My Lullabies

I was tired of hearing it
Their whispered arguments all night long
Always in the night
When they think we are sleeping
When they think their children won’t hear
They don’t want the children to be hurt by the words
The whispered words are only for each other
But I hear their hushed words
These words are the only sound I hear in the night
The nights when they argue
I hear, and I wish I couldn’t
I wish it would stop but it won’t
I hear and I see
In the mornings their eyes
Tired, puffy, and swollen with lack of sleep
Their eyes are like mine
These nights I get just as much sleep
As they do
And in the day
Everything goes back to normal
Pretending the night didn’t happen
And if one of the children says that they heard them fighting again
The reply is
“Mom and Dad were just having a discussion
No one was fighting, you must have been dreaming”
I’m tired of hearing it
But in a way, I don’t want it to stop
Because if it stops it means one thing
When they are together the fighting won’t stop
If it were to stop it would mean only that
When that word comes through the night to my ears
I cringe
I hate that word
It would change everything in my life
That word burns like bleach down my ears
But then I think that maybe it would be better
Maybe they would be happier
Maybe the nights would be silent again
These thoughts pound in my head
All night long
Until I’m not sure
If it's my heart or my head
That’s pounding
The arguing continues through the night
Their voices getting louder and louder
Until something reminds them of how quiet the night should be
Then their voices drop to whispers again
Maybe they would stop if I ran down the hall to their room
Maybe they would remember they have
A family
But I don’t go down the hall
I just lie in my bed, frozen
Waiting for it to end
But it won’t, not until the morning
It continues
Until I hear the beeping of my father’s alarm clock
Reminding him it's time to wake the children for school
Their voices drop to barely audible whispers
And then it's over
The argument stops before he comes down the hall
Stopping at each room, waking the children
He enters my room and I shut my eyes
He shakes my shoulder gently and simply whispers
“Wake up”
When he walks out of my room
I open my eyes and stare at the dark ceiling
I drag myself out of my bed and down the hall
To the kitchen
My brother and sister are there
They have the same eyes that I have
Tired, puffy, and swollen with lack of sleep
The same eyes that my parents have
It makes me wonder if they hear the arguing too
But I will never ask them
We don’t talk about the arguments often
It's better not to relive them
But to forget them
Push them into the very back of the mind
Ignore them
My parents do this
When the children are around
Everything is how it should be
One big happy family
Most of the time it seems that way
And most of the time I pretend it's that way
When I start to think about the what-ifs
And that word
That one word
My mind steers the other way
Saving those thoughts for the night
It’s not every night that these arguments happen
Not even every week
But often enough to make me tired of hearing it
Often enough
I’m tired of hearing it

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