03 December 2011

Where's Waldo

As a small child I was so proud of myself for accomplishing “developmental” milestones. By early kindergarten, I knew how to tie my own shoes, read small books, and not only wipe myself, but button and zip my own pants after using the toilet.

This last one was a pretty big feat as far as I was concerned. It meant that I was grown, a big girl. I didn’t have to yell for the teacher after doing my business like some of my classmates had to. It meant that I didn’t have to risk that oh-so-embarrassing, “oops, I wet myself waiting for someone to undo my pants” moment.

Time passed, and I grew more confident of my self-toileting skills. I knew how to use the bathroom and more importantly, I knew when I had to use it. I could plan it; time it just right so that I would never have an accident.
I was a big girl.
Second grade was here before I knew it. My arithmetic skills were improving, I was learning cursive—I was learning the art of “spot the different kid.”  
There was at least one in every class, and spotting them was like playing “Where’s Waldo.” You’d look around your classroom every day for the first few weeks of school to spot them. To find that boy or girl who, although they looked somewhat normal, had an amazingly bizarre habit that could not be ignored.
These kids seemed oblivious to the fact that their eccentricities were on display for the world to see. Maybe they did know, and enjoyed the attention, the stares, whispers and giggles. On the other hand maybe their desires were so great, so blissful that they forgot the world existed, forgot that others were watching wide-eyed mouths gaping.
There were two “Waldos” in my class this year, both girls. They were very similar in appearance. Both had brown hair always looking in need of a good washing and combing. In addition, they both had an odor that made you wonder if they often urinated on themselves and never really cleaned up afterwards.
The one’s habit seemed to revolve around ingesting items which were of crunchy, yet still slimy consistency, like boogers, or Elmer’s Glue. The booger thing I get, many kids eat their boogers. The glue thing left me a little puzzled.
I’ve seen many children eat paste, and it was as if it was an automatic response to the presence of this gritty white substance. They’d sit there shoveling it in while adhering cotton balls to a paper plate in attempts to recreate the beauty of a sheep’s face. Almost like eating the paste was just a part of life for these children. Not my Waldo.
She would sit, blocking out the entire world, methodically squirting the glue onto the lid of her pencil/art supplies box. She would start by making a border around the entire thing, and then fill it in, slowly, carefully.
I would be watching this, thinking to myself, “Why is she doing that? Is she going to eat it again? Does she think it tastes good?”
She would leave her case open, letting the glue air dry all morning.
I’d glance over periodically wondering, “Is she going to eat it yet? How does she know when it’s ready?”
Come early afternoon, dinner would be served. She’d start peeling away at the slightly coagulated white feast she had prepared earlier that morning. Peeling slowly, taking her time to get a decently sized piece on which to dine.
The other Waldo was way more curious.
She had a love, a tragic attraction to the corners of hard objects. The corner of desks, her chair, bathroom sinks. It didn’t matter what the material was, if it was hard, she wanted it. She would sit and writhe on the corner of her chair, rub her private area on the corner of her desk or the sink in the bathroom. It didn’t matter who was around, who was looking she did it, almost compulsively.
Once, she was standing at Mrs. Stewart’s desk grinding and rubbing up against the corner of it—while the teacher was sitting at it!
It went on for what seemed like an eternity before Mrs. Stewart finally noticed her and said, “Stop it, go sit down!”
“How embarrassing,” I thought, “the teacher caught you and pointed it out in front of the entire class!”
Mrs. Stewart, my teacher, had to have been in her mid-forties to mid-fifties—which seemed ancient to me at that time. She was a short woman with stereotypical mid-eighties big hair (big ALL over and super curly/teased looking), and large framed glasses which covered the area of her face just above her eyebrows down past her cheekbones.
The glasses anyone born in the eighties has spent many years laughing and commenting on when seen in photos of friends and loved ones. The same glasses which are for some reason popular again and these same people who snickered now think they are super cool when these ginormous frames are perched atop their own nose?!?!?!
Anyway, Mrs. Stewart was a great teacher. She was informative, she would joke around with us from time to time, and she’d put us in our places if need be. She seemed like a knowledgeable and fair woman…
Until she crushed my innocent spirit, and embarrassed me in front of all of my classmates.
We had certain times designated for bathroom breaks this year. It would be announced that such time had come, and we’d line up, boys on one side, girls on the other and travel across the hall to the multi-stall bathrooms. We’d use the bathrooms, make a mess with water, splashing and smacking while washing our hands like elephants bathing in the Serengeti.
One day, I didn’t have to use the restroom, so I spent my time grazing at the drinking fountain. Lapping up the clear tasteless flow of deliciousness as if I’d spent the last forty years wander through the Sinai wilderness—

Bad idea.
We returned to our classroom and our seats to continue the day’s lesson. I was learning. I was staring at the Waldo’s of the second grade when it hit me.
Oh nooooo!
I shouldn’t have drunk all of that water. I should have tried to use the restroom even though I didn’t feel the urge to expel the contents of my bladder at the time. I am going to get into trouble if I ask to use the restroom now. There is no way, I thought, the teacher will let me go. I have to wait, have to hold it until lunch. I can do it.
I sat there squirming in my chair, writhing like Waldo upon the corner of the plastic seat trying to form a barrier through which the urine could not pass. It worked—for a few minutes.
Before I knew it, a warm sensation was growing between my legs, spilling onto the floor in an amber colored puddle. I couldn’t stop it. Once the action was put into motion it had to continue until its end, until every last drop had been expelled.
I hung my head in defeat.
Within minutes I heard my name, “Jamie?”
I ignored it.
“Jamie?” I heard once again.
I had to acknowledge her. I looked up at the teacher, thinking maybe she just wanted to ask me what ten minus three was. Thinking maybe neither she, nor anyone else in the class had noticed yet. I could make it until lunch time. I would just grab paper towels after recess and clean up the mess. Done. Nobody had to know but me!!!
False hope.
The teacher, insensitive to the look of complete shame in my innocent, big blue eyes said, “Jamie, will you come up here please?”
Please God, don’t do this to me.
I began the walk of shame towards her. Walking past the desks of my classmates, inner aspect of my jeans a darker shade from my crotch down to my shoes, I kept my head low. Maybe they wouldn’t notice who I was. Maybe they were all too busy eating glue, or crayons or cutting their hair with safety scissors to notice that somebody was up and moving.
Maybe, if only my sneakers hadn’t been squeaking, as if announcing to the world, “Look at me. I’m indoors where it hasn’t been raining, which must mean I’ve been resting in a golden pond of humiliation. Look at me!!!”
I reached the spot where she stood and looked up at her. She said quietly, as if her volume made a difference, “Turn around.”
Turn around!?!?!? Why would I want to turn around? If I turned around I could no longer fool myself into believing that nobody noticed. If I turned around, I would be exposed to the stares and gaping mouths of my peers. The same peers who giggle and smirk at the Waldos with me, peers who tease the Waldos for having pee-pee-pants.
She repeated, a little louder this time, “Turn around.”
I spun slowly towards the crowd of awestruck faces, head slung low, glancing up expecting to see a few snickering faces, fighting back the tears, wondering what had I done, again, to deserve this…
Her hand gently patted my rear-end while she said softly, “Go down to the nurses office.”
My nose was practically scraping the floor at this point, as I noisily walked towards the door.
The nurse’s office was in the library and was more of a cubical, open to the viewing, judging eyes of the world. I sat there atop an orange plastic chair lined with brown paper towels while the nurse tried reaching my mother.
“Yes,” I thought, “she didn’t answer. Now she’ll have to call grandma, and grandma won’t be mad.”
She reached my grandmother, who never having learned to drive sent my Aunt Marsha to pick me up.
At my grandmothers, I was treated as if nothing had happened. I was given lunch, and cookies, and love, as if I was still the perfect little girl I was earlier that morning. It was nice.
I was playing in the living room when I heard her speaking on the phone. I heard her say the words, “had an accident” and instantly knew to whom she was talking. I ran into her bedroom, and quietly pick up the receiver to spy in on their conversation. I heard my mother’s voice say, “Really?” sigh, “I’ll be right over.”
Oh no. Is she going to be mad? Will I be in trouble? I’ve never done this before. What happens to a little girl who knows better than to wet herself?
My mom was there within minutes. I walked out to the car, glancing back at my grandma hoping it wouldn’t be the last time I would see her.
The three minute ride home was in silence. We pulled into the driveway, my mom looked at me and said, “When you get into the house, go straight to the bathroom and take a shower.” There were no reassuring comments like, “Oh honey I love you,” or “It’s ok, it happens to everybody at least once.” There was nothing to make me feel like I hadn’t become a disgrace to the family, the talk-of-the-town.
I walked into the house, and as instructed went directly to the bathroom, hoping the shower could wash away the stench of dishonor streaking my legs.
I came out, wrapped in a towel, expecting to put on play clothes, and spend the rest of the day recovering from my ordeal.
Not even close.
My mother had my favorite dress sitting out. A white cotton dress with small red velvet hearts freckling it, which came paired with a small red velvet vest. It had spaghetti straps, and the bottom was three ruffled tiers. I loved it. I felt so special and pretty when I wore this dress. Maybe my mother just wanted me to feel good about myself. Maybe she wanted to help me to forget, to cope with, the events of the day.
As usual I was wrong. My mother had me put on my special dress, white bobby socks and black dress shoes. She put my hair into a ponytail and affixed a pretty red bow at its base—and informed I was going back to school.
Why would I want to go back there? Why would I want to step foot into the classroom where it all happened? The odor probably hadn’t even had time to dissipate, let alone the dampness of the tile to dry.
Didn’t she understand that I was a Waldo now, and that meant I’d spend a lifetime being laughed at and whispered about? I didn’t want to return to the same school, let alone the same classroom! Couldn’t I just switch schools? Why did she always insist on torturing me, as if she had taken a vow to ruin my life?
She dropped me off; it was recess. I walked slowly across the lot towards my friends playing on the jungle-gym. I feared what they had to say. I feared that they’d laugh and point fingers.
Almost to them, they called out, “Jamie, come play!”
Did I hear them right? They were happy to see me. They called me over to join them. They didn’t hate me!
I ran over towards them, smiling in disbelief, and started playing. One of them turned to me and said, “You changed your clothes. It’s a pretty dress.”
They didn’t even notice! Nobody did. Nobody cared. Nobody laughed or joked. It was like it never happened. As if a girl changing her clothes from jeans to a dress midday was the norm.
The rest of the day happened as every other had. No laughing no snickering. I didn’t get my lifetime membership card to the “Where’s Waldo Club.” Even when I got home, my mother didn’t mention it. She didn’t tell my father nor brother. She kept my secret. She did love me!
That day, I learned that although you should never pee your pants, you get one free pass. You get one chance to have an accident, and not be ridiculed or tortured for the rest of your life. I had used my get-outta-jail-free card, and swore that I’d never find out what happened if you did it twice.

27 November 2011

Skeleton secrets...

I’d previously had a very long and poorly written post about the presence of ghosts (spirits, demons, whatever you want to refer to them as) in my childhood home…it was horrible. This one will not be  better constructed grammatically, but should be a little less boring and rushed. 
Take two.
As a child, I was awakened at least a couple times a week by this creature, this thing with green glowing eyes envious of the apparent innocence of my small frame. Long bony fingers ataxically creeping up the foot of my bed, growing ever more near to my being.
Cries, bellowing cries heard by none, not even me.  Fear had paralyzed my legs, arms, vocal chords, but not my awareness.
I would lay there, frightened, praising God, pleading with God. I would lay there trying to move, trying to control my breathing—trying to gain control.
It wasn’t just cloaked by night’s slumber that my “friends” came out to play. They came whenever. They hung out as glowing heads in the shower. They presented as tall sad persons looking for hugs, looking for someone to help them. As old women confused by the new equipment in their kitchen, and angry fathers beating their children in the basement’s corners.
I wasn’t the only one to see them. School friends were exposed (some would never return to my home again), as well as my mother and her friend.
...and my home wasn’t the only one on the block.
My next door neighbor and I were frightened of our homes as children. We would be at one's home, hear noises, thumps, moans, screams. We would see shadows moving in unusual ways. We’d run, screaming to the other’s home--no solace was to be found. It was as if the terror of our homes were connected. We’d end up stuck standing in the middle of the street which separated our homes, frozen by panic, hockey sticks and butcher knives in hand.
There was a room in her basement which had been boarded up as long as she could remember. Neither her older siblings, nor mother knew what was within or why it was “closed.”  My basement had a hallway which ended with oversized concrete steps leading outdoors, and was separated from the rest of the basement by a thick, heavy steel door which opened with an initial thud followed by the typical creaking door noise heard in horror films. Inside the hallway were two rooms. One, long and very narrow, was lined with shelves, and assumingly used for storing jars of canned items of some sort. The other can be described no other way than a single prison cell. A cell which had the barred door and the bars from the window removed. It was cold, with a very low, maybe 6 foot ceiling, with concrete walls and floor.
The creep factor of these homes, of this period of my life cannot be explained to, understood nor appreciated by many. We couldn’t accept it as a product of our imaginations, like many adults wanted us to believe. We created our own explanation.
My home, sat on property owned initially by a gentleman with the last name of Lambert, who was a physician at the time (this is true as far as we know). There was a cemetery only 5 houses down which gave us a good picture of the death rates in the neighborhood, and the house across the street from hers was inhabited by the ghost of a young woman who had hung herself from the stairwell—and this is where the story began.

Dr. Lambert was having an affair with the young woman across the street. Sometime after its conception, he was asked to abandon his wife to live happily with his young mistress. He declined her pleas, and shortly thereafter, she hung herself from the stairwell of her parents’ home. Upon finding her swinging, pale body, they called for “the doctor”. He rushed over, cut the body of his lover down from the beam of death, but could not manage to revive her. He was crushed; brain was flooded by grief, by what-ifs, by guilt.

He snapped.

My home, his at the time, was where his practice was for the most part. It was where he mixed the medicines, tonics and potions of the early twentieth century. It was where he helped, cured, healed. After her death, it, the basement mostly, became his chamber of torture, of revenge. Angry with his world, his god, his cowardice, he declared to dedicate his life to finding human weakness.

The room we felt was a prison cell was used for such. Straw on the floor, patients were kept. Weeping, screaming, pleading, confessing, they were kept until he operated on them. He thought he was helping them. He truly believed that he could change, better their lives by finding the source of their weakness, their pain, suffering and removing it.

He was never successful. He had a room of body parts, and organs in jars of varying sized lining the shelves of his canning room, yet none of them contained what he hoped it would. None of the patients’ lives were improved—they were simply lost.

His madness grew. His hunger, his desire to cure mankind consumed him. He ran out of space in his own place to store the bodies, the caverns of human ailments, and struck up an agreement with the man next door (my neighbor’s house). His home was the community ice house (this is fact), and for a considerable fee, a fee only a physician could possibly afford at that time, he rented an entire room to Dr. Lambert.  This one single room would be used to store his experiments, experiments the Icemaker was initially unaware of.

Dr. Lambert became increasingly reclusive, and lost within his own world. Deaths were mounting in the area, and people were beginning to question their physician’s competency.
Come early fall, he transported another unsuccessful experiment to his special room at the Icemaker’s, and, as he had done so many times before, locked the door and affixed a board to its exterior. Within a few hours the Icemaker heard movements beneath him, heard subtle moans. Investigation led him to the door rented for years by the doctor. He leaned in, pressing his ear tightly to it. His mind had not deceived him; he had indeed heard movements and moans. Without thought he broke into the room, the room filled with a madman’s refuse. Bodies, mutilated and dismembered, were stacked atop one another, and were piled to the ceiling in some spots. The ice normally frosted and pure looking was painted with the remains of Dr. Lambert’s inflicted terror and pain.

Townspeople were called for in the night. The story was told, was heard. They gathered their torches, their shovels axes and sickles and marched through the street towards his residence. Busting into the home, his wife and children huddled together in fear as they hollered for him, yelled threats and obscenities. They found him in the upstairs bathroom, rope tightly bound about his neck, hanging, swaying from the beams in the ceiling.

This was our explanation, the only one that helped us to comprehend, to make sense of the oddities that consumed our nights, and fueled our fears. It became a part of our reality—and remains so.

29 October 2011

and everybody dies.

I recall being about seven-years-old, lying sick on the couch, longing for the tender touch of my loving mother to help ease the discomfort of my currently congested and febrile state, when she entered the room, and sat next to me.

“Yes,” I thought, “she’s going to baby me, comfort me!”
She sat next to my small, sickly frame, looked at me oh so lovingly and said, “You know everybody dies right?”
What!?!?!? What was she saying to me? What were these words? Was I dying? I thought it was just a cold. An excuse to stay home from school, eat soup, watch cartoons and be babied. What was this she was talking about? Death? I didn’t even like the sound of the word!
My look of uncertainty about and fear of the topic must have been mistaken for a look of, “ooh, tell me more…” for she continued.
She expressed again, that everybody I loved would die someday, and that once they did, I would not be able to see them any longer. I recall asking her how long it would be until I could “see” them again--bad idea. 

Instead of realizing that she needed to dumb this down a little, word it in such a way as to not arouse a sense of terror in her youngest child, she proceeded with her lesson in as frank a manner as she started.
She further explained to sick, seven and now scared me that when people die, they are gone for good. Reiterated that once everyone I love (her, my father, my grandmothers, my brother) dies, I will never be able to see them, talk with them, nor hug them again; NEVER! Oh, and she didn’t stop there! She made certain that I understood my own mortality. She in no way allowed me to have the false belief that I was immune to this thing, this fate she termed “death.” I was made to understand that I too, like everybody I knew, and would someday know, would cease to be, would cease to love and be loved.
I forgot that I was sick, that I was home from school, lying around, watching cartoons. I only knew that while others were laughing with peers, and playing at recess, my world was crashing down around me. I didn’t want to be sick. I didn’t want to be having this conversation with my mother. I didn’t want to be laying there, my eyes wide, pupils dilated with fear.
Weak from illness, and feeling trapped by my mother’s presence, I mustered the courage to ask her "when". When would my everybody, my family, my world die. When!?!?
Without forethought (again), she informed me that she couldn’t tell me. That nobody knew for certain when their life would be over. That it could happen tonight, tomorrow, next year, or even seventy years from now. That uncertainty was why I needed to know about it right then, why she wanted to prepare me for the loss of my loved ones at such a young age. She wanted to be certain that I understood this so I “wouldn’t be surprised or sad when it happened.” Her father, whom died when she was sixteen, prepared her for his death, and instructed her not to be sad, nor to cry when it happened; she wanted to do the same for me, and expected the same from me that he did her.
Boldly telling your child, ill at the time, and only seven, that everyone in the world, everyone in their egocentric little world, including them, would die someday doesn’t seem like a good way to prepare them for life’s atrocities! Springing this on someone so young—nothing good could possibly come of it, nothing.
I voiced my understanding of life, more so of death, with the hope of bringing it to an end more quickly. I figured the more questions I asked, the more confused I looked, the longer she’d torture me with her words, with her facts of life!
It worked, she stopped talking. I promised her, as she requested I do, that I wouldn’t cry when she died. She leaned in, kissed my forehead, and wandered into the kitchen to make me soup. Tomato soup, which I hated. 
To her it was no big deal; it was as if nothing had happened, nothing significant. For me? Ha! It was the beginning of “the end”…for everyone I loved.
That night, and nearly every night after for the next year or two, I would fall asleep thinking of a loved one dying. I would lie there nightly imagining the death of a certain loved one, and cry. I would be sobbing, face first into my pillow, or stuffed animal of the week, snot running everywhere. I would imagine the death of one person at a time. Each night I would cry less and less for this person, and when I couldn’t cry for them anymore, I’d move on—it was someone else’s turn to die.
Within a year or two, I felt confident in my ability to deal with the deaths of everyone I knew in a “mature” and “adult” manner. I was certain that I would be able to keep my promise to my mother, that I wouldn’t cry for the loss of her. In addition I made certain that I wouldn’t cry for anybody. I told myself that I’d be strong and well prepared for the death of everybody I love; I believed it—until the fall of 2009.

Everybody bleeds...

When I was young, very young, my mother taught me all of life’s hard lessons. She held nothing back. Sugar coated noting, worded nothing in age appropriate terms. She simply presented me with these lessons, and left me to decipher them, to deal with them as I so wished.

It was tough.
In fifth grade, my elementary school decided to hold an assembly for every child in my grade regarding the “differences” between the sexes. I can’t be certain why they did such, nor what they hoped to accomplish, but they did it (I’m sure parents today would have a fit over such a meeting, fearing that it would plant the seed of promiscuity in their little ten-year-olds). I think they even went so far as to bring a presenter in from outside of the school to host this!
I recall sitting on the floor in the gymnasium with one-hundred other small children while this man projected anatomical drawings of the female and male sex organs onto the wall. Information about females starting their menses was provided. Material about the growth of body hair, development of breasts, deep voices and body odor signaling the onset of puberty, in both males and females, was being thrown at us.
The snickering and whispering were non-stop.
Sitting around me were other small children, some of whom were making assumptive comments about peeing after sex to avoid pregnancy, and if you have sex while the girl is on her period, pregnancy will not occur. I, having been taught the lesson of the “birds and the bees” years earlier by my mother, had to kindly inform them that all of this was nonsense. That regardless the acts during and after sexual intercourse, if penetration occurs after a girl has become “fertile,” pregnancy is always a possibility—they just stared at me for a moment before continuing with their banter.
Three years later, I was the only girl I knew who didn’t freak out when I started my period. I knew what it was. I knew that the three, yes three underarm hairs that had sprouted, and fuzz that formed “down below” the summer before were sure signs of the monthly crimson tide to come. I started my menses, began using my mother’s sanitary napkins (without needed instructions), and went about my business. It was nearly a year later when my mother finally took note of her more quickly dwindling supply of feminine hygiene products and asked me if “it” had happened. “It had,” I told her, “about a year ago.”
She was up in arms. Asking me why I hadn’t told her. I simply reminded her that she told me years ago what it was, and that it would eventually happen to me; that it was only natural. She just looked at me, and started to say, “You know what this means right. You know that now…” I interrupted her by saying, “That if I have sex with a boy I can get pregnant, I know. I don’t plan on having sex.” 

 I still don’t know how to explain the expression on her face. I don’t know if it was a look of, “Oh my god, my little girl is growing up,” or an expression of, “Damn, I taught this girl well!” Regardless her thoughts, it was what it was. I went about my business, fertile and free...she went about hers, calling my aunts and anyone else she knew to tell them the news, old news.
In addition to teaching me about female fertility, puberty and reproduction, my mother taught me about life…more so the finality of it; the lack of human immortality. I handled the bird’s and the bee’s lesson very well. Absorbed the facts and went about my day.  The next lesson was not as easy of a pill to swallow—it’s still stuck in my throat today…

16 October 2011

Misadventures of an Innocent Mouth

My family was not wealthy when I was very young. My father worked at a local pizza joint, while trying to get his drywall business up and running, and my mother was a stay at home mom. We lived in a rented home in rural Lambertville, Michigan, which was of adequate size. It had four bedrooms, one full bath, a utility room, a large living room and an eat in kitchen. Inside we lived together, happily, my parents, twenty at my birth, my maternal grandmother, diagnosed with schizophrenia twenty years earlier, my older brother, a dog named Bandit, a cat named Samantha, and myself.  The home had dingy carpeting which clearly showed the paths most frequently taken, cheap tile, and worn out wood floors. I don’t remember the walls having any color, nor artwork (other than a wooden and brass piece with the Lord’s Prayer written on it), hung upon them. Our furniture looked dated, and was most likely hand-me-downs from my father’s older siblings.  It was a rather modest existence, but I knew nothing else.
My paternal grandmother lived two doors down, so family was always close by—most importantly my best friend and cousin Crystal, and her brother Adam.  Crystal was a couple of months older than me, and Adam was a few months older, I think, than Carl, my brother. We were very close, the four of us. They often visited our grandmother, thus making our times together quite frequent. One visit, I have never been able to forget, even though I have wished to.
I should have recognized, at the wise age of four, that it was going to be a bad day, or at least an unpleasantly unforgettable one, when I hurriedly grabbed the cup off of the kitchen table and held it to my lips…
I was upstairs playing alone in my bedroom, when my mother yelled up to me, “Crystal and Adam are at your grandma’s!”
I couldn’t stop what I was doing fast enough. I quickly threw on some clothes, well as quickly, and with as much grace as a four year old can, and flew down the stairs.  Upon stepping foot at the bottom, I saw my mom standing in front of the sink, behind her on the kitchen table was my favorite cup. It was an orange, plastic cup with a yellow smiling sun on it which read, “Smile, Jesus loves you!” It was a gift from my bible school teacher, and was all I ever drank from. It was my everything. The only cup worthy of me, a child of God!
I ran towards the cup, noticed the deep bluish-purple hue inside and thought how great it was that my mother had prepared Kool-Aid for me. I grabbed the cup with my tiny little hands, brought it to my lips, and began gulping  it down as if I had never drunk before—and then the taste hit me.
What was this awful flavor of Kool-Aid? What had my mother done to me? What had I done to displease her so? Was she really trying to kill me?!?!
I started spitting, choking and coughing. My mother turned to me. Seeing the half-empty cup on the table, and the iridescent bubbles falling from my mouth with every cry and exhalation, her face dropped—as if she knew I thought she was trying to kill me. She grabbed me a glass of water and tried explaining to me that my cup, the cup of God’s child, had only moments earlier been filled, by her, with the cheap laundry detergent of a lower-middleclass family.  
I didn’t understand. I cried, and wailed until the bubble blowing stopped.  She dried my tears, wiped away my snot, and out the door I ran, knowing that I had just narrowly escaped death.
This would not be the only vile, evil thing my lips touched that fateful day…
The majority of the day was spent playing outdoors. I’m sure it was the usual running back-and-forth between my home and our grandmother’s, playing tag, and red-light-green-light. We probably stopped to eat the mulberries which had fallen from the tree behind the driveway. I’m sure we laid in the grass picking, and eating patches of tiny yellow flowers that had an amazingly sweet and sour taste, as we had so many times before. I had forgotten about the horrors of the morning, and was just living in a carefree way, a way one can only do when a child. Life was good.  
By early-afternoon, we had ventured into the home to play with toys inside of the imaginary worlds we created for them. Up in our bedroom, twin beds separated by an old nightstand placed beneath a small window, we sat; the boys on Carl’s bed, Crystal and me on mine. The summer sun was shining in, landing upon the two six year-old boys across from me when I recall my older brother saying, “…You kiss his, and Crystal will kiss mine.”
As it did earlier that day, my mind started racing. Thoughts of bad things happening to me if grown-ups found out that I did this flooded my head. I knew it was bad, but I don’t how. Maybe I could tell by the boys’ body language and the nervousness in their voices…maybe I knew because I had tasted evil earlier that morning. Evil veiled by the sun-shining, smiling face, and our Lord’s words.  
I knew I shouldn’t, but the, “Oh, come on, it’s what people do,” type comments got to me. I caved in to peer pressure. Caved in, and sinned. He pulled his "private" out, it was small, the size of my little finger today. I slid off of my bed and leaned forward towards it, thinking “Please God, forgive me,” and then I placed my pursed lips upon it for a millisecond or less.
I did it. It was done, now it was Crystals turn! I would not be venturing to Hell and back alone today. Right then, my mother, the woman who tried ending my short life only hours earlier, hollered up to all of us, “Kids, it’s time to eat!”
 Adam’s pants were pulled up, and the three of them hopped off of the beds, ran out of the room and towards the steps before I even realized what had just happened.
I stood there alone for a moment, and thought, “Oh God, I am sorry. Just don’t let my parents find out.” I then started the walk of shame towards the stairway, the stairway from which I could hear the clanking of dishes and chatter of small children. Small children who didn’t seem to realized, much less care, that I, their beloved cousin, sister had nearly died, not once, but twice, before lunchtime.