We Found Out

May 22, 2011
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The stiff, rugged carpet chafes the surface of my knees, all but stopping the force of my body forward. A crimson mark immediately develops, reminding me of the eminent pain. Pain, whose presence is definitely known to me, doesn’t seem to affect me the same as it normally would. Instead of shedding tears or whining about it, I stand up and continue to play tag with my cousins. While I run, jump, chase and tag, I can’t help but feel a dismal presence in the back of my confused mind, feeding at my suppressed emotions gradually, but violently. Although my immediate thoughts’ worst fear and main concern is not to get tagged, subconsciously my mind is a sad-stricken, bewildering place. A place that is begging me to venture into my memory from 24 hours ago, in which I laid bawling in the backseat of my Aunt Dawn’s minivan. A place that taunts me to think about my brother Matthew and what bad thing could have happened to make my family act the way they have. A place a six year old shouldn’t have to go. I stop running along the cool wood floor for a moment as my subconscious takes over, but my inner shield has become strong and takes victory as I spring on my cousin Joey. He falls on the floor laughing, not expecting the sudden motion of my small body to topple his tall teenage one. I smile from ear to ear at him with pride and accomplishment, but my grin suddenly changes into a half smile, characterized by fear and anxiousness.

This transformation didn’t occur out of thin air; the words of my mother, “Amanda can I see you for a minute,” sparked the change. These words that every kid dreads to hear from their parents, the one’s that instill fright and worry into the eyes of the employed, and the same phrase that causes a student to realize they may have done something wrong. I am now facing these dangerous, frightening, unpredictable words. I nod my head “yes” silently, and begin to slowly walk towards my mother, positioned half way in the screen door to my aunt and uncles house. I can feel the eyes of my cousins staring, confused and curious as to what was happening. My cousin Joey is older and seems to have answers, but these are adult answers that six year olds shouldn’t know. My mother glances at me with eyes swollen and red, freshly salted tear drops clearly lying on the highs of her cheekbones. It kills me inside to see my mother like this. The warm, cheerful smile on her lips has turned into a half one, seeming as though she didn’t have the strength to lift the corners of her mouth even slightly. The only other time I’ve ever seen the life taken out of her like this was when my Mimi passed away, except this time it seems much worse.

She takes my hand and leads me out to the front porch, sits down on a rocking chair, and pulls me up onto her lap, bones trembling against my warm body. I see my father, my brother sitting quietly on his lap, my Aunt Wendy, and my Uncle Joe. Their faces, although exceedingly different, all have the same melancholy characteristics now. To my left is a woman that seems familiar, although a complete stranger to me. I can’t place my finger on where I’ve seen her before. At school? The grocery store? Maybe she was a friend of my mom’s that I’ve only seen in passing. As I explore this question, my mother answers it in one simple phrase. She clears all of the confusion in my mind, all of the unanswered ‘adult’ questions, everything that was trying to break my inner shield of protection in the last 24 hours, with one single phrase. Mother’s seem to have a way of doing that sort of thing. She says, “Do you remember Mrs. Jones from when Mimi passed away?” I look at the consoling, soft, face of the woman sent here to help me cope, and fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My mouth is dry, my eyes are waterfalls, my nose is running violently and my heart is racing uncontrollably. Red, hot, and fast it pumps harder and harder until I feel as though I can’t breathe. I look at my brother, who is also hearing this for the first time, and see the persistent confusion and ignorance in his face. He is barely a child in age, yet I feel frustration and anger that he doesn’t understand. I scream the truth at him, the reason I feel as though I’m going to die, the reason we’re sitting there on the porch, the reason nobody seems to have any gleam in their eye or pep in their step on this miserable day, and immediately regret it. I turn my head and bury myself into my mother’s warm chest and cry into her arms, as she cries relentlessly into mine. I realize that I don’t want my brother to know the truth of what happened; neither do I want myself to understand this reality, when the truth hurts this badly.





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