her face was contorted with anguish. She turned away from the basement stairs and dashed into the living room. She stopped screaming for a moment, standing frozen in place as if fearful of something.

Seeing an opening, we rushed in. Benny grabbed hold of her on one side while I seized the other arm, hoping to reason with her and get her to sit down. But she was too powerful in her frenzied state. She jerked her arms away from us and scurried upstairs, continuing her screaming tirade. We followed as fast as we could. When she reached her bedroom she began tearing off her clothes. I tried desperately to get them back on her.

“I’ll get a sheet and maybe we can tie her up,” Benny cried.

“Good! Get the sheet,” I screamed through choked sobs. My nose was running like a sieve. Benny took off to the bathroom across the hall and got the sheet out of the linen drawer. On the way back he tossed me a washcloth to blow my nose. I grabbed the sheet and tried to get it around her. She tore off the rest of her clothes and pushed me away. For the moment, her small, five-foot frame held the strength of Sampson.

Mother leaped up onto the bed, laughing wickedly as she bounced up and down. I scrambled onto the bed, still trying to subdue her with the sheet. But I was no match for her and fell backwards off the bed, crashing my head on the dresser. Blood spurted from my head, and I grabbed part of the sheet to blot it away. Benny grabbed a head scarf from Mother’s dresser and wrapped it around my head to stop the blood. Through all this, Mother never lost a beat. Benny and I continued trying to get the sheet around her but eventually gave up in fear of hurting her.

The blood from my wounded head soon clotted, and I was able to take the scarf off. We had lost all sense of time. At last, we heard the cars in the driveway. I looked at the clock. It was 6:30 p.m. After three hours which seemed like an eternity to us, Daddy, Aunt Lilly and Uncle Emmitt all arrived at the same time. As Daddy came through the door from the garage, he immediately started calling for Benny and me. Neither of us could answer. We were totally exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally—and more than ready for the relief shift to take over. We heard them racing through the house. 

“Benny, Sister!” Daddy never stopped calling us. We could hear the anxiety in his voice. Finally, they all raced up the steps where we were waiting. Mother was still naked, screaming and jumping up and down on the bed.

Benny and I ran into Daddy’s arms and just sobbed. He was crying, “Oh, God,” as though he was in a trance. We watched him, terrified that he too might come  unglued. He was so distraught he didn’t even notice the dried blood on the back of my head.

Aunt Lilly took control, even though we could see her heart was breaking. “Go and call the police!” she screamed at Uncle Emmitt. “Tell them to bring a paddy wagon.”

Uncle Emmitt bounded down the stairs two at a time. Aunt Lilly continued to talk calmly to Mother while giving Daddy directions. “Pearl, calm down, please just sit down honey. Leonard get on the other side of her, so if she falls we can catch her!”

Fifteen minutes later we heard the piercing sirens of the police car as it swung into our driveway. Aunt Lilly sent Uncle Emmitt back downstairs to let them in and direct them up to the bedroom. She ordered Benny and me to go down and stay in the living room. Benny took my arm and pulled me toward the stairs. I remember how our bodies trembled with fear and anxiety.


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Genre – Memoir

Rating – PG13

More details about the book

Connect with Kachina Riley on her website


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