Crystal starts off this chapter by musing why she believed her sister, Marella, got better treatment in the family than she did. She writes, “I thought it was on account of her lighter skin and more manageable hair.” She quickly adds, “Even though some in my family and society believed that lighter meant better I should have realized that they could not determine my worth.” (Mangum, page 75) Crystal’s next family reunion is going to be so much fun after this book was released.
Finally, Crystal can take no more of this horrible treatment from her sister and things reach a breaking point. One morning Crystal attempts to use the bathroom first and when her sister finds out, Marella flies into a rage. ” “No, I’m first!” she shouted. “Now wait for your turn!” ” (Mangum, page 76) Their father sides with Marella and then Crystal goes back to her bedroom to stew in her rage.
But it really wasn’t her fault, Crystal wants you to know. After all, “The problem was the hurt of constantly being disrespected was just too much for me to take.” (Mangum, page 77) Crystal decides that she needs to exact some revenge. And so she does. Because they really brought it on themselves, when you think about it.
“I violently ripped the sheets on her freshly made bed, stripping it bare. I whirled around and in a flash swept my sister’s belongings from her dresser and onto the floor.” (Mangum, page 77) Enter Crystal’s father who begins to beat her with a belt for ruining her sister’s possessions. She writes, “I could feel the whelps [sic] springing up all over my body with each blow.” (Mangum, page 79) She describes the beating in a brutal fashion, but given her allergy to the truth and need to make herself the victim, it leads one to wonder just how exact these memories are.
But Crystal doesn’t understand why her father would inflict such savage corporal punishment. She writes, “I was now feeling lonely and misunderstood. “Why is everyone always so angry at me and what did I do to deserve this?” ” (Mangum, page 79) As Crystal sobs in confusion, her sister takes another dig at her. Furious, Crystal decides that it wasn’t enough to destroy her sister’s things. Now she needs to beat the crap out of her, as well.
She writes, “I had to strike back at her and make her hurt physically like I had been hurt.” (Mangum, page 79) So round two begins. Crystal attacks her sister and Marella claws at her face until, “I could feel the blood running down my cheek in streams.” (Mangum, page 80) Her father reenters and continues to brandish his belt, but this time, Crystal is ready for him.
She manages to push her father onto the floor and just when it looks like she’s winning, her brother gets in on the action and puts Crystal into a chokehold. After the fight, Crystal’s thoughts turn to paranoia. “They were against me, and they would not and could not treat me as equal to my sister.” (Mangum, page 80)
To Crystal, the entire episode sounds like she’s fighting back against years of unfair treatment and oppression at the hand of her family. But to an outsider, it sounds like her family was desperately trying to keep a handle on a child with explosive anger issues that was a clear danger to herself and others. This behavior and need for vengeance, doesn’t seem to be addressed by her parents.
Moving on, 14-year-old Crystal starts high school. But she doesn’t fit in with the popular people and instead spends her time lamenting her cruel, cruel fate. ” “I wish I was beautiful,” I would say to myself.” (Mangum, page 81) As if it’s her looks that have been the significant problem in her life, thus far.
But since Crystal didn’t think that she was pretty enough to be part of the popular clique, she decides that she’ll study instead. Crystal makes the A honor roll and finally gets some of the attention that she’s been craving. However, she is dealt a shattering blow when her best friend, Nikita, suddenly stops talking to her. For no reason that is obvious to Crystal, her friend starts to ignore her and hangs out with other girls instead of being with her. Which again, is a situation that Crystal has invented. No one else in the history of high school has gone through this same thing and survived to tell about it.
Crystal ends this chapter with a prayer. “Oh God, please send me a special friend who won’t leave me in order to become popular. Send me a new mother who will understand me. Give me a father who will not always be away from home., I wish for a new sister and brother who would at least act like they wanted me around.” (Mangum, page 88) She doesn’t think to pray anything for herself. She’s fine, it’s everyone else around her that’s an asshole.
To read all of the articles in the Last Dance for Grace series, click here. Blogs are in reverse chronological order.