That's the comment on the bottom of the essay I wrote in college.
then my grade: A
I found this last night when looking for a copy of the story: The Stretch of Midnight.
I was interested to read it because it contains a very powerful part of my teen years. A part that I have never shared with anyone except that teacher who had to read/grade my paper. I'm a bit shocked that I shared this at all. usually the really deep stuff is stuffed down so deep that it takes years and years for it surface so I can work on it.
This was written in my late teens/early twenties, before I when to therapy.
This is an unflinching peek into my life. A clue to the mystery that is me. Names of my brothers changed for privacy, but make no mistake. This is a true story. Entered a originally written. because omg...my grammar and run on sentences are too many to fix.
* * * * * * * TRIGGER WARNING FOR SUICIDE * * * * * * *
Maturity is a state of being not an age
I let the seven tiny ball bearings roll out of my cupped hand into the saucer of oil. Carefully I lift the roller skate wheel up on its axel shaft and catch the other set of dusty ball bearings and plink them into the oil.
I start to remove the nut on the other wheel but the dilapidated pliers I am using just chew up the metal ridges.
"fuck" I hiss as I pound the wheel with the pliers.
"Ummmm, I'm telling." brother3 smirks as he looks up from the other end of the table.
I glare at him. "Look you...mama said we can say any word as long as we know the meaning, and sex without love is fucking."
"Oooh you're so mature," He retorts and punctuates his message with a funny face.
"what would you know about being mature? you're only twelve, I'm fifteen...so go out and get me another pair of pliers you dweebi."
He laughs and leaps up from the table and heads out to the workshop.
I return my attention to removing the stripped nut. Holding the skate between my knees, I grip the pliers with both hands and twist. The pliers slip off and crack my knee. "SON OF A BITCH!" I bellow and pound the skate down on the table. I regret my hasty action as the saucer of ball bearings does a back flip.
"P." Brother3 says quietly as he lays another pair of pliers on the table.
"I know what it means!" I fume.
"Something's wrong with Daddy. He's just laying on the steps."
My anger dissipates instantly.
Daddy is laying face down on the stairs. We roll him over. His face is ashy grey and his lips are light blue as if he had been eating a blue fla-vo-ice. He had to fight for every breath he pulled in.
"Has he been here the whole time?" I ask.
Brother3 points to Daddy's truck. "No he was standing out there when I came out to get the pliers."
I glance at the truck. Deadly carbon dioxide exhaust is traveling up a hose to the closed off cab. I Bolt from the porch and run to the phone. My fourteen year old brother is chatting with his girlfriend. "I NEED THE PHONE!" I holler and snatch it from him and hang it up. "Daddy just tried to kill himself."
"Where is he?"
I grab him and take him, while I explain how Daddy tried to end his life.
We find him sitting up, but his breathing is still labored.
"Help me get him up" Brother2 orders.
I am thankful that he is assuming command. The three of us walk Daddy to the front porch and set him down in a crumpled heap.
"Go call the emergency room." Brother2 orders. "Find out what we should do."
I get the phone and stretch it outside to the porch. My hands starts to quiver as I dial.
A grown up voice answers. "Josephine Memorial Emergency Room."
I shove the phone at Brother2, and sit down on the porch, wishing mama was home.
Brother2 explains what happened, then calmly describes the physical condition of our father. He would be the one to call a family friend to drive Daddy to the emergency room. He would be the one to tell mama what happened when she got home. He would be the one I talked to about what happened. He would be the one to turn off the truck and dismantle the hose.
I may have been physically older than Brother2 that spring day, but he was far more mature. Thank goodness.
End of essay.
not the end of the story.
I can still see it in high def-clarity. Mama was at the store and we planned what we would do when she pulled up. We waited.
We swarmed the van as she pulled in, I yanked open the door before the van stopped all the way. I jumped in and passed sister2 out, and as I grabbed brother5 from his seat I told mama "Don't turn the engine off - stay in the van" I turned to and handed brother5 to brother3 and then grabbed the grocery bags and pulled them out as quickly as I could.
While I did this Brother2 spoke to mama though the drivers window.
I slammed the door closed and stepped back.
And she was gone.
I stood there shaking as I realized that my father might have died if I hadn't sent my brother3 out for a pair of pliers.
Now in a healthy sane world, the three of us would have been helped to deal with the trauma we had just endured.
But we lived in a very dysfunctional world. We were left to rot in in our own pain. Parents returned from the ER and we early waited for an update and to see our father. Daddy headed into the bedroom and closed the door. Mama said this to me:
"It's after 5:00 why haven't you started dinner?"
No thank you for helping our father. Neither of them ever mentioned it. Nothing. Life was going to go one with the events of that afternoon erased. I spoke to brother2 about it that night at bedtime. Thanking him for being there.
Then it disappeared.
The raw truth edge carefully folded over and mended into the crazy quilt that is my life.