Safe Haven

Standing back, focusing the camera, I zoom in on my two beautiful children. It’s a cold winter morning and the dew is filling the thick air. I take a deep breath and the chilly frost comes soaring up my nose and down into my throat as I take in the sight. Chatter and laughter echo in the barely brightened old barn. Their presence makes everything warm and I watch as my baby boy clings onto the tire swing for dear life, vulnerable to the world around him. If only he knew how difficult life could be! My little girl’s squeals of excitement rip through the calm morning air as she pushes her older brother. Her striking beauty and affectionate heart will soon captivate anyone she ever meets. She will grow and flourish and so will my boy. Soon they won’t be mine any more; I wish they could stay like this forever. I don’t want them to be exposed to the world, this hard, cruel world. A world that can do more harm than scraped knees or monsters under their bed. A world where they will leave me and venture out by themselves, for now they are mine, mine to treasure, in a world filled with magical princesses and Power Rangers. In this world they are protected and safe, loved and cherished.

If only in my upbringing I had the all encompassing love and boundaries my children did. I was alone, dreaming of companionship and freedom. I was locked in a world where I knew nothing beyond my front door, trapped. Screams and horrendous profanity spread around me like a contagious disease and I constantly pressed my tiny hands to my ears, determined to block out the noise. I was always waiting for the stalemate to take place between my parents. Violent threats filled my father’s alcoholic alter ego and deteriorated my mother’s faith. A night of distressed cries and agitated fights left the house filled with an air of bitterness and pessimistic regrets. Eventually, my father was gone for good, though the remains of his existence could be found upon my mother’s face and within her broken heart. Her irresponsible state of mind kicked in and she brought home vile men in an attempt to obscure her unbearable anguish. There he stood, high and muscular, breathing out Mexican heritage. He was the man who robbed me; my innocence was taken from me. All traces of my dignity were gone in a matter of seconds and my childhood wasn't far behind. My body and soul weren't intact any more; they’d been ripped apart by his egotistic desperation. I was 9 years old.

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