big pillows

I think I was seven, but that's just a guess.  My family was at home, enjoying a quiet night playing games with my parents and grandparents. We finished dinner, and my brothers were playing on the living room floor while Mother and Grandmother cleaned up after the meal.

I was curled up in a chair, reading a book, when my brother Michael started engaging Grandfather in a playful wrestling match.  Michael is 19 months younger than me; a funny story, really.  My parents thought they were unable to conceive a baby, so they adopted me.  Nine months and two weeks to the day after my adoption was finalized, guess who showed up?  Michael.

I'm like the goddess of fertility or something.

Michael picked up a big floor pillow and tossed it at Grandfather.  I really don't remember Grandfather's response, but I do know that five year-old boys are not easily distracted from wrestling.  Michael persisted in his attempts to play with Grandfather.

Grandfather was not a small man, he was close to six feet tall and easily weighed 200 pounds.  The wrestling match was bound to end quickly, especially considering the amount of alcohol Grandfather had consumed since arriving at our home.

Grandfather flipped my little brother onto his back, on the floor.  He placed the pillow over Michael's face.  And he sat on the pillow.  All two hundred pounds of him, on a pillow, over the face of my forty pound brother.

He bounced.  Hard.  Pounding Michael's tiny head into the floor  Thud, thud, thud.  I can see it now, almost twenty-five years later, as if it is happening in front of me.  My brother's legs, kicking hard, his little arms pushing the pillow, his tiny body squirming to get out.

I sat in the chair and watched.  I watched my grandfather attempt to kill my brother.  My mother and grandmother watched from the kitchen.  I cannot imagine that they wanted to be frozen in their tracks, I did not want to be frozen in my chair, one foot away from where my brother was suffocating.

Something shook someone from the shock of the scene.  Someone pushed Grandfather off the pillow, someone grabbed Michael and me, and our baby brother and locked us in a bedroom.

I remember the dresser being pushed in front of the door.

I remember Grandfather's flippant comments to my father when my father threatened his life.

I remember wishing my book was locked in the bedroom with us.

I remember never hearing another word about the incident.  No apology, nothing.

I remember being afraid.  Not that day, not the next day, but every time I saw my Grandfather.  I was terrified that he would come after me.

And I remember thinking that I would kill him before he ever laid another finger on one of my brothers or me.

I was seven.

1 comment:

  1. There aren't any words, except that I read this and I am hurting for you and you brothers. I read all the posts above this one too and if I had time I would read all the posts below. Not because you are exploring deep pain and family dynamics - although that is compelling - but because your writing is so good as you do and so I am learning from you and routing for you.


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