Part 1 - Obituaries
So, it's come to my attention that you wanna hear about my life.
Where do I even begin?
The beginning. Right. Why didn't I think of that?
Oh ya, I guess I did...
Born April 21st, 1970, in Santa Monica, California, to Noah and Rose Sennen, my early childhood was what you might call happy. That's certainly how I remember it, all bedtime stories and Barbie dolls, up until I was nine-years-old. January 1st, 1980, 1:17 AM, to be exact.
But hey, who's counting?
That morning, at 1:15 AM, Ray Sarnecki exited Sharky's Pub, laughing loudly as he called his good byes to the bartender and stumbled to his car. His blood alcohol level was .15, far above the legal limit. Just two minutes later, Noah Barrett Sennen ceased to be.
Quote from the obituary of my twenty-seven year old father:
Death was instantaneous. He is survived by his wife, and nine-year-old daughter.
They were only half right. When Ray Sarnecki jumped the curb on 5th street, crushing my father's body between the front his red BMW and a solid brick wall, he also crushed the home pregnancy test that my father ventured out that New Year's Eve to buy.
Addendum to the obituary of my twenty-seven year old father:
He is also survived by the two fetuses that will, in eight months time, be his infant son and daughter.
After my father died, my mother had a breakdown. She attended his funeral, laying a handful of ivy on his grave (I'm told that it held some special meaning to them), and then she went home, and carved his name into her thigh.
She stopped living when he died. For eight months, I took care of her, doing everything for her, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and numerous other mundane chores that I was nowhere near old enough to be handling, but took on anyways because she was nowhere near fit. The worst, of course, was dealing with my mother herself. We fought. A lot.
I would beg her to get out of bed. She would tell me to mind my own damn business.
I would try to convince her to eat. She would yell at me for touching the stove, and refuse anything I put in front of her.
I would try to convince her to go see a doctor. She would throw things at me.
And then there was that final epic battle over whether or not I was gonna be able to haul her ass up out of that bed and drag her to a hospital to deliver my brother and sister. The phone had been cut off months ago, and we were living in a different, far crappier apartment where the neighbors had a strict policy of not displaying even the slightest of human courtesies, so there was no hope of getting an ambulance.
I tried to talk some sense into her. She cried, and screamed, and threw things at me for hours because she couldn't stand the sight of me.
Apparently, I have my father's eyes.
In the end, I lost that epic battle.
On October 23rd, 1980, 11:58 AM, I had the delightful privilege of being on the receiving end of a pink, screaming ball of goo who immediately proceeded to pee on me. At the time, I called him You Little Bastard. Later, the legal name Noah Barrett Sennen, Jr, was bestowed upon him.
On October 24th, 1980, 12:02 AM, almost exactly four minutes later, but still, oddly enough, on a different day and an entirely different zodiac sign, I once again got to venture into my mother's nethers and play catcher. As well as a fourth kick to the head, I came away from it with a second sibling, a little girl, who was even gooier than Noah, screamed three times as loud, and made yanking hard on one of the pigtails I was sporting that morning her first post-uterine act. She later became known as Judith Harper Sennen.
I made absolute sure that I had their times of birth right (I always was a bit weird with stuff like that, which I suppose you've figured out already), and I bundled them up, and took them to the hospital. I never saw my mother again.
The police came for her, but she wouldn't leave the apartment. There was still blood running down her thighs when she signed the papers to surrender her parental rights to all three of us.
To this day, even after everything I've been through, I don't blame her at all. Her soul died with my father. Unfortunately, the rest of her wasn't lucky enough for instantaneous. It was only last year I found out that on March 14th, 1984, 3:27 PM, Santa Monica PD received a call about a strong, pungent odor coming out of a third floor apartment.
At 5:01 PM, they pronounced her dead, even though it was quite clear that she had died some days, possibly even weeks, before that.
Quote from the obituary of my twenty-nine-year-old mother:
Rose May Sennen, reportedly a shut-in for the past two years, was found in her bedroom, hanging by her neck from the ceiling.
I really could've done without knowing that, but it's not like it surprises me.
I never cried. Did I mention that? Ya, guess I didn't. Not when my father died. Not once as I watched my mother make her downward spiral. Not even after I slowly came to the realization while sitting in the hospital waiting room with the horse-faced social worker that they were going to place me, Noah, and Judy each in a different home, and we would probably never see each other again.
You might say I'm heartless.
I say I'm dead inside.
There's a big difference.
Anyways, that last part wasn't even worth crying over, because it turned out that we weren't split up. That's where Jeremiah and Bernadette Cramner came in.
I'm still not sure exactly how they were related to us, but I think Uncle J was a second cousin, twice removed, on my father's side... Or something like that.
Uncle J was awesome. Ever since the first second I met him, he always had this real big, dopey smile plastered on his face. He was tall, like 7'2", and skinny as a lamppost, and, even though he was a grown man, already pushing sixty when I met him, he still moved like an awkward, lanky teenager. He had big, saucer-ish ears that always stuck out at near right angles from underneath his shaggy mop of salt-and-pepper hair, and his eyes were an incredibly dark brown that made his pale skin seem even paler by comparison. He loved licorice, and he loved basketball, and he loved me.
If it had just been him, life would've been perfect. I might've even had to do something about resurrecting my insides and making an attempt at becoming an emotionally well-adjusted individual. But, alas, there was to be no fun experimentation with inner-zombie-ism for me. There was Aunt Bernadette.
Ah yes, that ever-present, blue-haired tub of slime that made it quite clear she hated me from the start. See, the thing was that she was sterile. Her and Uncle J couldn't have kids of their own, had tried for over forty years without success. Receiving word that a distant relative was willing to plop two newborns into her lap was like a dream come true. Or, would've been if Uncle J hadn't insisted that they take me along with the terrible twosome.
I wasn't hers. Neither were Noah and Judy, but if I hadn't been there it would've been a lot easier for her to forget that fact and pretend that the bubbly pair had arrived screaming into the world from out between her legs. I, as she told me once shortly after we arrived, was a constant reminder of her failure as a woman.
Well, I guess I've depressed you enough for now, so how about we talk about something else? The twins. Even when Noah and Judy were babies I could tell the both of them were gonna be real heartbreakers when they grew up.
Noah was so handsome. I don't mean to sound biased, I mean, I know I am, being his proud big sister and all, but he really was! Despite still being that of a small child, his features were strong, and sharp, and he had a head of shaggy brown hair that was the same color I remembered Daddy's to be, and huge, brown eyes that you could just melt into. I knew that as soon as that kid hit puberty, he was gonna have all the girls just fawning over him.
Even if his looks weren't enough (I've got the urge to find him and pinch his chubby, freckled little cheeks just thinking about him), that personality of his would most definitely be more than sufficient to get him through life. That boy has always been sweeter than candy, and so outgoing that I've had to pull him away from random conversations with shady-looking strangers on more than one occasion. He'll march right up to anyone, young or old, tall or short, potential serial killer/pedophile or not, present his hand, and state proudly, "HI! I'm Noah! What's your name?"
Cute, huh? And he's always been very protective of Judy and me, although, she's always needed it a lot less than I do if you're going by sheer attitude. I'm strong, but in a quiet sorta way, and only because I've had to be. Even when she was little, Judy was strong, but in a far-too-bitchy-to-be-a-toddler, I-don't-care-that-I'm-puny-I'll-take-you-on-right-now sorta way.
It's because she looked so angelic, with her big blue eyes, long golden blond ringlets, and rosy little cherub cheeks. Adults and other kids underestimated her, and then they'd piss her off, and then they'd get the crap kicked out of them. Even when she was too little to do any real damage, she'd still try her hardest, and getting kicked in the shins, or having your ankles bitten hurts pretty bad.
But my little tomboy was still a sweetheart. Not to the extent of her brother, but she had her moments. I'd play catch with her for a few minutes, or put braids in her hair, and I'd get rewarded with her cute little smile, and a sloppy kiss on the cheek.
You laugh, and I kill you.
Anyways, back to my story. When Bernadette wasn't ignoring me, she was telling me how worthless I was. When she wasn't telling me how worthless I was, she was working me into the ground. When she wasn't working me into the ground, she was shutting me up for days at a time in a very small, very dark, very scary closet. I carry with me to this day the claustrophobia I acquired from her twisted punishments. Uncle J, God bless him, wasn't around much during the day, and sometimes went on week long business trips, leaving us alone with Bernadette. He never caught on. I really didn't have the heart to tell him what a bitch his wife was.
See, I told you, not heartless.
Anyways, when it comes right down to it, I suppose I owe Bernadette. However awful she was to me, she was three times as great to Noah and Judy. They got to spend the beginning of their lives in a loving, (somewhat) happy home.
Living with J and Bernadette was odd and trying, but not entirely unbearable most of the time. We had to move from Santa Monica to Paradise, this dinky little hicktown up north with just two main roads, and more trees than people. Aside from Bernadette life was alright. That is, until January 16th, 1981.
I was ten, and the twins were five months old, and it all happened really fast. J came home around 6:23 PM, like he always did. I was sitting on the living room floor. Noah was asleep in my lap, and Judy was on the couch behind me, playing with my hair. Actually, she was practicing the knot tying J had shown her the night before, but I was too beat from spending the entire day hauling bags of soil from one end of the backyard to the other (and then back again when Bernadette decided that she liked them better where they were) to care. Hey, I was just thankful she hadn't decided to put me in the closet that day.
J walked in, just like he always did, and he hung his hat on the hook by the door, like he always did, and he smiled his big dopey smile at me, like he always did, and he said, "Hey there, beautiful. How was your day?"
I felt uncomfortable at being called beautiful, like I always did, but still smiled, like I always did.
And then I lied, like I always did, "Just great Uncle J."
"Glad to hear it, honey," He said as he walked through the living room, ruffling my hair as he went for the kitchen to kiss Bernadette, like he always did. He never made it.
I didn't even know that he'd collapsed in the doorway until Bernadette screamed. I'm still not sure if he fell quietly, or if I was just so tired from all the work I did that day that I was too out of it to hear.
The paramedics pronounced him DOA at 6:39 PM. I wasn't there at the time. I'd been shoved off into Noah and Judy's room, and I was watching them, holding Noah in my arms and scolding Judy about what she did to my hair, when I heard Bernadette scream. I knew. And I looked at the clock. Like I said, 6:39.
Quote from the obituary of my sixty-two-year-old great-second-cousin,
twice removed (or something like that), on my father's side:
Cause of death was a massive coronary episode. He was a funny, kind man, and is survived by his wife, two nieces, and nephew.
By that time, I was developing a distinct, and quite pronounced dislike for funerals. I know what you're saying, 'DUH!', right? True, but still...
In spite of all that, I never cried, and I think that just pissed Bernadette off even more. She bawled quite constantly for about two months, then she started expressing her grief in different ways, two of the most obvious and memorable ones being heavy drinking, and hitting me with her cane.
With J gone, she no longer had to worry about her hate for me leaving marks.
And leave marks she did, lots of them. I was one of the most scarred ten-year-olds I knew, not that I knew that many. As if my home life wasn't bad enough, I also got picked on at school. I was a bit of a bookworm, shy, anti-social, pessimistic, and weird... Still am...
But it was alright. I could deal with the teasing and getting beaten up at school, and I could deal with Bernadette doing the same at home, because I had always expected that she would go there eventually, and because she still loved Noah and Judy, and still treated them with all the kindness they deserved.
It wasn't until she struck Judy across the face with her cane that I decided to leave. She was drunk when she did it, and Judy was being her bitchy, annoying little self, but it was still inexcusable. And it was one of the first times I had seen Judy really cry. It was heartbreaking.
Again, not heartless.
My first runaway attempt, April 15th, 1986 went horribly. The cops picked me up only five blocks from the house. I guess I stood out, a ten-year-old carrying two toddlers down the street in the middle of the night, looking blank as she realized that she had no idea where to go.
Bernadette was not kind when they returned us to her. You wanna see the scar from the six inch gash she put in my side?
Anyways, I learned from my mistake. The next time I was much better prepared. I actually had a plan. Let's just forget the part where almost none of it went as I hoped it would...