Chapter V - Adam Branch, Present DayA Chapter by Suze
Testimonial from Michaela's brother, Adam
Adam Branch Present Day Everyone blames the rape for what happened with Mickey, her leaving and everything, but I think it started a long time before that. Our house wasn't an easy one to grow up in, not for any of us. Looking back, I think Mickey saw the most and felt it all in a way that Mike and I didn't. When Mike or Mickey would get into trouble, my main emotion was one of relief that it wasn't me. I didn't like seeing my brother smacked around or my sister pulled by her hair up the stairs, but all the same it was better them than me. But Mickey? Mickey cried more when Mike or I got hit than when she did. I've seen Mickey take the belt with little more than a whimper, she was always pretty stoic. But let Dad come down on me or Mike really hard and she'd cry herself to sleep. The day it started for Mickey was the day Mom died. When Mom had her aneurism, she was holding Mickey who was only 4 or 5 months old. Down went Mom and down went Mickey, who landed on her right leg; weakening it I suppose. They tell me Mom was dead before Aunt Cass could even call the ambulance. Then when Coco and King got promoted a year ahead to junior high Mickey took it pretty hard. She was left alone at the elementary school and after that could never really catch up. Coco got tight with her own bunch of girls, black girls who weren't interested in having a scrawny white kid following them around. She and King stayed pretty tight, but he was still a mile up the road at the other school. Making friends wasn't easy for any of us, it wasn't like we could invite anyone but Anthony or the twins home; but Mickey really had it the worst. Mike was the oldest, and the coolest. He was smart, athletic and had started puberty at about nine years old. I had Anthony in my grade at school, King and Coco had each other and the new friends they made in their gifted classes. That left Mickey pretty much to her own defenses. You can tell from the progression of Mickey's school pictures exactly when Dad decided that Mike was old enough to be in charge, and that it was stupid to pay Auntie J to come over anymore, or for us to go there. During the time she watched us after school Auntie J had tended to Mickey's long hair, laid out our school clothes, cooked us dinner, checked our homework, drew our baths and spanked our asses - anything we needed. Once we were on our own those things went undone in our house. All except the spanking part, Dad made sure he kept up with that. When Mick was in fourth grade, they took this class picture of all the kids and the teacher standing together, you know? All the girls were in dresses or nice tops, the boys had tucked in shirts and slick hair. Then there was my sister. First of all, her long, unkempt hair was as big a mess as it ever was. She was decked out in one of Mike's old flannel shirts which hung to her knees, a pair of jeans that had probably been mine, high top sneakers and to top it off she sported the remainder of a black eye that had faded to an ugly yellow greenish color. I was only in fifth grade when she brought it home but I could see immediately how badly she stuck out in that group, how she was the odd one out. Even now when I think about that picture I get a bad, squirmy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I'm pretty sure it was me who gave her that black eye. I think that what happened to Mickey was hardest of all on Mike. He was the big brother, the protector of the family. When Dad was drunk, it was Mike that stood up for us and tried to take the worst of whatever kicked off. Mike killed the spiders, beat up the bullies, braved the darkness of the basement and looked under the bed or behind the bathroom door for the monsters. When something came along that he couldn't protect us against, it really got to him bad. I think he would have killed Josh Haberford if we hadn't been there to stop him. Afterwards, when Mickey stopped talking? I was so pissed. I mean, we had fixed it, hadn't we? We had slain the dragon, conquered the evil lord, and banished the bad man. I just wanted it all back to normal. I wanted to come home from work in the evening from my crappy job and find my sister back in her spot on the couch, rolling joints and watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I wanted Mike to laugh with me again while throwing back a couple of Dad's beers on a Friday night instead of railing against the justice system and rich prick fathers who paid their kid's way out of trouble. I wanted to have to pretend that Mickey wasn't sneaking out of bed to go make kissy-face with Anthony in his back yard, in their secret spot under the willow once again. To make it worse, Mickey wouldn't testify. After the initial report to the police when she named Josh as her attacker, she wouldn't talk about it again. "It was a really bad fight." She would say, turning her face to the wall and closing her eyes. King wasn't any help, either. He didn't remember a lot of what happened, and some of what he did remember he apparently promised Mickey he wouldn't tell. The state had a decent case against Josh all the same, with the rape kit, the pictures of Mickey, and the statement of the school janitor who showed up early to mow the grass that morning. But they didn't have Mickey, so Josh got three years in a minimum security prison for aggravated assault, sentence suspended after 18 months. He never divulged who his partners in crime had been. But when Mickey left it wasn't just because of Josh Haberford. It was us, just as much as it was him. It was Anthony, it was Dad, it was the cold spot in the house that Mom's death had left behind. It was moving back home from Auntie J's and watching Mike sneak sips from his flat bottle while watching t.v. at night. It was Coco's coldness, Auntie J's silent tears, King's glass eye. It was me, trying to act like nothing had ever happened.
© 2012 Suze
Coming Around Again
About~Hi, my name is Suze - thanks for stopping by!~ I am a fiction writer mostly but have found that I have a taste for essays lately as well. I'm here to seek the opinions of other writers on my work, .. more..