The Key Essay

1436 words - 6 pages

It all started with a bracelet. When I was five, Michael Santiago, my foster dad, took a bolt cutter to my bracelet and destroyed my right hand. Even though my memory is fragmented, I was too young to understand that the family who opened their doors to me was going through some serious financial difficulties. Michael, had expected a boy to foster, when I arrived at his home he did not want me. His wife, Amy, convinced him to take me in. I love Amy even after all these years, though; I sometimes wish she had let the foster system take me away. I was three years old when I came to live with the Santiago family. My foster mother, who I still call my mom, cuddled, sang, and taught me my alphabets; even now I can remember that I had not spent very much time in Michael’s presence. He would hit me and Amy; at night I would hear the thunder of their voices echoing down the hall and the lightning sound of his fist against her body. I would cry from my cradle and sometimes it would stop them, and sometimes it made Michael madder. If he was in a drunken rage he would not only take it out on Amy, but he would take it out on me too. I would feel his anger against my face, stomach, arms, and legs, the more I cried the more he would strike; it was always Amy who would stop him. She would shield me with her body. Often in their fights words that I did not know the meaning of floated to my room, words like finance, money, and bastard child would drift up into the air and land in my ears, it would find me no matter where I was in the house; while I colored my books, played with dolls on the floor, or even half asleep in my crib. I knew some words that my mother would yell, like no food, or no milk.
On my wrist sat a bracelet, it was on me then when the Ranger found me inside a dumpster in the Smokey Mountain Forest. The bracelet, my only identification, is and was a small gold band with a sheen that reminds me of oyster shells. My name is inscribed in a beautiful script that reads: Maven F. Tempest, and above the name a small crown sits resting on the n and the t. What I did not understand then and do now is that my bracelet is magic. During the shouting matches and the punishing beatings I would feel the little bracelet tighten against my flesh, as if it wished to shield me, like Amy shielded me.
For two years I lived mostly in my room or in the kitchen where my mother would cook. On my worst night, the last night I would ever see Michael Santiago, I was in the kitchen, sitting in my booster seat at the kitchen table. Amy was washing the dishes and playing peek-a-boo with me with a dish towel. I heard Michael call for her somewhere down the hall. She kissed me and I saw her rush off. I do remember this, the last words I heard her speak, I heard her say, “Michael… no.” Then I heard a smacking sound and a thud, then the closing of a door. Michael walked into the kitchen, his eyes seemed black, his hair was wet, but I know now it was from sweat, he grabbed me...

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