Christmas season came back around but was not going to be celebrated in her house. Not because she was a Jehovah’s Witness; she was not affiliated with them, but because she was a mean, old, fat, black-assed Grinch. Our Christmas presents came from the community who donated gifts to DCFS. Rose did not buy us a damn thing for Christmas. Raffeal and I were excited to see something we hadn’t seen in a while — toys. I was blessed with a doll and a youth cookware set in white that exactly resembled the well-known Conair cookware. The box the dishes came in would become a make-believe stove when you flipped it over on the other side. I would play with my dishes with excitement when I was able to play in my room until one day Rose had the audacity to tell me my cookware set looked real enough for her to really cook with them. She had that evil look in her eyes that was telling me to keep a close eye on my gift because they might just come up missing.
It was about this time when I thought enough was enough and decided I was going to break out from that hellhole. I had my great escape all planned. I was going to be out of that place! I got up one morning and Chicago, as usual, had another great snowfall. There was no school that day and I don’t even remember what story I gave Rose, but I knew I was leaving. I left the house and guess what? I did not include a destination in my plans. I had no idea where I was going or how to get to my family’s house. I just found myself sitting under someone’s stairwell thinking about how I could not leave Raffeal behind in the care of this woman. After a couple of hours of hanging out in the snow with no place to go, I had no choice but to go back to Rose’s house. When I returned to the house, Rose was waiting but I was caught by surprise when she did not have anything to say to me. I think she suspected what I was going to do and was trying to be cautious about her actions.
Her conscience only lasted for a day then she was right back at it with her endless rage. Rose was becoming more treacherous than ever before and really went off the deep end one day. In her bathroom, Rose had a maroon bathroom rug and dish set. She come stomping up the stairs early in the morning, waking us from our sleep, yelling and asking who had put a crack in the bathroom drinking cup. I promise you we never touched anything in that bathroom unless I was cleaning it. We told her we didn’t touch that cup, but she kept yelling that we were lying and we were going to learn to keep our hands off her things. Raffeal was in tears because we knew what was about to happen to us. She called us downstairs into the kitchen where we got all of our beatings. I noticed there was no cord in Rose’s hands and she was standing by the stove looking like a bat out of hell. She turned on the stove and told us to come over to it. My heart dropped because I knew at that moment this woman was about to do the unthinkable to us. I was crying and shaking my head from side to side trying to plead with her, but she demanded I stand in front of that stove and without a care in her heart she grabbed my right hand and placed it over the open flame to burn as a punishment. I screamed for her to stop burning me and would have done anything she wanted me to do if she would just stop. I could hear her through the pain asking me, “You gonna keep your hands off my things?” I screamed “Yes” from the top of my lungs. Then the torture ended but not for long, because Raffeal was next in line. My brother began screaming before she even said his name. I began crying even more because I would have to witness Rose placing my baby brother’s hand over the open flame. In my mind I was crying “he’s just a baby”. My heart was aching more due to once again not being able to protect him from danger. When it was all over, Raffeal and I were lying on the floor trying to comfort each other. Rose just sent us back up to our room as if nothing had happened. She burned us really bad and to this day we still have those burn scars to prove it. Both my brother’s and my burns developed painful blisters. Raffeal had a huge blister on his left thumb that was ready to burst any minute.
A few days after we were given third-degree burns by the pyromaniac, Rose dropped us off at one of her friend’s house to watch us while she ran a couple of errands. Her friend’s name was Ethel and her favorite hobby was jigsaw puzzles. Ethel had a wall full of the puzzles that she placed into frames like artwork. I thought it was unique. She seemed nice but then again she was friends with Rose. She looked at us with a strange expression when Raffeal and I sat on her floor in a corner but she continued to work on her latest puzzle. She asked us a few questions and then noticed that my brother had a bandage wrapped around his left hand. She curiously asked what happened to his hand as I secretly tried to hide my hand from her. Without a fear in his heart he told her that Rose had burned his hand on the stove. She looked troubled from what she just heard and I was sitting in that corner sweating bullets and ready to faint because my baby brother just signed us up for our deathbeds. Rose returned from her errands and was ready to take us back to the plantation when her friend Ethel asked her with the “I know you didn’t” look on her face if she burned my brother’s hand. Rose looked back at Raffeal like a dragon ready to burn him up completely and said with a straight face, “No, I didn’t burn that boy.” Ethel replied, “I hope you ain’t burning these kids.” Rose got smart and turned the table on my brother, bullying him into saying he was telling a lie about her. Rose told us to come on and the trip back to her house was very quiet.
Passed Around By Man But Not Passed Over By God Chontate Brown Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved.