Johnny’s 8th birthday was coming up on a Saturday in November. He wanted to have a few friends over for cake and ice cream.
There was flu of some kind going around at school.
We gathered around the kitchen table for supper, on time as always. Suddenly, Johnny jumped up, darted around the back of Mother, around me, and fell on the floor between me and Father. Johnny landed face-up, and was pointing at his puffed out cheeks. Apparently he had tried to make it to the bathroom to vomit, but he was not quick enough.
Johnny kept pointing at his cheeks. Finally Mother came over, and Father said “Let it out, it’s ok.” He finally relaxed and let it out onto the floor.
My brother was so afraid of getting hit, that he tried not to make a mess on the floor when he was so sick.
“Here Bridget, I bought you a present for your birthday. I hope you like it.” Nana held out a small wrapped box. I tore open the wrapping paper, and inside was a velvety box containing a ring. “It’s your birthstone. It’s a ruby.”
I picked up the ring, and looked into dark red stone. It had cuts in it like I had seen in Mother’s diamond. “Thank you, it’s beautiful,” I said. I put it on my finger and looked into the glistening stone again. It seemed to reflect the light from the kitchen ceiling lamp. I moved the ring back and forth slightly and watched the light bounce around inside the stone.
Pain in my lower abdomen awakened me. I shivered and pulled the blankets closely around me while I debated whether to get up and answer nature’s call—the bathroom was on the other side of the house—or fall back to sleep. The pain intensified, causing me to throw off the blankets. Cold air descended upon me. The pain pushed me to get out of bed, hurry down the hall, down the stairs—being careful not to step on the creaks—across the house, and through the kitchen. As soon as my feet touched the icy slate floor by the back door, I pulled down my pajama bottoms and took a step and squatted down to sit on the toilet. I expected to feel the toilet seat against my buttocks but instead felt water and heard a splash as my private parts were submerged in water.
I jumped up, turned on the light, and gagged when I saw the foamy urine in the toilet. Father had pissed in the toilet without flushing and without putting the seat back down. I grabbed a wash cloth, ran it under the faucet, and took a bar of soap and scrubbed myself as if I would never be clean again. With the pain still prodding me and with my hands safely inside the wash cloth, I pulled the toilet seat down. I winced as I finished my business.
I had to walk through the kitchen to go back upstairs. There was left over cake from after supper calling to me from the cake pan. I lifted the lid of the cake pan and ran my finger along the bottom of the icing. I licked my finger; the sugar soothed my tongue, and it tingled on its way down my throat. My finger traced the icing again and I licked the chocolate deliciousness. My brain began embracing the excitement, hope and life. I grabbed a knife from the drawer and cut a sliver of cake. I grasped the piece with my fingers and popped it into my mouth. More taste buds danced on my tongue and inside my cheeks. I inhaled. My brain stepped up to another level of comfort. The sugar enveloped my brain as it swirled and removed the pain of the day’s insults, hurts and failures. I grabbed a fork from the drawer and shoveled bits into my mouth. My brain woke up more nerves within my head and embraced me in calmness and complacency.
I put the cake lid aside, and walked over to the cabinet and opened the door and grabbed a plate. I opened the pantry door and grabbed the peanut butter. I went back to the cake plate, cut a large piece and threw it onto the plate. I opened the peanut butter jar, used the same fork, and slathered the peanut butter all over the top of my slice of cake. I shoveled this into my mouth and the fat and oils of the peanut butter mixed with the cake and icing and my mouth was filled with a jumble of flavors. I thought this must be what it feels like to be normal, happy and loved. I rolled my head back for just a minute. Oh please God, can I just feel like this all the time…
A sudden thump on the stairs alerts me that I’m not alone. Creak, thump, creak, thump. I stood alert, inhaled, and pulled my shoulders back.
“What the hell are you doing?” Father’s voice broke the silence. “No wonder you’re so fat. Get back to bed.”
I scraped the last forkful from my plate, scooped it into my mouth, and ran to the sink and rinsed off my plate. Father muttered under his breath as he walked towards the bathroom. My heart thumped; I inhaled again and ran upstairs back to bed.
I got into bed, rolled onto my left side, grabbed the blankets and pulled them over me. I pulled my legs in and huddled into the fetal position. Someday he’ll be dead, I thought to myself, and he won’t torture me anymore.
I felt a warm spiritual presence comfort me, both outside of me and inside of me in my heart. I called this presence God, but I wasn’t sure. Was I just imaging it?