05. May 2013 · Comments Off on The Abyss Yawns Open · Categories: C. 1 to 4 years, Take Bull by Horns, The Beast · Tags: ,

I see the boy at the top of the slope just as he is coming down.  His bicycle has a bell – rrring – rrring – rrring.  His white shirt is blowing, the wind is in his hair, he has the widest smile.  Rrring – rrring – rrring.  Oh, how I wish I could do that!  I lean forward on the balcony to see him speed by.

I see the bus coming at the bottom of the street.  I hear the crash, but I can’t see because Ah Seem has grabbed me against her tunic.  I know the boy died.  I feel the horror filling up inside me.  It makes me sick.  No one says anything about the boy.

The next morning, when I go with Ah Seem to the park, we pass the crossroad.  Ah Seem pulls me along quickly, but I look back and I see the bloodstains on the road.  The horror comes back.

I am not yet three.  How can I know death, why do I feel that horror?  But even when I learn these things later, I would never again feel horror in the same way.

I become sick.  I remember Dr. Gomes with a big needle I don’t want.  Then a lot of darkness, of shadows, then my mommy’s face, then my daddy’s.  Dr. Gomes is here too.  They smile, but they are not happy.  They blur, and I go back to sleep.

But I wake up.  I learn a new word: crisis.  It’s what I came through.  I get a lot of hugs.  But I still want to sleep.

Weeks go by.  One day, a man carries a bushel basket into my room.  Look, Ah Seem enthuses, your godfather, the big judge, sends you a big present!

I am too tired.

Ah Seem reaches into the basket.  Look!  There are many pretty packages!  She holds out a brightly wrapped little package.

Too tired.

She opens the package and sets down a little pink glass pig with a curly tail.  Then she puts down an even smaller pink piglet with a curly tail.  There are two more.  They are so cute.  What else is there?

Ah Seem hands me a package.  I want to know what’s inside.  You can open it, she says.  Soon we have little goats, buffaloes, dogs, swans.

I pull aside layers of soft tissue and find a glass dragon with many colors.  Ah Seem laughs as she holds it up and makes it dance.  Good fortune!  Good fortune!

The dragon sparkles and reflects a shaft of sunlight into a million dancing lights.  I want to go outside with my dragon and make it dance in the sunlight and show everyone.


glass dragon

The Glass Dragon

I see Chico turn the corner to our house.  He is a young man who rides his bicycle from the farms to bring us eggs and milk and vegetables.  I wish I could ride a bike.

We have only one bicycle, my mom’s.  I can’t even reach the pedals.  There is no chance of getting a child’s bicycle until the war is over.

I try getting on my mom’s bike.  I can stand on the pedals and ride without sitting on the seat.   But I haven’t learned to balance myself on a bike.  I look down the long slope, which is paved with cobblestones.  If I stand on the pedals and go down the slope, I can turn on the road at the bottom and the bike will just keep going.   I will be riding the bike!

It is working.   The bike speeds up, but the cobblestones slow it enough that I don’t have to use the brakes.  It is exhilarating!  As I get to the bottom, I hear a chorus of cheers and whistles from the high wall of the barracks.  I turn to the left, and just as I hoped, the bike keeps going.  I pedal it around and circle back.

I see who was cheering.  The soldiers applaud and wave.  If I were surer of my hold on the handlebars  I would wave back at them.  I hope they can see me smiling as widely as I can.



 Taking the bull by the horns

barracks2-8-2013 3-49-41 PM

Military barracks.  Our house was up the long slope to the right.