The living room became my bedroom before my pre-teen years. I’d gotten home from my cousin’s house to discover my dresser in my parent’s room and two brothers telling me I no longer was allowed in their room. I guess when I was gone, they realized taking turns sharing twin bunk beds wasn’t fun anymore.
This is how I came to be sleeping on the couch, tucked under a blanket with the A/C unit blasting 68 degree winds, when my mother telling my father to drink a glass of orange juice woke me up. I peered over the back of the couch to look into the narrow kitchen, saw my mother trying to force a glass of orange juice into my fathers hand.
“No,” my father said. But it wasn’t his usual no, the kind I got when I asked for McDonalds after school, or for him to buy me a soda. It was short, abrupt, uncontrolled.
My father took the glass and shoved it against the counter and it slid, but didn’t tip over.
“Who,” “Ah,” “No,” my father said in response to nothing my mother said.
My mom didn’t even glance at me as she moved passed the couch and down the hallway into the room I’d previously been kicked out of.
“Help me make him take something,” she told the boys.
“Dad, just drink the juice,” Zethen said. The 12-year-old boy took the glass that was on the table and tried to give it to my father.
“Who,” “Ah,” “No.” Short, abrupt, uncontrolled. My fathers head would twitch to the side and his shoulders move back sharply with each sound.
I watched from the couch.
Zephan asked my mother if she’d tried giving him something to eat instead. She said he wouldn’t take anything.
“No,” “Leave me alone dammit,” “I’m fine,” My father said.
“Kent you have to eat something. You’re having a low blood sugar. Eat,” my mother said
“I’m not.” “Who.” “Ah.” “No.”
When the paramedics came in, I hid in my former room. I sat up watching from the bottom bunk as the paramedics sat my father on the ground, legs spread out before him, and calmly forced a sandwich into his hand.
Later, when my father no longer “Who’d,” “Ah’d,” and “No’d” my mother told me to go back to my bed.
I laid face up in my spot on the couch, listening to my brothers file back into their room and listening to my mother clean up.
My father leaned over the back of the couch, touched my shoulder and said, “Did I scare you?”
“Stop,” I said as I turned over on my side.
Whatever this diabetes was, I didn’t ever want to catch it.
This is part of a writing exercise I did in a nonfiction workshop (but aren’t you like a journalist??) – Well, yeah, but I found that while I can tell other people’s stories, I struggle to tell my own real life stories.
The premise was to write a memory from the point of view of yourself at the age the memory surrounds. Meaning – I wouldn’t have certain knowledge, or be able to make connections the way I can now.