“What will you be ashamed of 50 years from now?”
The day I saw my brother push my sister, I just froze behind the glass door. “Childish nonsense,” I thought later, but it didn’t feel quite right. I simply didn’t understand why.
My sister was mad and defended herself with a teddy bear. My brother just laughed, enjoying the privilege of his developed muscles. Her eyes seemed disappointed, as if adulthood had failed to represent reason, as if she wanted to stay a child forever.
Being older meant nothing more than picking what you wear and expressing vague opinions at the dinner table.
I felt like we were thinking the same thing but I didn’t have my teddy bear to help her.
The day I got pushed in school, I froze just like I did behind that glass door. Teddy bears were for little girls, and I didn’t know how to defend myself. Laughing at curious kids that spaced out looking at the walls was common practice, and did not seem to bother the authorities. And what did I know? I’d just changed the nylon below my sheets for teen magazines.
I didn’t know what friendship was. I’m still not sure. I was flattered to think they’d gift me their attention. They gathered in groups of five or six and put together some lines they’d heard in the movies. There was always one with a musical talent. There was always one with more developed muscles.
The day my dad grabbed my arm and dragged me through the hall, I forgot to freeze.
He pushed my feeble body onto the bed, and I squeaked until he left. I forgot about my broken classmates and felt upset for being caught in the claws of failed adulthood again. Authority was for me nothing else than a word hard to pronounce.
Rules seemed to have been made up by ruthless monsters testing the power of meaningless coercion. My useless stare at the fluorescent stars on the ceiling got tired, and I threw my sister’s old teddy bear at the glass door and it cracked.
I tried to fix the door with tears but failed to realize they’re not made of iron.
The day my boyfriend pushed me, my head hit the glass door and I sprained my wrist trying to hold the wooden frame. I didn’t have time to freeze and my arms decided to protect my head from the razor-edged crystals, as if my muscles were suddenly made of iron.
Pushing seemed to be the way to show attention and oh, I felt important.
My mind couldn’t grasp efficient words and my numb tongue was merely an obstacle. After all those years, my idea of adulthood remained untouched. The dangling pieces of glass sang a cruel lullaby, while his astounded face faded in the cold black.
The day I found myself lifting my arm in front of my son, I remembered my sister’s cry. He did not understand physics, and his curiosity found him hitting the glass from the door until it crumbled over the other side.
He froze and stood there for seconds with a spaced out stare until his tears started dampening his sweatshirt. I could not explain the fear I had of him hurting and my body tried to show him some attention. My third eye projected the image of my sister’s defeated body while my son forced the teddy bear against his chest.
The day I saw my daughter’s boyfriend pushing her onto the bed, I realized I’d had enough. Attention was what I was not paying. Authority meant just giving a good example. But my brother, my classmates, my dad, and my boyfriend stepped into that room and shoved my daughter’s teddy bear against that boy’s teeth.
His cruel eyes spaced out, and I just wanted him to stop breathing, but the tears unwillingly jumping over the stuffed animal’s fur forced regret on my troubled mind, so I only managed to say: “That’s just not right”. I said it to both of us. I didn’t even see him walk away, as I froze while asking myself rhetorically if what I had done was right.
After fifty years, I thought, adulthood continued to fail to show clearer answers.
Until the day I’m forced to die, I’ll ask myself if my life would’ve been different, had I ask my brother why.