Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Remember that night, when I put myself to bed...

It's my eighth birthday. I love my peppermint pink and white pajamas from Eileen. The party was at Jeremy's place. It's a joke shop in front and a party room in the back. The owner, Jeremy, tells little jokes and makes all of us laugh until we snort. All the gifts are opened and the apartment is quiet except for my aunts.

Mommy left for the hospital about an hour ago. I take the last piece of crumpled wrapping paper to the kitchen. No one stayed to watch me finish opening my birthday presents.  My uncle is coming from New Jersey tonight so the two divorced aunts are behaving "poorly". They argued about how to make the list for my thank you notes. My head aches on the left side, near my temple. I shake my head from side to side.
They’re at it again.
“No, small plates in the middle. Glasses up top and on the side.”
“Yes, but then everything doesn’t fit.”
My blonde aunt slams the dishwasher closed and a glass breaks inside. Neither aunt looks at me or notices my watching them, appalled and feeling the desperate urge to laugh at them.
I roll my eyes. Two grown women are fighting about loading a dishwasher. Something's wrong with adults. They are all not quite crazy, but rather strange. I’m noticing it a lot these days.
I look behind me, out the picture window in the dining room. The night is clear. The Triborough bridge dances aglow in its green majesty. The Pepsi-Cola sign on Governor’s island blinks like it's trying to see me. I whisper to my reflection in the window, “It’s 8:40.”
Bed time is 8:30 except on Friday nights, when it’s nine o’clock, and we are allowed to watch the Love Boat. I walk barefoot over the ugly brown wooden floor, past the tv room, past the front door of our apartment, to brush my teeth in Daddy’s bathroom. It’s the blue one that only has a shower because he never takes baths.

I know he's never coming back. No one will tell me, but I can tell from the look on their faces when they tell me he'll just, "Wake Up and ask for breakfast." It seems silly that someone would wake from a coma and ask for breakfast. Knowing Daddy, that would not be the first question - he'd want to know where he was and where we are. But what do I know? I'm only eight. Eight - I am finally here at that magical age. I feel very grown up, but very tired.
I carefully put “just enough” Peak toothpaste on my Reach toothbrush and I wonder what it would be like to have a flip top head, like in the commercials. After placing the toothbrush on the sink, I place my fingers in my mouth trying to open my jaw 180 degrees. Once the stretching starts to hurt, I give up and finish brushing my teeth.

Before I leave, I open the medicine cabinet, even though I'm REALLY not supposed to. I reach up on the shelf and grab his comb and aftershave. They smell like home and suddenly I feel warm and sad and scared all at the same time. I start to cry but take a deep breath and steady myself. He wouldn't want me to cry. I pray, "please let him die in his sleep, I don't want him to be lonely."
I go into my room and put on my peppermint stripe Bloomindale’s pajamas from Eileen. I am very grown up to be wearing pajamas with pants instead of a nightgown with a penguin on it. It seems like longer than yesterday, when I was ONLY seven. I walk into Mommy and Daddy’s room and watch myself dance  in the wall of mirrored doors over their closets.  

Walking past the Zenith color tv Daddy and I went to Crazy Eddie’s to buy Mommy for Christmas that sits on her dresser. I wonder if I’d get in trouble for turning it on. Probably not. But, we don’t watch tv after 8:00 and I’m already way past my bedtime. I stop myself. I climb into the bed, under the pink and orange flower print bed spread and lay down on Daddy’s side.

I ignore the light switch next to me.  Mommy will need to see when she gets home.  No one comes into the room to check on me. I don’t call out to ask them to.  The cold from the sheets surprises me and I pull my legs into my chest so I am a ball with a little head poking out. My foot wanders and I quickly pull it back from the cold, closer to the warm patch my body created.  I wish Mommy was here. I close my eyes and fall asleep.

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