Master Mistress

January 18, 2007

Childhood memories of a misspent youth

Filed under: Random Everyday Texts — mastermistress @ 2:21 pm

When I was 19 months old, my mother took me across the road to visit the elderly lady whom lived there. While they talked, I busied myself in her bedroom. I can still remember the layout of the room. Her single bed and the red candlewick bedspread arranged neatly under the window. Standing in front of her dresser marveling at her array of old lady stuff, the powder and lipstick that smelt like her, there was a jar of pills that I couldn’t get the lid off. So I took them to mum and announced, ‘Lollies’. I still see the blood draining from her face and her tobacco-stained fingers with chipped red nail polish poking down my throat like a dagger. She held a yellow plastic under my chin although I couldn’t understand why, my gagging not consistent with the timing of her sharp prods. I wanted to tell her I hadn’t taken any but didn’t yet have the words to say it. I know I felt relief when she stopped doing it, just as the elderly lady hung up her telephone.
I was confused because we were riding in the elderly ladies car, a red and white Holden stationwagon with a bench seat in the front. It had my car seat in it which I was delighted about as it meant we were going for a ride in the car. I loved that. I sat there as my mother put my shoes on.
My seat was a homemade job with two hooks that fitted over the back of the seat, nothing that fastened to my body, more like a highchair than any protective device. It was furnished with white cracked vinyl that always irritated the back of my legs. It used to be my sisters and then my brothers.
My next memory linked to that was calmly walking into a large echoey white space with arched windows and doors. There was nobody else there. The floor had black and white tiles that made a great tapping sound under my shoes. I was dancing on it and my mother took me by the hand and made me sit beside her on a long bench seat for what seemed like an eternity. Finally a woman came out and led us to a room. She had white hat on with stripes and a red cardigan, but I don’t remember how many stripes there were.
The room was green. I didn’t know it was green then. But I remember it was green now because that is what my eyes were looking at. There was a window to the left side and some sinks that looked like the concrete one we have in our wash house. Two people shapes were there talking to each other with their backs to me and then occasionally glancing at me. They wore green everywhere, on their heads, around their bodies and over their faces. My mother had put me on a long skinny bed up high. There were other people in there. Everyone was calm and not talking much. The two masked people came over and said stuff to my mother. She was crying now. They went away and came back with something I now know looks like a petrol bowser. It was at this point my mother made me lie down on my back, tears streaming down her face. The other woman joined in with her. I can still feel the pressure of their hands. It seemed like forever as this cold metal thing competed for breathing space down my chest. I tried to let screams escape because I didn’t think they could hear me wanting it to stop. I still remember the cold eyes behind the masks, looking at me, ignoring ME. They couldn’t find anything in my stomach but I knew that I hadn’t taken any pills. I don’t remember leaving. But I do remember being made to sleep in a metal cot in a room with other children. I stood in it and cried and cried. It was the middle of the day and I couldn’t sleep. I remember playing on the floor with boys who were pushing a wooden car around and being upset because they wouldn’t let me have a turn. I grew up thinking this was in relation to the other thing, but my mother told me I was hospitalized for Bronchial Pneumonia when I was 17 months old. I remember it. I remember other stuff too. Like the old flooring in our house. A carpet that was grey and brown with flecks through it. In places it was ripped and had white fluffy stuff underneath. The vinyl tiles in the kitchen and dining room were yellow, blue and grey. When it was hot I used to lie on the tiles under the table where it was cool and next to my mother when she was cooking at the stove. I spent a lot of time on that floor, of course I should remember it. My mother never believed me. I remember sitting on the floor with a white ball in front of me that had pink and blue raised shapes on the moon and stars as well as babies. It rolled forward out of reach and I couldn’t get to it and remember the frustration and crying. My mother never believed me about that either and that I must remember someone else telling me about it. Apparently that was my first birthday. There were wooden floors in the rest of the house. I shared a room with my sister. I remember endless hours lying on my back in the white cot with transfers and beads on the end, waiting for the light to waver under the door just like it did when someone was about to open it. I remember the pressure of having nappies pinned, sucking rusks in a high chair, lying on the floor propped up with a bottle in the sun, my legs kicking around in the air. I can still see the patterns as I looked into the sun, caused by what I now know happens while drinking fluid lying down. I could go on recounting the sensations and thoughts. Being electrocuted while my mother vacuumed the floor, when I stuck a hairclip in a powersocket and woke up across the other side of the room at my mothers feet.
Then there was the time when I was sitting outside while my parents gardened away happily. I remember I was happy because they were busy and not arguing. I was three years old. I knew summer was coming by the smell of the freshly cut grass. There were bees flitting on daisies and dandelions. I clearly remember saying to them ‘I wonder if I will remember this when I am a big girl?’
My father said without looking, his hands still busy picking weeds,
‘Only if you want to remember it.’
I’ve always been scared of forgetting the little things.

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