We all played our role. Mom remained obedient, agreeable and avoided long conversations. She forced a smile at the dinner table, laughing carefully. It both frightened and confused me. I saw the difference without him around. The tension would instantly diffuse and we could be silly again, playful and laugh hysterically for hours. I took notice to how our smiles were packed away, stuffed in a box like a part of us that never existed, when he was home. I felt the fear she silently spoke, so I behaved accordingly. I followed her lead; like learning a second language. If I ever started to lose my cover, her eyes would grow wide saying “stop it” or “get it together.”
I knew she loved me because she was protecting me.