Nonfiction | I Survived


No Flintstones, no Bronco Lane.

  If we are to ever see what happens to children, what breaks inside, and end this goddamn cycle. Hold on to your heart and remember: my life got better when I was twenty. And there remains this beautiful old world, see? Remember this beautiful old world.

Mom and Dad—and Dana, who’s oldest and a girl—sit on the black vinyl couch. We boys make do with folding chairs. We have to sit up straight, no playing around, because it’s Sunday, his Bonanza night.

Chris holds his nose and eats his quick. Gags a little. “Chris?” Dad’s correction tone says: that’s your one-and-only let-it-slide gagging noise. They watch me now.

A salty hiccup in my throat, a sandy blur in one eye. Crybaby. I open my nostrils wide, hold them tight, no breath, to slow down time.

Chris is blank-faced. Dana covers her mouth with one hand. Kirk is frozen, mouth open.

Dad grabs a fork and helps.

I swallow, have to—and get some down! Not so bad—I’m sorry Mommy! I chew.