It’s easy to get caught up in the banality of everyday living, something I don’t recommend doing. Since I can only speak from where I’ve been and see myself going, I can only give you glimpses of the life I’m currently living. Yes, to many it’s a nightmare they don’t want to live much less read about but for me it’s all in the learning that comes from watching other people who for some reason have taken an interest in watching me. More importantly, I think it’s about listening and sharing things that aren’t always easy.
When I think about it, it was those really hard times that taught me who I really am and what I’m capable of. I have become my own survival guide because of how I grew up so for me, people who can’t figure that out for themselves are baffling. See, I grew up in a place called Brokeville, maybe some of you have heard of it? Hell, some of you have lived there yourself if you aren’t already there right now!
Anyway, my time there as a child was always an adventure in growing older. Can’t really say growing up because what if after puberty, you haven’t? You could always have an adventure in Brokeville but sometimes there were kinds you’d rather not. I learned how to fight in Brokeville and I think at the time I must’ve been about five years old. I remember waking up and running to the living room window of our apartment, crying. Crying because from where I stood, I could see my father getting into a car and leaving me by myself.
I opened the door and ran out, hoping to catch him but all I could do was stand on the second floor walkway and watch him drive off. I’m not sure how long I just stood there sobbing but it didn’t take long to realize somebody had been watching me. Laughter from the neighbor kid, Michael, snapped me out of my despair and replaced it with dread. I hated Michael with a passion because Michael had a problem nobody else knew about. The first time my mother left me and my sister at Michael’s house to babysit us, we soon found out all about Michael but it wasn’t until his parents left the room.
Michael was a few years older and bigger than I was. “Awww, did your dad take off and leave you by yourself?” I turned and ran back into our apartment with Michael running close behind me. I managed to shut the door in enough time to slide the chain above the deadlock into place but the door was still partially open. Michael kept throwing his body against the door, attempting to dislodge or break the chain but it was strong. Michael was furious and kept yelling at me through the door to unlock the chain but I just stood there staring at it. Then I had an idea. “Back up so I can close the door to unlock the chain.” I had no idea if he would but when he did I closed the door and turned the knob on the deadlock then I stood on the couch in front of the window and grinned at Michael’s angry face on the other side of the glass. Realizing I wasn’t about to open the door anytime soon, Michael retreated to his own apartment.
The day after this incident, I was outside poking around the grounds looking for a rock. Not just any rock, a revenge rock. Once I found it, I climbed up the stairwell to wait for Michael’s school bus that should be arriving any minute. Sure enough, here came the bright yellow short bus that always dropped Michael off at the curb. Michael couldn’t see where I was perched and I patiently waited for him to walk closer. As soon as he approached the stairwell, I launched my rock and watched it bounce off his forehead. Instinctively, Michael’s hands flew to his head and he said what I was pretty sure were swear words. Then he looked up and saw me standing above him with my fists clenched, waiting for him to take another step. He began going down a list of things he was gonna do to me as tears ran down his face but I stood my ground and said “Go ahead. Tell you mom and dad I hit you in the head with a rock ‘cause when you do, I’m gonna tell ‘em what you did when you locked me into the closet with you.”
Michael’s face went from red to almost purple and he was breathing hard but he just stood there staring at me. Down the walkway, I could hear the door from Michael’s apartment open and his father leaving for his night job. He noticed Michael near the stairwell and called out to him “Michael, you better hurry up. Your mother has dinner on the table and yours is gonna get cold.” Michael still didn’t move. “Okay dad, I’m comin’.”
Michael and I watched his father get into his station wagon and drive off. Once he was gone, Michael wiped his face and continued up the stairwell. I thought for sure we were gonna get into it but instead, Michael walked past me and kept on going until he was back inside his own place. Due to the dynamics between my mother and father back then, I never did tell them about Michael. I had become accustomed to not being listened to anyhow.
From time to time I wonder whatever became of Michael since I have no idea how his life turned out after “the incident” but I do know that he left the same kind of impression I left on his forehead: permanent.