Margaret shares her journey of faith and trials in her new book,
A Trial of Faith: When the Devil Knows Your Name.
Margaret is a woman of faith, and seeks to live her life based on her faith in Jesus Christ. She has discovered that there are men who seem hell-bent on destroying those who seek to live their faith. In her book Margaret takes you on her journey, side-by-side, as she resists the forces of evil that use every earthly power to divide and destroy.
READ CHAPTER ONE, then decide if you want to read the entire book.
Aunt Monir faced me sitting in the warm water, speaking and playing as we splashed a little, enjoying the fun. We could hear as a car pulled up and parked, the door closing a moment later. The front door of the house opened and closed, and a minute later the raised voice of rage echoed up the stairs and found us in our watery sanctuary. The voice pounded and reverberated, soon joined by a chorus of breaking glass and ceramic. I was scared, and could hear my mother’s voice crying. She never fought back—she knew that would be an irreversible mistake. I moved slightly, and my mouth began to form a sound, but my aunt’s hand raised slowly out of the water, and I watched droplets fall from her finger making individual splashes below as she put it slowly to her lips. After a moment she whispered, “Don’t say anything.”
We sat motionless in the bath for another minute while the tempest raged below us; but fear overtook me and my body began to quake. I shook involuntarily and my aunt, or Ameh, which is Aunt in Farsi, reached forward and put her arms around me saying, “It’s okay Baby. Please, just don’t say anything.” I was comforted only slightly because his heavy footsteps drew quickly closer, but I tried to keep as still as possible. The bathroom door suddenly burst open with explosive fury and my father’s foot made an unwelcome entrance into the room coming to rest violently on the cold tile floor. My aunt Monir stood in the tub and grabbed a towel sitting on the countertop beside us, covering herself and saying to him in Farsi, “Brother, I’m naked—I have no clothes on, and Margaret is here, and she is scared.” She was just reaching full stature in the tub as the last word left her lips, but she didn’t have a good grasp on the towel, and it slipped and dropped, revealing her naked body again. She immediately bent down to pick it up as he stepped forward and raised his boot violently, catching her in the face, directly across the nose. She flew from the tub and landed on the floor, blood draining quickly through the broken nose that was smashed sideways. He took another step toward her, and he kicked her. She tried to get up, but he kicked her again. She attempted to move away but he landed a fist to her face, then another to her chest. The beating continued, pounding her in the face, and he wouldn’t relent. I watched in pure horror as my beloved aunt atoned for some unknown sin at the hands of this devil. I shook and wanted to collapse, and winced with each violent blow. After another minute he was exhausted, and turned and walked out the door, screaming at my traumatized mother to take Monir to the hospital before she bled to death. She was to lie and say the poor girl fell. Before they could leave, my dad barked for Monir to put the children to bed, so he wouldn’t have to worry about it.
My mother and Monir were gone that night, and I lay in bed with my brothers, fearful that the wolf would return and eat us alive. I kept assuring them, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Don’t worry, he’s not going to hurt us.” He kept coming to our room and opening the door, peeking in to make sure we weren’t doing anything to threaten or undermine him. I lay under the blanket shaking uncontrollably, and prayed that he would not look at me, and see me quaking, and know that I was awake. I tried to stop the shaking, but I was physically unable to control myself. “Oh God,” I prayed, “just help me be still so he won’t see that I’m awake.” I prayed it for hours.
When the light finally came, I heard my mother return with aunt Monir. My dad must have left by then, because I heard the women speaking in hushed tones about him. “I must leave,” Monir said while my mother cried and pleaded with her. “No, I cannot live this way any longer. I must go.”
“Please don’t leave me alone with him,” I heard my mother’s voice plead.
“I have to leave. I will die if I stay here.”
“Where will you go?” my mother asked. In fact, even at the age of ten I knew that the women had no friends outside of our house. None of us did. We were all secluded, sequestered from life and hidden from friends. That was one of the ways he kept us all prisoner in his cruel little kingdom—he controlled where we went, and who we saw. He allowed nothing that might possibly infringe on his absolute control over all of us. We were isolated; imprisoned. We were in this together—a happy family under the spell of this religious warrior fraud.
I stayed in bed and listened to their muffled conversation through the walls. I heard tears, and fear, and pleading, and I prayed that my Ameh would choose to stay with me. I prayed that she would not leave me behind with the devil. I heard light footsteps coming up the stairs and I watched the door open. It was my Ameh. I instantly saw the sadness in her blackened eyes, even behind those bandages. “Margaret my little darling,” she whispered as she crossed the room and came toward me. “Margaret my baby.”
“Ameh,” I whispered in a panic. “How are you? I’ve been so worried about you Ameh.”
She looked at me through the mess that had just hours earlier been her pretty face. Her darkened eyes squeezed together and tears ran from the corners and disappeared into the gauze. “I have come to tell you goodbye little darling,” she said.
“Goodbye? Where are you going Ameh? When will you be back?” I asked naively.
“Oh, little baby,” she cried as she sat beside me on the bed. “I must leave. I can’t stay here any longer.”
“Please don’t go,” I begged her. “No, please stay with me Ameh.”
We were both crying, but she shook her head and said, “I have to go. I can’t be here any longer.”
She would not mention my dad, or what he had done to her, but simply pressed, “I must go Baby,” without laying blame where it belonged. I cried and I pleaded with her.
“Take me with you, Ameh,” I blurted, seizing the thought.
“I can’t. I have nowhere to go,” she cried all the more as her anguish shook her to the core. “Baby, you are not mine to take,” she said, trembling and crying.
I begged her not to leave me. She had been my ‘mother’ as much as my mother had been, even more; I could not let her go. It was impossible for me to live without my Ameh. Who would help me smile? Who would protect me? Her hands trembled as she held me close and whispered, “I love you Margaret, my little baby.”
I wept as she kissed me goodbye, turning to walk away through my bedroom door. I heard her unsteady footsteps clamor down the hall, then down the stairs. There were women’s voices and pleading below, then the door closed and it stopped. I listened, but heard nothing more. After a minute there were muffled whimpers that arose like the death wail of a weak animal expending its very last breath before finally expiring. A few more murmurs, a soft cry, then silence. Even Mom had given up. Ameh was gone. It was over. We would now be left alone when the devil returned.
* * *
My mother, Rita Valdez, was raised in San Antonio, Texas. My dad, Ahmad Hosseini, was an Iranian Air Force pilot who came to the states for flight training, and met my mother during off-duty hours in San Antonio. They dated, and my mother became pregnant with me. Being a Catholic girl of Hispanic ancestry, she felt compelled to hide the shame of her pregnancy from her parents, and followed my dad to Iran where she lived with him and his family. My dad decided to marry her, which although the proper thing to do, brought with it some possible jeopardy. He tried to keep the matter as discreet as possible, but when the authorities scrutinized the paperwork, questions were asked, and he was jailed for the crime of marrying a non-Muslim. My mother was befriended and constantly waited on by my dad’s sister, Monir. Monir was a sweet and lovely young woman, and she was a true friend to my mother. She was treated horribly by her family, however, and was expected to clean, cook and serve, as though she were the lowly hired help. When I was born in 1974, my dad allowed my mother to name me, and she gave me a sweet Latina name—Margarita. I was called Margaret, and I was a Hosseini, which carried some weight in Tehran, Iran. My Ameh helped my mother to take care of me, and the three of us were inseparable for the next ten years of my life.
My mother was cautious, even concerned, about raising me in the social environment of Tehran. She could see how most of the women were treated, and began to understand that things would eventually be the same for her baby girl if the little family remained in Iran. She explained to me later that she saw women being treated as personal property—like goats—freely beaten in the streets without any bystander giving the flogging a second look. She felt the arranged marriages were a nightmare for many of the young women, as young as 12 years of age, and began to plan how we could leave that country. She convinced my dad that there would be better opportunities for us all in America, and he liked the idea much better than the jail he had been in, so he worked a deal with the government that he would take his infidel wife and leave Iran if they would release him. The government relented, and my mother and father brought Ameh and me with them and started a new life in San Antonio.
My mother had felt that being away from my dad all that time had been cruel, but soon learned that it had been a heavenly gift. The fledgling marriage began to falter as he frequently visited with other women. My mother spotted signs of infidelity, and thought the proper thing to do was confront him. My dad felt that he was entitled to any extramarital privileges that pleased him, and when my mother complained, she quickly found that a fist to the eye or nose was her reward. His cruelty increased, and my mother was tightly controlled through regular beatings and threats to do worse.
Although my mother continued to bear my dad’s children, not by choice, she shrank from her roles as wife and mother, and my Ameh began to be my comforter and caretaker. My dad’s abuse was poured out on my mother, and then Ameh. He screamed at them, called them horrible names, and beat them regularly. The women both feared for their lives, and Ameh did her best to protect me from the danger. To safeguard me from the violence, she took me daily to the parks, and to the public swimming pool in the summer. I was away from our home as many hours of the day as possible, and all of that daily exposure to the sun rendered my Hispanic-Iranian skin as deep a brown as possible, causing some to think I must hail from India.
My brother Morteza was born in 1978, when I was four. All of my brothers were given proud Muslim names—Farsi names. Farsi is the language of Persia, mostly Iran. Morteza was called Marty by most of his friends. All of my brothers had these Persian names, and American nicknames. I asked my mother why I didn’t have a Farsi name, and she told me that my dad had allowed her to name the girl. That’s when I understood. The girl is of little value in that world, and it doesn’t really matter what you name her. So even the disrespected mother is given the right to name the baby if it’s a girl. Morteza was followed by Motahar, or David, in 1981. He was followed by Mahtub, Matt, in 1982. He was followed by Mahmoud, or Moe, in 1983.
My Ameh continued to care for all of the children, considered by my dad to be the permanent nanny.
Things became worse after Ameh left. My dad blamed my mother for letting her go, and beat her harder for it. He became even more cruel and controlling, if that were possible. To the outside world he was a good husband and a doting father—he delighted in showing us off to his few friends. He even kept us in nice houses, always rentals in the event of a quick departure. But he cared little about providing us with food or other basics. He locked us in, and allowed very little contact with the world. Friends were closely scrutinized, and limited. Sometimes there were none. If my mother developed a friendship, she would keep it from him. The minute he suspected she had a friend we would be immediately uprooted and moved to a new rental. One time he moved us all the way to Phoenix, Arizona. We eventually returned to San Antonio, however.
Two years had passed since my Ameh had left us, but I understood that she was still in the San Antonio area, so I began to look for her, contacting some of the Iranian women I knew about. I dialed 411 and asked for the numbers of the names I had heard. Sometimes the operator was able to find them and give me the numbers. I eventually found someone who said she knew where Ameh was, and she said she would ask my aunt to call me. I waited by the phone and it finally rang.
My dad had been out of contact for four days by then, and he had not provided us with any food, so we were hungry. My little brothers were especially hungry, and I didn’t know how to feed them. When my aunt called me I was so happy to hear her sweet voice. So much time had passed, and so much violence and cruelty had been endured. Now, like a voice from beyond, or a lighthouse’s beam during a stormy night, my Ameh’s voiced pierced the dark and she said, “Margaret?”
“Yes, Ameh. Is that you?” I laughed into the receiver.
“Yes, Baby. How are you? How did you find me?”
We talked for a while, and she asked about all of us. I told her what had happened, and told her that I wanted her to be with me. She cried and said that she could not live with us, because she was so filled with fear. She wanted to help us, but thought she would be killed by her brother if he found her there. She asked for our address, and told me she would call me back in an hour. In a little less than an hour the phone rang, and Ameh said, “There’s food on your front porch. Get it and feed the boys. You eat too, little darling.”
I felt better after that because I knew that I could always talk with my aunt on the phone whenever life became too unbearable. Of course, my dad never knew we were in contact with her.
The next year I turned 13, and one day I called Ameh, and during our conversation she confided that she had met a man, and they were planning on being married. I was so happy for her—the thought that there could be a life after leaving my dad encouraged me. My mother had been grateful that Ameh had been bringing us food when we had nothing, and spoke with her on the phone at times. At one point she mentioned to my dad that his sister Monir was planning on marriage. He showed some interest, and suggested that they should welcome the couple into the family—after all, he was the grand patriarch of the family in America, and it fell to him to welcome the new brother. My mother was skeptical that he would treat a new man in the family with respect, but Father assured her that he had changed his attitude about Ameh and that it would be his duty and honor to meet her new man and welcome him on behalf of the Hosseinis.
It was arranged that Ameh and her new man would come to our home and my mother cooked a good dinner with food that my dad provided from the store. The couple arrived and they were greeted and invited to sit with us at the table. At one point my dad spoke up and said to Ameh, “So you are getting married?”
Ameh looked at her fiancé then at my dad, and said, “Yes. Aziz and I are getting married.”
“Well you haven’t asked my permission.” My dad’s face was stone cold, but we all hoped he would smile and break the tension. It never changed. He glared at her while he awaited her reply.
Ameh looked around nervously, then at my dad again. Finally, she gave a little laugh and said, “Brother, I am your sister, not your daughter. Of course I don’t need your permission to marry. Aziz is a good man, and I have chosen him.”
My dad said, “I forbid you to marry him.”
Ameh just looked back at him, and said, “It doesn’t matter. I am marrying him.”
My dad sat there looking at them for a moment, then he got up and leaped at Aziz and grabbed him by the throat and began to strangle him. Although my dad wasn’t a large man, he was ferocious, and acted like an animal—a predator. He pinned Aziz against the wall and was choking him out, and Aziz did nothing to resist him. I didn’t know if he was afraid, or if he had agreed with Ameh ahead of time to do nothing to provoke my dad’s wrath. But Aziz did nothing to resist the attack, and just took it. Ameh jumped in the middle of them and pulled on my dad from behind, freeing her fiancé, and they ran through our door and out of our lives. My dad shouted after them, and began to beat my mother for her failure to control my aunt. Again, it was her fault. My aunt was so frightened of my dad that they moved to the state of Oklahoma. We did not see her and her new husband for another five years.
After Ameh left, again, my dad became even more violent toward my mother. When he saw that he could only inflict a certain amount of pain on her physically, but wanted more, he turned to his children, seeing that our pain hurt her even more. The occasional beatings for what he felt were good reasons now became frequent, with no cause. He just beat us randomly and cruelly to watch the pain in her tears. He would line us up and make us stand there for a moment in front of our mother, and we would all be filled with anxiety because we knew what was coming. Then he would scream at Mother, then at us, and would beat us, one by one, reducing us each to a pile of pulp on the floor before her. She wept and pleaded, and he only laughed at her pain.
When my brother Marty was five years of age, he was frightened at our dinner table, as my dad berated my mother and threatened her over our soup and crackers. I tried to console him quietly, but he was visibly scared, and drew my dad’s attention. My brother’s had been frightened of our father their whole lives, and they called him Chucky because he was so evil, like the little doll in the horror movies. ‘Chucky’ approached him slowly, like a predator approaching his weak and wounded prey. He said, “Come with me,” and waited for the boy to follow him.
Marty was frightened and he said, “I’m still eating, and I want to stay with Margaret.”
Chucky prowled around him and looked at the boy, his wild eyes filled with disgust. Without warning he suddenly grabbed my small brother by the shirt, yanking him out of his chair and with a twist he threw him hard against the wall. Marty slammed into the wall with great violence and fell to the floor, slumped in a small, pathetic heap. Blood ran from his left ear, and he was deaf in that ear the rest of his life.
So many times I tried to talk my mother into leaving Chucky, telling her we could go to live with her parents—our Grandma and Grandpa. She would explain to me that they had long ago told her that she had chosen a bad man and they would not support her in her choice. She was on her own, and they would never involve themselves in the horrible fate she had chosen for herself—and for her children. They were cold about it, and had simply written her off. They certainly had no desire to take her in and care for her and her five half-Iranian children with that madman threatening on every side.
Chucky did everything he could to inflict pain on all of us—especially my mother. He played a cruel game where he would choose one of us children and tell us to get into the car, then tell my mother that she would never see that child again. On one occasion he took my young brother Marty and threatened to hide his little body where no one would ever find him. He tormented my mother by taking Marty by the hand and walking down the street with him, looking back to sneer at her.
I knew that he was a sick bastard, and had learned at school that men cannot treat their family that way. “Call the police,” I told her. “Call the police now, before they’re out of sight.” To my surprise, my mother picked up the phone and called the police, telling them that her husband had taken her son and had threatened him. The police arrived and questioned her, and we could see Marty and Chucky through the window at a distance still. The police left the house and went up the road toward them. Mom was upset, and I told her, “No Mom, this is our chance. They will arrest him, and bring back Marty. We can leave.” My mother was very frightened, but I convinced her that justice would be on our side, and they would take the devil away.
We watched as the police talked with Chucky in the distance, and wondered what it meant when they got in their car and drove away. Chucky returned with Marty, and was so angry, that he put us all into the car and drove us out into the countryside, without speaking a word the entire time, and pulled into a field near some woods. He pulled out a pistol and put it to my mother’s head, screaming at her, and told her that if she ever did anything to defy him, or ever talked to anyone else about him, he would kill her, and each of us children. He played out this scene for quite a while, basking in the warmth of his cruelty, pushing us to the very brink of emotional collapse. We survived that night, but what little spirit my mother had shown lately was gone, and she hid deep inside her shell after that night, and became completely silent to his abuse.
I became more disengaged from Chucky, and he could see the defiance in my eyes. His wrath was turned upon me, and his violence as well. He began to torment me, and touch me in unwelcome, inappropriate ways. He was a living monster.
I had become a star at school, getting perfect grades, and reading interesting books all the time—having no friends or pleasures in life except for books from the school library. I knew how to survive, so I could paste on a happy face and pretend that life was bearable when I was around Chucky’s friends and business associates. He was very successful, and made a lot of money. His home improvement companies were cash cows, and his success afforded him the prestige that he constantly sought. It didn’t surprise me that he was so successful in business, because I knew that he had none of the moral limitations that keep most people from doing anything necessary to win every deal and ensure every outcome. He was a winner, the winner, and anyone who stood between him and what he wanted was in for a hard landing. He knew no boundary. My mother was of no use to him publically, so I was taken to functions and dinners, and paraded like a prized show pony. Chucky would regale his guests with tales of his wonderful wife and children, and I was the living proof of every lie he told. I sat often with him at business dinners, dead on the inside, but bright and alert outwardly, nodding and agreeing, and delighting his guests. He was so proud of this daughter, who would run his business one day he would say. They were so impressed. When I was sometimes called upon to reply to his gusts, I would answer, but lack enthusiasm, or would respond in a way that could reflect the truth of the matter if anyone was really listening.
“Why do you look so sad?” the wife of the businessman asked me. “You are such a beautiful little girl, but you look so sad. Why? You have such a wonderful family, and a loving father. He is an amazing genius, and he adores you—yet you look so sad. How is that possible?”
I looked at her nonplused and simply replied, “I couldn’t sleep last night. I had some bad dreams.” The truth was that my entire life was a nightmare, and I prayed constantly that I might wake from it and find myself in a lovely home with a good father and strong mother. What I had said was not lost on Chucky. He looked concerned and said something comforting to his dear little daughter. When we got into our car, he slapped me and screamed, “Don’t you ever embarrass me again like that! Do you hear me?” He hit me several times in the face, to drive his point home, and said, “If you ever speak like that again, you won’t live to see another day!”
If only his admiring friends could see him now.
As he hit me he demanded to know what I meant by having bad dreams. I told him that I’d been having bad dreams, and that’s why I was so sad. I just told him whatever I could to appease him, so the beating would stop.
I had a teacher named Mrs. Echols. She was very kind to me, and spent a lot of time with me, helping me to feel safe and comfortable in my otherwise nightmarish life. She let me help her grade papers, and I would sometimes stay after class to assist her. I noticed that she had a few crosses around in the classroom, and she kept a Bible on her desk. I asked her what the cross meant to her, and she told me about the sacrifice of the Savior, Jesus Christ. I asked her what religious book she liked to read, and she said she read the Bible. All of these things were new to me. Although I had a very strong feeling that there was a God, the only religion I had known was that of Chucky. The way he practiced his religion, and the way he described his vision of life and how to live it, I wanted nothing to do with his religion or his holy book. Mrs. Echols was a much different story. She was kind and gentle, as I imagined a person of a loving God would be.
“The Bible, huh? I want to read it then. Where can I find one of these?”
She smiled and said, “If you want one, I can get you one.” The next day she had one for me, and I took it and began to read it. I hid it between my mattress and box spring so Chucky wouldn’t find it. I knew it would be the cause of tremendous pain if he caught me with a holy book that wasn’t his.
Chucky stopped pretending that he didn’t have girlfriends, and would bring women home—sometimes to live with us. Many days he wouldn’t even come home, and we assumed he was staying in hotels, or perhaps he had other rentals where he kept his women. At one point he didn’t come home for a month, and my mother had no options. We had no food and no money, and she walked the three miles to the nearest grocery store and wrote a check for food, not knowing if there were funds in the account to cover it. Her brother found out how destitute we were, and he told her it was time to sever ties with the devil. He invited us to move in with them while she divorced Chucky. I told her he was right, and that we needed to get away from Chucky. She thought about it and decided to file for divorce. When he was served with the summons and complaint for divorce Chucky got an expensive attorney and filed for custody of the children. I guess none of us would expect any less of such a man. He would show up at our family’s house and torment them, threatening and harassing as only he could. I hated him, and was the happiest I had been at any time in my life.
One day I got off the school bus and I looked over and saw him standing nearby. My heart beat hard in my chest as I wondered what I should do. Before I could form a plan, he looked directly at me and motioned for me to come to him. I felt I had no choice but to at least walk over to him. As I stopped in front of him he said, “You cannot live with your mother. You must come with me and live with me.”
I was silent at first, wondering what made him think I would prefer to live with the devil over my kind family and mother. “No,” I replied.
“You will come live with me,” he said with arrogance.
“No, I will not.” I turned to leave him.
“You will. I assure you,” he said. He seemed so confident that I hesitated a moment to try to learn why he seemed so sure of himself about such a preposterous declaration.
“No,” I insisted. “I won’t come and live with you. Why would I do such a thing?”
I watched his eyes for a moment, and found nothing that appeared to be human inside. Then he furrowed his brow and looked deep into my eyes and told me, “If you don’t come and live with me I will kill your mommy, and I will kill your brothers, and I will kill your mother’s family. I will kill every one of them. And it will be your fault. I will slit their throats and they will bleed to death, and you can watch them die, and it will be on you.”
I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure if he would actually follow through with it, but then I recalled his cruel violence against my mother and aunt, and decided he probably would.
“Mommy won’t let me come live with you,” I said, thinking that maybe the court proceedings would supply a good obstacle to his demand. He didn’t blink at this.
“There is a court hearing coming up in a few days. If you don’t want your mommy and your little brothers to die horrible deaths, you will say that you want to go and live with your daddy.”
I wretched at that thought. My stomach churned, and I tasted bile in my throat. I knew what he was, and the last thing I wanted was to be a captive in his sick world. I was scared, and my mind raced, trying to think of a way out of this. I certainly didn’t want him to kill my mom and brothers, or my uncles and grandparents. He would do it. I was certain he would. He was a sick and twisted bastard, and there were no limits on what he was capable of and willing to do.
“I’m scared . . . of leaving my brothers alone,” I added, thinking better of admitting I was frightened of him.
“Don’t worry about your brothers,” he said. “You will be able to see them.” Then he narrowed his eyes and I saw evil perched on his brows as he said, “But if you don’t come and live with your father, your mother and brothers will all die within the week.”
I didn’t know what to do. I thought I should tell someone what he was doing to me, and threatening to do to my family, but who could I tell? Who could withstand his evil? He would kill anyone who stood in his way. He was an animal, without a soul. He talked of God, and he read from the Koran and insisted that we all worship and praise Allah; but he was a devil, perhaps the devil as far as I could tell. I couldn’t see any escape from this horrific nightmare that he was forcing upon me. I had to trade my own life for the lives of my loved ones. It was a bargain offered by the devil himself, and I had no choice but to accept it.
When I got home I pouted by myself for a while, thinking about what Chucky had said. I watched my brothers at play, thinking how innocent they were, not knowing what I was facing. They were so alive, so child-like, and I wanted them to remain that way. I looked at my mother, who was usually frightened and quiet. Now she was smiling and joking with her brother and his family. I had rarely seen her so relaxed. I wondered what would happen if I told her what Chucky had said—what he would do if I didn’t ask to live with him. I thought about it for a day, then the next day I came home from school and when my mother mentioned that we would all be attending the hearing the next day, I knew what I had to do. My gut tightened and my throat wanted to gag and give up the contents of my stomach.
“Mommy,” I said quietly, “I have to talk to you.”
“Yes, Baby,” she said. “What do you want?”
“I’ve . . .” I couldn’t think of how to say it, so I waited a moment. “I’ve been thinking.”
She looked at me, waiting to hear what I would say. After another moment she said, “Yes? About what?”
I cleared my throat and said, “About the divorce.”
She looked at me sympathetically and put her hand out and stroked my hair. “Oh Baby, you don’t need to think about that. That’s adult stuff. You’re just thirteen. You don’t worry about it.”
She was uncommonly comforting, and I was drawn into her delusion for a minute. Then the sight of Chucky’s horrible eyes came into my mind, and I knew that my mother’s false sense of safety was not a reality in my world—or hers. I had to follow through with this. “I . . . I’ve decided that I want to live with Daddy,” I said, surprised that those words could even be produced by my mouth. I had never called the monster Dad or Daddy.
“What?” she narrowed her eyes and looked down at me.
I knew I had to sell this to her, and the rest of the family. If I didn’t, they would all be lying dead in their own blood soon. Of that I had no doubt. The devil knew their names, and they were marked for death at his hands. “I’ve been thinking about it, and I want to live with Daddy,” I repeated.
“No, no Baby. You can’t live with him. You know how he is. You’ve seen what he’s done. He’s done it to you too. He’s a monster. Why would you even think that?”
She was right, and she didn’t even know how much he’d done to me. But I knew what he would do to them if I didn’t convince her. “I want to live with him. I can’t stay here. I can’t live in this house with our family. I want to live with Daddy.” I was firm, and I could see the shock in my mother’s face. It was more than shock, more than fear. I saw terror in her eyes. Yet, I was telling her that I would rather be with that monster than with her, and the look on her face told me that my declaration cut her deeply. He had told her how worthless she was for so long. As bad as he was, she must be worse, and my desire to live with him was all the proof she needed. Tears ran down her face, and she said nothing more. I was a lost cause. She would save the boys if she could.
End of Chapter One . . .