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.