Wednesday 8 October 2008

Teenage tears

“You slapped me!” Magda exclaimed.
Her father backed one step down the stairs and gazed at her cheek. Three weals appeared where his fingers had struck her. He did not know what to say. As the adrenaline dwindled in his bloodstream, his rage ebbed away and left him with an empty feeling of guilt. In his entire life he had performed no similar deed, in fact, no thought of domestic violence had occurred to him before. But his daughter's face didn't mince matters: from this moment on, he was the kind of man that man that wreaked his fury on his family. Her left cheek blushed and her eyes glimmered with tears of terror.
“I hate you lot!” Magda shouted. “You don't love me, I'm a mere doll to you! You use me to brag at your dinner parties, and you think you can switch me off when no one is watching! I thought my education meant something to you,” her voice broke.
She lowered her eyes to hide her tears, and looked at the book she clasped to her body. A Greek dictionary. She had been translating Homer in the living room when her mother came dashing in. Magda's friendly request to keep it quiet went down the wrong way. Her mother coughed and pretended not to have heard it. Magda hated to be ignored. She raised her voice and said she was trying to study. This kindled her mother's anger, and before she knew it her father interfered with their dispute. Of course he made things worse, but she knew no way to share her insight, other than to tell him to shut his trap. In a rush he chased her up the stairs, where she turned to face him. And that's the moment he hit her. A tear dripped on the cover of the dictionary. Magda tightened her grip and inhaled before she continued.
“But you don't give a damn! You are complete phoneys, both of you!”
From the doorway, her mother watched them without saying anything. Although she knew that Magda had a point – she should have respected her daughter's diligence – she felt no guilt or regret and stood aloof. If someone would ask her why, she would be unable to put her finger on it, but in a way she had expected an escalation like this. Magda had been unmanageable for weeks; she had it coming. The mother tried to hide a smile when she realized how glad she was that she hadn't been the one to strike her intractable child. In vain, for Magda looked her right in the eye.
“I hate you I hate you,” she repeated. She lifted her book as if she expected her father to strike once more, and hid her distorted grimace behind it.
“Darling,” he muttered as he tried to comfort her. But Magda avoided his kind gesture, she duck under his arm and bolted down the stairs towards the front door.
“Where do you think you are going?” her mother yelled, trying to stop her.
“What do you care?” Magda said. “I'm sorry for the inconvenience I have caused, you must be thrilled to hear I will stop pestering you. Goodbye.”
“Listen to me, young lady!” This time the mother raised her voice, like the father had raised his hand. “If you walk out of that door without apologizing, there is no coming back! No way that we would tolerate this kind of behaviour!”
“Fine.” The gruff and determined sound of her own voice took Magda by surprise. “I wasn't planning on it.”

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