Chapter Thirty-two

t was hard to contain my anger at times. Singing in my room was a great release. When I went shopping at the mall, I couldn’t look at all the people or deal with their energy. I felt caged and like I needed to bolt. 

Robbie and I talked about it on the phone. 

“Wear shades to the mall,” he said. “It helps.” 

He had spent half of spring break in Orlando. Joey had gone to see him, and they were together at Disney World. Joey was staying in Orlando with plans to meet up with the Lynx gang in Daytona for Bike Week. I was picking Robbie up at Bradley Airport to bring him home for a few days. On the way, we talked about his visit with Joey. He said it was great the first couple of days, but then they started getting on each other’s nerves. 

Later that day, while we were sitting on the bed in my room, I told him about the uncovered movie clip where he was seen attacking me in my playpen. 

He said, “What was I, two, when that happened?” 

“I know. The thing that surprised me was her saying it never happened.” 

He shook his head. “So they had no clue how to prepare one kid for another kid. They leave them unsupervised, and then smack the older baby for hitting the new baby. That’s the thing that gets me—all the secrecy and the lies. Like, for them, the natural thing to do is cover things up, lock things, deny things. Why?” 

“You’re going to think I’m crazy,” I said, “but you know what I think?” 

“What?” 

“They don’t do that because they’re hiding dead bodies or anything like that. They are ashamed of who they are, especially her, and they’re ashamed of getting things wrong, being seen as wrong or bad.” 

I brought up something I hadn’t thought about in years—my hospital stay when I was four years old. I had begun the conversation innocently, though some gut feeling may have prompted it. 

“I couldn’t have been there a week, but it seemed like forever,” I recalled. “They brought me a Furga doll, Little Adrianna, and I kept her with me every minute. Even when I was sleeping, I held her.” 

It all came back to me. The old hospital building with its dramatic baroque exterior looked like an entire kingdom to me, dwarfing the beautifully landscaped flowers and the trees in its midst. Through the lens of my childhood eyes, it was a symbol of power and magnificence. I had developed a love for that type of design, but an aversion to everything I’d found beyond those doors. 

“We gotta leave you here,” my father had said in the gentlest of tones. “The nurses and doctors will take care of you. We’ll come back for you.” 

“Where are you going?” I asked. 

“We’re going to buy candy.” He winked. 

“Why can’t I go with you?” 

“You have to stay here,” my mother said. “Wait for us.” 

I knew something was wrong. Her skin was pale. When I reached for her hand, it was trembling. She seemed reluctant to walk away. 

My father took her arm. 

“Please, Mommy, Daddy, no!” I screamed, tears clouding my vision. “Don’t leave me here. Please don’t leave me!” 

My mother turned, and I saw she also had tears. My father steered her onward. I cannot imagine the agony they’d endured, as they continued to disappear from my view. They turned back only one time to wave goodbye to me. 

I would not go willingly with the nurses. I wanted to wait for my parents right there in that spot. They tried taking hold of my arm, but I pulled it away. I became hysterical. They could not calm or console me. They lifted me from the floor and injected me with a needle. I had little time to react to the sting of this jolting ambush. The nurse who carried it out hurled me into a bed with bars around it. She sounded mean. I continued to cry hysterically, and, within seconds, I was asleep. 

I awoke to a sea of beds and lab coats as white as the walls. The uncompromising uniformity and blinding fluorescents would remain etched in my memory for a lifetime. The atmosphere was purely clinical—no color, no vibrancy, and with an abhorrent stench of metallic odors, bitter antiseptics, and foods with unpleasant aromas. It was noisy, too—loud voices, rolling carts, the clanging and clamor from the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. 

I remember calling out for my parents. 

A nurse delivered my meal tray, lowering the guardrails. “Your Mommy and Daddy are not here,” she said. “I’m sure they’ll be visiting soon.” 

If there was anything other than a cup of tea on that tray, I didn’t see it. Rage blinded me. 

“It would be good for you to drink a little,” the nurse coaxed. I refused to look at her. 

“I don’t like tea,” I scoffed. Why wasn’t it good for me to drink orange juice the way I normally did? In my attempt to push the tray away, I knocked over the teacup. 

She scolded me while cleaning the spill. 

I raised my knees and rested my chin on them, at the same time clasping them tight to my chest. I held on to my defiance a moment longer, and then rocked vigorously back and forth in an effort to drown out her voice. Whatever I dreamt about in that place, I woke screaming. 

In the hospital playroom, another child’s plate of food ended up on the floor. I was responsible. They isolated and sedated me again. Later, a nurse offered to take me to the bathroom, but I refused. The bandaging over my left eye made it difficult to see, and I was afraid. I sat coloring in my chair, as best I could with one eye. 

“I see we ate all our vegetables today,” a cheerful, friendly voice announced. I hadn’t heard that voice before. When I looked up, a tall black man sat on the edge of my bed. I can’t remember anything we talked about, but I dropped my guard. 

“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said. 

“Come on.” He held out his hand. “I’ll walk down there with you and wait right outside.” 

I reached for his hand and held it as I stood. 

With the bandaged eye, it seemed as if we were taking a long walk through a darkened passageway. Of course, the walk was not long, and we were under the glare of the brightest fluorescents. Once in the bathroom, I hurried, afraid he might disappear if I took very long. Upon opening the door, I was relieved to find he was still there. He brought me back to my room. 

He might have been a nurse or a doctor; I don’t know, but he was especially kind to me throughout my stay, and he gave me hope in a traumatic time. Funny, he would never know that, and I would never know his name. 

“When Mommy and Daddy visited with Grandma, they said Zuza was taking care of you and Joey,” I told Robbie now. “I wanted to know when I was going home. Mommy said you and Joey were asking her the same thing every day—especially you.” 

“I prayed for you every night,” he said. 

“Yeah, Mommy told me that.” I smiled. 

“When they told me you were going into the hospital, they wouldn’t say why. They made it seem like a big, dark secret, and they seemed so ashamed. I was terrified you were never coming home. I thought something was seriously wrong with you, and I thought it was my fault.” 

“Your fault? How could it be your fault? I had a problem with my eyes. I needed surgery.” 

“You had a problem with your eyes after you fell down the stairs. I think you were unconscious. They called for help and were told not to move you. You went to another hospital first, in an ambulance.” 

I had a weird flashback of blinking lights in my eyes, which could have been any number of things. 

“Grandma said you had seizures.” 

My eyes widened. “You were there when I fell? Where was Joey?” 

“I was there. Joey was in the house, but he wasn’t at the scene.” 

“Why didn’t you ever tell me? Why didn’t Joey?” 

“They said not to say anything, to leave it alone, since you never remembered. I didn’t know what would happen if I told you. They made it seem like it was the worst thing in the world we could do. Do you see why I hate this lying shit?” 

“I have to ask them about it.” 

“Don’t say I told you.” 

“What am I supposed to say, then?” 

“I don’t know, that you remembered.” 

“Do you think one of them was responsible for making me fall and feels guilty?” 

“No. I caused it. I didn’t want a baby sister. I wanted to be the baby.” 

I clenched my teeth. “You were a kid, and one thing had nothing to do with the other.” 

“No, I was mad at her for hitting me and being so mean to me because she was always protecting you. She would get so mad with that evil hate in her eyes. It was me, Dani. I held you over the banister, and I pushed you over it. I can still picture your face in that moment, how scared you were. I watched you fall, and I saw our mother’s eyes go dead. She blinked like she had checked out for a minute and then came back again. She started screaming.” 

To an extent, I had grown accustomed to outlandish revelations and witnessing the bizarre, but I believe on some level, I already knew this. 

“I thought you were dead,” he said, “that I killed you. Dad said there was a minute you weren’t breathing.” 

“You were a child—a little boy in your first years of school.” 

“I’m so sorry.” He hugged me. 

“It was obvious you didn’t want me around,” I told him. “Even after all that, to be honest, you seemed more accepting of Tommy’s vision of me. When I met your friends, you didn’t seem too happy that they didn’t find me to be ‘retarded,’ as you once put it, or repulsive, or weird. It upset you that they thought I was cute.” 

“No, I was relieved that you were normal, that you seemed normal to them.” 

“You didn’t seem relieved.” 

“I was. Believe me. I may have been confused, but I knew that was a good thing.” 

“And Joey knew about all this?” 

“Not at first. He knew you fell, but up until a year ago, he thought it was an accident. I told him the truth.” 

“What’d he say?” 

“Not much. He was shocked. I don’t think he knew what to do with it. He still doesn’t, and our parents will always blame me.” 

“They don’t blame you, Robbie. They love you! She hid that movie, just like they hid the truth about what happened because, in her own weird way, she was protecting you. They were both protecting you. They all were, really, even Grandma, and I’m sure if Grandma knows, Dom and Zuza know. Did Angie know, too?” 

“No, not Angie. Grandma blamed our mother because it was even possible for that to happen. It’s another reason why she hates her.” 

“Well, it’s over! I loved you then. I love you now. I will always love you and be here for you.” 

He smiled. “I love you, too, Dan, and I’ll make it up to you. I’ll always help you in any way I can.” 

“Hey, you already helped me,” I said. “Thanks for the tip about the shades.” I grabbed my Ray-Bans from the dresser and put them on. 

We laughed. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

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