The Tired Children

I am a child, maybe around eight or nine years of age.  I am in a large house with at least three stories and a basement.  I am in the basement with many other children.  We are moving large objects, too heavy for our small bodies to be moving on a consistent basis.  I can’t quite make out exactly what the objects are.  They are square, almost like blocks of concrete.

I am watching myself in third person, up against the ceiling looking down.  My hair is somewhat matted as though it has not been washed in quite a long time.  My face is dusty.  I have on burlap pants and a t-shirt that is stained. I cannot see my feet to know if there are shoes on or if I am barefoot.  I seem to have been down here for a very long time.  All of us children have.  I look tired, hopeless, worn, and moving methodically.  We do not talk to each other.  We do not look at each other. We move systematically, moving the large objects from a pile on one side of the basement to stack them neatly on the other side.  I feel the heaviness of whatever we all are moving and organizing.  I see the utter weariness in all our hunched over backs.

The dream scene changes. I am in my own body now.  I am an adult now.  I am sitting in a room with a large makeshift conference table.  It is handmade with slabs of wood.  There are many people around it in matching chairs made of tree trunks and tree limbs and nailed together pieces of board.  I cannot see their faces.  Only their forms.  They are a mixture of mirage and shadow, shifting between color and black and white.  I know I am being expelled from the house.  I feel that this is a regular occurrence, that once we children reach adulthood, we are no longer needed there.   I feel glad inside. I don’t understand why they aren’t worried that I and all the others they have released, will go to the authorities to tell on them.  I am aware that my life has been spent in the basement.  They are each talking to me, one at a time, as if giving instructions or even a farewell, but I am not listening.  I am in my own head, devising a plan to come back for the children in the basement.

I awake this morning, with a pinched nerve beneath the left shoulder blade on my back.  I let hot water pour onto it in the shower.  I understand the emotion that moved through me last night.  This reality of emotional pain is felt in multiple ways.  It moves through my heart strings and sometimes settles into my muscles.  It is not always mine.  At times, it feels like the pain of every hopeless child wishing as I did when I was little, that someday someone would save me.

©VennieKocsis.com

Ants At the Symphony 

I am back in my high school town. Although there are no beaches in Martin, TN, I am perched, legs crossed, in front of one. This small beach boasts crystal clear, soft blue water rolling in with a slow, tender tide. I am sitting in an ancient stone colosseum. It is as if it was lifted from a fallen city and placed where it grandly sits now.

I am wearing an elegant black dress, shoulderless and simple. I glance down at my toes, perfectly painted deep blue and tucked inside of toeless, black heels. My hair is coifed and sprayed perfectly in place. I am grandly dressed for the symphony.

I am perched alone on one of the stone benches, closest to the stage which has been set up with the beautiful beach as scenery behind it. On stage is a large orchestra filled primarily with strings.

The music surrounds me. I close my eyes, feeling the soft embrace of the cello and the haunting tears of the violin strings.

Suddenly my right forearm begins to itch. I look down and see a red bump close to my wrist. It looks like I have been bitten by a mosquito. I scratch the bump, and when I do, the skin lifts and ants come scattering out of the hole in droves, covering my wrist and hand.

I panic.

I wake up.

It’s coming out.

The Open Mouth Contraption

I am watching myself in third perspective. I am feeling myself in first perspective. I am doing both of these things at the same time as I sleep lucidly dreaming.

I am prone on a metal table. My head is secured with something, maybe a strap. I can’t quite make it out. There is a metal contraption holding my mouth open. It has been open for hours, maybe days. My lips are three times their normal size. They are cracked and dry. My throat is screaming for water. I fade out.

Now I am wandering through a market. There are vendors everywhere selling fruits, vegetables and various wares. The market is packed with people. I feel conspicuous and paranoid that I will be recognized. By whom I do not know.

My hair is grossly disheveled. I can sense that I am confused as to my whereabouts. I cannot make out the ethnic or planetary  race of the people manning the market stands. They are shadowy and fading in and out. I don’t know if they are human or if I am in another country on earth. I feel taller than them.

I am unsure what planet I am on. My lips are so dry they are vastly blistered. I focus my view in on my mouth in order to assess the damage. They are horribly cracked, dry and swollen. I am cupping my hand over my mouth to shield them, not from embarrassment, but from being recognized. I feel that the condition of my lips will give away that I have escaped. From what I do not know.

Who have I run from? Who am I hiding from? What am I looking for in this market? Something to moisten my mouth and throat.

I wake up at three a.m. desperate with thirst. I stumble down the stairs and fill up a glass of water that I gulp and re-fill to gulp again. Cake. I am craving sugar. I shove pieces of it into into my mouth to curb the sudden craving. My lips are actually extremely dry. I slather them with Chapstick before falling back into sleep. I awaken into the day feeling the sadness of this world’s indifference, and I escape to the woods with moistener for my lips.

Did I travel? Am I remembering? Or is this just a dream? This life is confusing.

Broken Until Spoken

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This was not an easy photo for me to do this morning. I cried. It hurt to take. I was swept back to being a five year old child, mouth taped so often to train me to be silent, just like this, except it was white packing tape, so even more humiliating as I couldn’t hide my cracked, dry lips. For those who have read the novel, Cult Child, you may recall me describing this practice.

I forged forward today and took this photo in support of Broken Until Spoken because I was most definitely broken until I could finally get it out, talk about it, and allow the telling of my truth to be my strength.

My fellow abuse survivors and thrivers, these are the times for us to speak and tell our truths. If you are comfortable, please participate in this project.

WE! As in You and I, Need YOUR SELFIE!!

The Caning

I am in a bedroom trying to go to sleep.  I cannot go to sleep because in a room down the hall, children are wailing and screaming.   They are being beaten.  I can hear them.  I leap from my bed and run down the hallway towards the room.  I fling open the door.

There, with her hand raised high, is my mother, a long, thick cane in her hand.  There must be fifty children in the room, some having already been beaten, others, waiting their turn, shaking in a huddle, unable to escape what is to come.

She has a child by the arm, and she is striking the child’s legs over and over as the child screams.  I see the child’s face, mouth open, sobbing and screaming.  The children who have already been beaten are in a group together. Some are laying down in the fetal position, so obviously in shock.  Others are rocking back and forth, weeping and holding their wounds. The skin on their legs are splayed open.  I can see meat and flesh, bright black and purple bruises forming.  I scream at my mother as I grab the child from her arm.

STOP! JUST STOP IT!”  I am screaming. “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? WHY?

Her eyes are menacing.  She is looking at me with anger.  I feel no fear of her.  I will kill her if I have to.  I will not let her strike another child.   I am herding the children into one group, and as they see that I am there to save them, they begin to gather behind me.  We are all on one side of the room, and I am assessing getting them all out of the door, down the hall, into my room where I can lock the door until I figure out the next step to saving them.   My mother is on the opposite side of the room right by the door, the cane in her right hand. She is methodically tapping it on the palm of her left hand.  She has a wicked smirk across her face as if I am so silly to think that I can fight against her.  But I am ready.  I will fight her with all of my power, and in my mind, I will win.

She begins to advance towards me.  I stand strong in front of the children.  My fists are clenched.  I am planning.  I will go for her throat.  I will grab the cane from her hand and strike her on her head and neck, everywhere I can until she is beaten bloody and raw like the legs of these children.

But as she gets closer towards me, she becomes bigger and bigger, and I become as small as the children.  Suddenly, I am filled with terror, realizing, that I will not be able to fight her.  I am too little.  In my mind, I am an adult.  I am thinking as an adult.  In my view I when I entered the room, I was the same size as her, but now, I am no longer a grown up.  I am just an adult inside of the body of a little girl, and I know that I am next.  She is going to beat me harder than she has beaten any of the other children.   My throat is closing as I try and suck in my breath.

Her face is the most terrifying of all.  Her eyes are flat, black and soulless.  Her mouth is twisted into a crooked grin representing that she is enjoying inflicting this abuse, and that she will revel in beating me.   She is so close now, and I am no taller than her knees.  I am just a little girl with the rest of the children, and my body is shaking, shivering with anxiety and terror.

and the dream ends.

(featured image from Jill Greenberg’s “Crying Children”)

The Kidnapped Baby

I am at a house. Rocco is here with my sister.  They seem to be a couple.  There is some kind of reunion happening somewhere in another state, and we are all preparing to fly there. I have been put in charge of transporting another couple’s small baby to that city.  I seemed to have agreed to this, and I am participating willingly in the plans.

There is a luggage set packed and ready to go. The larger piece has all of my belongings in it, and the smaller one is for the baby. It is filled with diapers and formula, clothes and bottles. I will carry the smaller one on the plane with me so that I have the things I need to care for the baby.

Now we are at the airport, and I am at the ticket counter with the baby in the stroller. The baby might be six or seven months old, very tiny, strapped into the small, easy to fold up stroller.  It is a boy with very little hair, fair skin and blue eyes. The ticket counter people sit very high above me so I have to strain my neck back to look up towards them. Suddenly I realize two things have gone horribly wrong. One. I left my purse in the backseat of Rocco’s car, so I do not have my identification to get my ticket and check in for the flight. Problem two makes me panic harder. They have accidentally checked the smaller suitcase, and I now have no formula, clothers, diapers or anything to care for the baby during the trip. I begin to cry and panic, not knowing what to do first. I feel confused because I am always organized and on top of things.  How could all of this have gone wrong?

I glance at the clock. I only have an hour. I see that we are close to the gate we need to go to. I don’t like being late.  An airline attendant comes around from the side of the counter. She has a sweet smile, kind eyes, dark curly hair that reaches her shoulders and is dressed like the rest of the workers in khaki pants and a dark blue polo shirt with the airline insignia on it. It is wings, like the wings they give out to kids when they fly by themselves.

I’ll tell you what.” She says sweetly to me. “I’ll watch the baby while you run get the check in bag and call your friends to bring your purse. Meanwhile we will hold the flight until you return so you won’t miss it.

Seriously?” I exclaim, overwhelmed by this kindness. “You would do that for me? Thank YOU!”

I breathe a sigh of relief. The baby will be safe. I will be able to handle business more quickly, and we’ll be on our way. I head down the walkway.

I am back at the ticket counter now. I have retrieved the smaller bag from the check in, but realize that I have no way to call Rocco because my phone is in my purse which I have left in the car. Shit, what will I do now?  I’ll have to catch a cab and run over to Rocco’s for my purse.  I wonder if they’ll still watch the baby and hold the flight while I do this? I look around to the side of the counter.

But the woman who is caring for the baby is gone. I look around at the seating thinking she might have just gone somewhere to relax, but she is not there.  The more I look, the more I realize that the baby has been kidnapped. She was not an airline attendant nor was the uniform she was wearing authentic.  She had stolen it and put it on, purposely tracking me to steal the baby.  I freak out and immediately get everyone involved. Suddenly there are police and airline workers gathered around me. They have locked down all of the airport exits and put out an immediate alert for the baby.

But I know it is too late. My intuition tells me that the woman is gone from the airport with the baby. She had plenty of time to get out while I was gone.  Fuck.  What the hell was I thinking to trust her?  I mean, she had on the same uniform as the rest of the employees, so why wouldn’t I trust her?  My eye notices a magazine stand.  I instinctively grab a newspaper knowing it will give me a clue of where the woman has taken the baby. I flip directly to the wanted ads.

There its is, an ad that says:

Open Heart Church

Bring your children to our wonderful Sunday school!

They will play and get good meals while mom and dad relax.

The advertisement goes on to list the address, inviting families to freely attend their open house sessions and stop in any time. I am filled with sickness inside.  I see everything they are doing, killing parents, taking children, controlling people inside of the building, and I know immediately that this is where the baby is. They are taking children. They are spending time plotting, stalking and kidnapping children by luring in families with happy go lucky advertisements.  I explain everything that I see and know to the police.

This place right here. This is where the baby is.” I point to the advertisement.

They look at me skeptically asking me how I know. I cannot explain to them how I know. I have no facts to back me up.

I just know. I am telling you! The baby is there.”  I say it matter of fact and firmly. “Please, just believe me.  Just go check there. Please just check.”

I am begging for them to not rule out the possibility because I know if they just go, they will find the baby without a doubt.  I believe they will find more children there also.

Now I am suddenly back at Rocco’s to grab my purse. I feel there is a police car that has taken me there, pulled up in the driveway behind Rocco’s car.  Rocco and my sister have come outside of the house.  I hurriedly tell them the baby is missing and a brief summary of what happened. My purse is in the back seat of Rocco’s car. He has left the windows down, and a flash flood of rain has made everything in the car soaking wet. Including my purse. I grab it and realize that because it is leather, everything inside of it is dry. I am elated that my identification, cards and other belongings inside the purse are safe.  I sling it over my body knowing that the leather will dry over the next few hours.

Now I am suddenly in front of a street in an average subdivision. There is a huge sprawling house in front of me with a makeshift sign on plywood that has the name of the church on it.  It is the church from the newspaper advertisement.  Police are everywhere around me. They are asking me am I sure the baby is inside. I assure them that I know the baby is in there. We stand together, as they strategically discuss how to enter the home undetected.

Panic is filling my chest. What if the kidnappers kill the baby? What if they hide the baby since the house is so large it appears to have many rooms? What if they escape with the baby? How am I going to tell the parents that I have lost their precious infant? I am filled with despair, worry and sadness for the situation. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and I will have to be the one to explain it.

Now I am suddenly standing inside the front door of the home where the baby and his parents live. There is a hallway directly to my right.  There is a piece of paper upon which there is a note written from Rocco and my sister. It has fallen, face down on the floor of the hallway. I realize that the parents did not even see it or read it because it fell when they walked in the house.

It says “Angie took the baby on with her so you two don’t have to worry about it. See you there!

I look into the living room. There is a love seat. I can sense there is a woman sitting on it to my left, but I can’t quite see her because the doorway into the living room doesn’t allow my eyesight to see that far in. All I see is the man sitting directly in front of me on the other end of the love seat. He is talking to the woman.

I am dumbfounded.

It’s O.J. Simpson. But he is old, quite old. What the hell is O.J. Simpson doing here, I am thinking to myself. I am questioning if it is really him.  Yet, I know, that’s fucking O.J. Simpson.  I am standing there thinking “this is the most bizarre shit that I’ve ever experienced.” He is talking to the woman and has not noticed me yet.

I’m not all of those things that they say I am.” He is saying gently to her. “I am really not a bad person inside of myself. I’m a good man. A lot of that is lies.”

Then he leans towards her as if he is going to kiss her, and she seemingly must have pulled back because then he says,

Oh, so you don’t want to kiss me, huh?”

I sense his mood change to irritation, and I wake up.