The Ice Water Mansion of her Soul

July 25, 2020

I was seven years old; the family was at a cottage in the Muskokas, a favorite vacation area about 2 hours north of Toronto.

Not the actual cottage, but one typical of the area

 The family had vacationed in the area for as long as I could remember, sometimes with my father’s childhood friend and his family, other times with my mother’s sister and her husband. On this particular vacation, it was just us, my mother, father, brother, and myself. I had been typically excited to go, having missed the water, the lightly wooded surroundings, and the understated danger in the idea of running in to a black bear, or other wildlife. That particular year, I was really looking forward to actually getting up on water skis, the year before I had almost done it; problem was I was six, I was too small yet. I was hoping that I had grown enough and, gotten stronger too.

To my young mind, it seemed vital that I did get up on skis, because it was an important way to bond with dad, who always seemed distant and unable to lower his thinking to a child’s level, and almost equally as important, to be able to do something my brother could not. Anyway, we were there, and on the day in question I was up with the sun, I made myself some toast with peanut butter, made a mess with the jam and outside I went. It was a glorious morning, sunny, a few clouds, cool but humid enough to be warm, and I had the run of the place, no kids, no adults, it was just me, nature, and my imagination, pure heaven.

As the day wore on I had very little to do with my brother and mother, and I had not seen my father at all, I was far too wrapped up in whatever game I was playing. Around nine in the morning hunger interrupted whatever I was doing, and I reluctantly approached the cottage to refill my tummy. From a vantage point of about 30 meters away from behind a screen of trees, I saw that mom was sat on a lawn chair on the dock, looking extraordinarily pretty in a halter top, short shorts, and her long dark hair up in a bun to keep her cool. Dad and my brother were loading fishing gear in to our boat, a 14-foot fiberglass thing that seated 4 and had a 50-horse mercury outboard on it. That my brother and dad were going fishing seemed odd to me, the two of them spent very little time together, far less than dad and I. This turn of events made me nervous for reasons I could not quite understand.  I was ordinarily nervous around mom but this was different.  A ball of lead formed in the pit of my stomach and stayed there the entire time that they were gone.

It was now around 9:00 a.m., the appetite that I had worked up in my play vanished with the ball of lead. As the boat pulled away from the dock, I tried to recreate that magic place I had found earlier in the morning, but no, the sense of dread stayed with me. I expected them to be gone for several hours, so I was quite surprised to hear the unmistakable sound of our boat approaching the dock far faster than normal, and this soon. They had been gone for about an hour; I was now playing in the lake’s shallows near the dock, and I could see dad’s face as he docked the boat and tied up. He looked scared and semi-panicked, and then I saw that my brother was crying, and that he had suffered some kind of accident. I could see a fishing hook dangling from fishing line in several loops that looked as if they went entirely through the palm of his hand.

Mom had been on the dock still in her chair, demanded to know what had happened, and the two of them began moving hurriedly towards the car, with my injured brother and talking about the local hospital. Meanwhile I said, “Wait! I need to get a t-shirt and my shoes”, and I raced to the cottage to do precisely that. I scrambled in to a shirt, slipped in to my sneakers, ran to the front door, locked it, and hightailed it for the car. Only there was no car. They had left. As I ran to the private road that led to the municipal road, all that I could see of them was a pall of dust hanging in the hot summer air. They had left their seven-year-old son behind.  

At first, it seemed impossible, and I fully expected to hear the growl of rubber tires on gravel, and see dad hurriedly reversing to get me. But as those first several minutes dragged by, it quickly became obvious that I was on my own, and it terrified me. As I dejectedly returned to the front steps of the cottage, I tried to take stock of my situation; I knew the immediate area so I was not lost. I was hungry and the cottage was locked, that was a problem. The elderly folks in the next cottage 50 meters away were unfriendly but might possibly help me if I was in real difficulty. I knew the real problem was time, I knew from my own visits to different hospitals that it took forever to get help. I was a good swimmer, but I stayed away from the water just to stay safe. Late in the afternoon the unfriendly woman next-doorķ gave me a piece of fruit, which I truly appreciated, and early in the evening, they allowed me to sit quietly by, but not close, to their bonfire, which helped stave off the quickly cooling air.

It was now full dark, and it was cold. I was in a t-shirt and bathing suit; I needed long pants and a sweatshirt.  Finally, headlights cut through the darkness and dad’s car pulled in to his allotted parking spot. Mom and dad got out of the car and dad got my sleeping brother out of the back seat. I was down by the bonfire pit, trying to coax the last of the heat from the remaining coals for warmth.

I love to watch fairies dance in the coals

My mother marched to the cottage door, unlocked it and went in soundlessly. I followed dad at a distance, uncomfortable with the strange vibes coming from them. I watched silently as dad put my brother to bed, then wordlessly walk past me and walk out of the cottage. I stood there looking at my mother waiting for some kind of acknowledgement/explanation; I had been left alone for more than 14 hours.

I could not understand the look on her face, her eyes were glacially cold, her face icy, and the tone of her voice so cold that it sent shards of terror through my soul as she said and I quote, “how dare you tell people about our family problems”. I was dumbfounded; I could not begin to understand what she was talking about. That entire day, I had said nothing to anyone, about what was going on out of terror of her saying this exact thing.

Terror struck at where this was undoubtedly going, I wordlessly went in to my bedroom and got in to my jammies, and pretended to go to sleep, hoping that if I played dead she’d leave me alone and not beat the fuck out of me.  I was laying facing the wall, my back to the door and I could hear her enter the room, and out of nowhere, with no warning, WOMP! I screamed, WOMP! WOMP! WOMP! I had no idea of what she was hitting me with; this was different than her normal red stick. WOMP! WOMP! WOMP! WOMP! Again and again the blows landed, I was writhing trying to curl in to as small a target as possible, trying to cover up, trying to protect where she had hit already, someone was screaming I did not know who, it was probably me. WOMP! WOMP! WOMP! POP! As I writhed and rolled, her out of control blows connected with my skull. I was on my back, now unable to move, stunned, my arms and legs paralyzed in to the dog playing dead pose, the snapped in half blade of a wooden oar about two feet long was what she was beating me with, then connected solidly with my testicles.  

In that hollow timeless agonized moment my vision cleared, I saw clearly in her face how she mentally and emotionally shrugged off what she had just done and, determinedly decided to do it again. I had been hit in the nuts before, playing street hockey or other kid stuff, this pain was different, the agony here was ferocious, burning, tearing pain, she had done real damage and it would be five years before it would be repaired.

I remember nothing after the second blow to my testicles; I believe that she beat me unconscious. The following day when I awoke, it was the agony in my groin that woke me; my face and hair were stuck to the pillow with congealed blood from the head wound. I could not get out of bed normally, I had to roll on to the floor then inch my way on to my feet using the bed frame as a crutch, I could not stand up straight, I was bent over at the waist nearly double. I could not stand to pee, I had to sit, when I looked in the toilet bowl there was more blood than urine in it. That lasted for weeks, when I returned to school that September my urine was still pink.

That morning after the beating, dad was nowhere to be seen, mom looked at me like I did not exist, and my brother was too young to realize just how injured I was. The heaven I had known just 24 hours earlier had turned to hell thanks to the soulless she -cunt that my mother was.

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