The most terrifying moment is Sunday night, just as the afternoon fades away.
It’s getting a phone call from a person who never calls, a call from a place far away, where time slips away and for them, it is not the afternoon but twilight.
It’s a harried voice, and you don’t know if you’re falling or if you’re floating because it’s a desperate – “Talk some sense into him”.
It’s screaming in the background you recognize too well because you spent 6 years of your life taking blows so that she never made that sound. Your sister, the girl your raised shouldn’t sound like that.
The most terrifying moment is choking back sobs when he throws the phone away, a breathless, solid “Fuck it all” the only proof that your words reached him.
It’s choking back tears again, burning them away when your sister is still screaming, and sobbing and her tears are bringing back memories of every drunken dispute you got between to protect her from blows she should never have aimed at her childhood.
The most terrifying moment is a stern calmness when you demand your mom to give the phone to her, to get her out of here. No one else seems to realise they’re allowing a child to witness all this. She doesn’t need to hear the voices using her as leverage. She already watched the event, she doesn’t need to be held to it.
It’s talking through her sobbing, gently coaxing conversation, drying tears with metaphorical hands only, reassuring and reaffirming things that were destroyed by frantic people in the downstairs living room.
It’s hanging up the phone six hours later, the ambulance there, the screaming stopped, and your sister finally, FINALLY falling asleep.
It’s having been asked only once if you were okay.
The most terrifying moment is being three thousand miles away, at three in the morning, too shocked to cry, still burning and unable to cry, waiting for the call back to tell you it’s all okay.
It doesn’t come though. Because you were needed for a moment. Just that single moment. You did your job. You were useful, but you won’t get that phone call. You don’t even get called to tell you he survived the night, and later the week.
The Most terrifying moment is being forgotten in the harried screaming of people who can’t handle mental health, and wondering to yourself… if it were you, who they’d call on a Sunday afternoon to look after your little girl?