I can't remember large sections of my childhood. Whole years are just...gone. I have occasional memories here and there, like buildings occasionally rising from out of a dense fog. Snapshots of a life I barely recognize. This ones pretty clear though. Almost crystal.
Me and my sister are at my moms place. This is after the divorce, I'm not sure how much longer. Dad had custody of us, but she had visits every other weekend. The state thought we should know our mom, and when she was sober enough to remember, she agreed with them. This weekend she'd remembered.
Me and sis (that's what I always called her, just sis) were in the living room sitting up against the couch, watching TV. Carol Burnett Show, I think. It was on repeats in the afternoons. Mom and her brother, our uncle, were in the kitchen getting drunk.
Me and sis were whispering back and forth, trying to be quiet. Calling Mom and our uncle names, talking about what she was going to make us to eat later on. I wanted tomato soup--she made the best--but sis said she was tired, and would probably make tuna fish sandwiches. She'd been watching me all day, feeding me and changing me and playing with me and everything.
Suddenly mom calls for me from the kitchen, a loud slurred call of my name. My sister squeezes my hand, and I get up to go in. I know what's going to happen.
Uncle Kevin will ask me something. When I try to answer they'll both laugh at how I talk. Mom might tell me how stupid I am, or call me names. They'll try to get me to cry. They think it's funny when they're drunk.
Of course it works. I don't even try to fight the tears. The quicker I cry the quicker I can go up to our room, and once I'm there I'm homefree. I can read some books, or play with some toys I brought with me, or more likely just cry and cry until I fall asleep.
But somethings wrong. Mom's not laughing. She calls me a pussy, asks if I need a tissue to dry my eyes with. Then she reaches across the table, cobra quick, and slaps me across the mouth.
I cry out, fall to the ground. I reach out while I'm falling, and accidentally grab the table cloth. I don't pull it completely off, but I do know over her bottle of vodka and our uncles whiskey.
Mom is pissed. She's screaming and yelling, and I'm crying even harder. She rushes to pick up the bottles, throws the cups in the sink. I hear one of them shatter.
She rushes over and starts kicking me, screaming at me. In the stomach. The chest. The shoulder. Twice in the face. I scramble out, screaming, crying, running blindly towards our room. She screams for my sister to go make me shut up.
I slam my bedroom door behind me. Not on purpose, just to close it as fast as I can. I sit in the small space between the end of our bunk bed and the wall. I'm sobbing, shaking, rocking back and forth. My whole body hurts. My nose is bleeding.
I hear the door open and look up. It's my sis, walking towards me with a bunch of wadded up toilet paper. She sits down next to me, puts an arm around my back. She's rocking with me, holding me, holding the wad of paper against my nose. She's talking to me, low and quiet, but I can't hear her right now. I'm to upset, to hurt, to busy listening to my own sobs.
Eventually I calm down. I understand she's making a running commentary on what a bitch our mom is. Talking about much she hates her, how much she hates the booze. Telling me I'm okay, that it wasn't my fault, she's just a psycho. When the bleeding stops she throws the wad of paper away and just sits there, both arms around my neck, holding me while I rock.
We sit there for a while, me hitching in big gulping breaths, rocking back and forth. I stop, she pulls back to look at me. I look up at her, about to say something, and she kisses me.
It's not a kiss like any I've had before. Her mouth is open. I can feel her tongue dart in and touch mine. I freeze, shocked. Surprised. Confused.
She pulls back and laughs. Sinks her head into my shoulder, still giggling. I can remember how it felt, ticklish on the side of neck. I can remember her hair, brushing against my back. The weight of her hands on my shoulders.
She whispers that that's how grown ups kiss when they love each other. I ask how she knows. She says that's how our Uncle kisses her when they're alone in his room.
She says he loves her, and because she's older, he's taught her how grown ups show it. I believe her. She's seven, and and she seems very grown up to me right now.
She says she loves me, and I say I love her to. She says she wants to show it. I ask how.
I can feel her hand moving from me shoulder. Down my side, tickling me a little. Into my pants. Into my underwear. She whispers into my ear that when two grown ups love each other, the girl plays with the guys dick. I know the word, but I've never said it before. I don't care though, because something else is happening. I look down and my thing has grown. It's a little bigger now. Stiff.
What she's doing feels good, like when she tickled my side, and she does it for a while. Then she gets this funny look on her face, like she's worried about something.
She says that when she did this to our Uncle he usually came by now. I ask her what that is and she laughs again. It's like peeing, she says, but it kinda of jerks around first, and the stuff that comes out is white.
I don't know why that hasn't happened, I say. Maybe I'm broken. She says she doesn't know, but can try something else. I'm about to ask what when we both hear our Uncle call out her name.
I feel hand stiffen around me for a second. She smiles, but her eyes look scared. She runs out, while I stand up to zip up my pants.
I go out just in time to see them walking into our Uncles room. He's smiling, and in that instant I hate him. I hate him with a pure, black rage that is far beyond my years. I hate him so much I feel like my body can't contain it, like I'll explode with pure hatred. A hate that never, ever goes away. I hide it well that night. I hide it from our Uncle, and from our Mom, and from my sister. It's the first secret I keep from her, but not the last.
Later, when she comes out of our uncles room, we play shape-shifter in our room for a while. It's a game of pretend we madeup, where we just move around the room pretending to be whatever we want to be, whenever we want to be. Pretending to be bears, or lions, or dragons, or wolves, or anything else we can think of. Being anything but ourselves.
After mom passes out, she makes us dinner. I expect tuna fish, but she makes tomato soup. It's excellent.
As I eat it, I smile at her, and think about how much I love my sister.