Monday, January 21, 2008

Two For a Nickel

5 Years Old

Faster than a speeding bullet.
More powerful than a locomotive.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Look! Up in the sky!
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!.

I’m rocking, rocking, rocking in Ma’s big wooden rocking chair next to our bunkbeds and across from the big black and white TV, watching my favorite tv show.
“Come on, play with me,” Frankie says. “NO, I wanna watch Superman,” I say, still in the chair.
“You always want to play with me, why not now? I’m letting you play with me,”
Frankie says as he stands in front of Lois and Jimmy.
“STOPPPPP!!!, I wanna watch Superman! Get out of the way Frankie,” I plead as he turns the TV off.
“CUT IT OUT FRANKIE, or I’ll tell Mommy.”
I’ll tell mommy you’re not minding me. I’m supposed to be watching you and you know how mad she gets if I call her at work and tell her you’re being bad.”
“I’m not being bad,” I scream. “I just wanna watch Superman.”
“I’ll turn Superman back on if you play with me. You can watch while we play. I’ll show you.
I’ll even give you a dime from my dime bank for cupcakes.”
Frankie turns tv back on. “Get on the floor Suzy and lay on your tummy. All you have to do is that, honest.”
I think about being able to watch Superman and keep Frankie quiet and what I will do with the dime from his bank.
I get off the rocking chair, lay on the cold linoleum floor, rest my head in my hands, and I lean on my elbows.
“What are you doing Frankie? Are we wrestling?”

Frankie is laying on top of me rubbing, rubbing, rubbing against me up and down up and down. Frankie stops to pull my pants down.
“Don’t take my pants off, it’s cold.” “You won’t be cold,” Frankie says, “I’ll cover you like a blanket would so you won’t be cold.” Frankie gets on top of me again.
Something hurts, like something stuck inside me. My elbows hurt from the floor rubbing against them. My hiney hurts from the stick inside. I tell Frankie. He stops, goes into Mommy’s room and gives me a pillow to lay on. “Here, lay on this and I’ll go nice and easy instead, I promise.”

It still hurts, but I watch Superman and pretend I know Superman and he knows me. People try to hurt him and they don’t know he can’t be hurt, but he pretends to be hurt so they don’t find out he’s really Superman. Superman never ever gets hurt.


Superman ends.

Frankie ends.

I get up from the floor and pull up my pants.

“I don’t like that game. It hurts too much. Where’s my dime”?
Frankie goes to his bureau drawer and pulls out his dime bank with the letters "CSB" in big gold letters and goes into the kitchen.
He’s back with a butter knife and tips the CSB dime bank up and eases out a dime through the thin slot using the butter knife to guide it through.
“I’ll give you this dime on one condition- you don’t tell Mommy, and if you do I’ll tell her you stole it from me. She knows you don’t have money.”
I take the dime and walk to Sherman’s variety store.

My hostess cupcakes are waiting for me. Two for a nickel. Four cupcakes, all mine. I can buy two packages. I pick out the two biggest packs of cupcakes I see and pay Sherman the dime my brother gave me.

I sit on the steps of Sherman’s, open the cupcake package wrapping carefully not to squish the cupcakes. I take a big bite out of one of them. The cake part with some of the cream filling is the first I taste. It melts in my mouth and I swallow the pieces with a longing for more.

With each cupcake I follow the same rules, my rules:

Bottoms first, the cake part

Tops last, because the frosting with the squiggle is the best part.

I eat the bottom first with a little bit if the cream filling and save the chocolate frosting with the white squiggle for last with the rest of the cream inside.

The more I eat the cupcakes, all four of them, the hurt that my hiney was feeling from the game begins to go away.

I begin to feel better and not so empty.

Frankie can be nice when he wants.


Blogger Carrie Wilson Link said...

I am sick to my stomach. You've done it, Suzy, you've described the indescribable. You've put us in that room, on our tummy's, cold and sore, with you.

Bless you, sweet Suzy girl. Bless you.


12:29 PM  
Blogger Manic Mother Of Five said...

I was so excited to see a post and then the reality hit me... Oh Suzy, as Carrie has said you put us there in that room and I felt so powerless. Sorry, sorry, sorry.


2:56 PM  
Blogger Jerri said...

This is incredible writing, Suze. You've got me shaking and sick to my stomach. You've got me tasting the cake and the frosting and feeling the comfort of the sugar rush.

It's an honor to know the woman you've become.

Blessings be.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Carrie Wilson Link said...

You had me so worked up I put an apostrophe where their didn't need to be one. THAT'S how powerful this is!

Love the tweak. Take an A.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Wow, you told that story so skillfully. Beautiful writing, awful heartbreaking story. You really captured what a child's mind can do with a dime and a cupcake when that's what they have to work with. So glad you have a place to share this now. Thank you.

Hope you are doing well out there.

3:46 AM  
Blogger dgibbs said...

Suzy that was a great job describing how you coped through a horrible situation and at such a young age.


10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can write like that, you have come out of your ordeal pretty well.

God bless.
Crystal xx

2:45 PM  
Anonymous paul maurice martin said...

Really gets the child's perspective across. Makes me wish I could be back at work - as an elementary school counselor, I was sometimes able to stop some similar situations.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Maddy said...

You leave me speechless.
BEst wishes

4:55 PM  
Blogger Mystic Wing said...

Lord, Suzy, this is some amazingly brave writing on so many levels.

YOu've done some amazing work, friend. Can't tell you how much I admire you.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Oh Suzy, this had me in sobs the first time I read it, too choked with emotion to know what to say or how to comment on the writing itself yet. All I wanted to do is reach into your past, sit down next to that little girl on the steps at Shermans, put my arms around her, and hold her so tight that I can somehow squeeze out some of that awful pain and emptiness.

But now I can breathe and read it again. And the writing is masterful. Truly. To be put in those moments, some of the most painful moments of your life, so honestly, so simply, so clearly, so beautifully--I am stunned and honored to witness this level of writing. Your craft continues to deepen and grow in ways that knock my socks off.


3:39 PM  
Blogger Mid-lifer said...

Like mmof I was so pleased to see a new post - but now I just don't know what to say - all I can think is Oh.. my..God.


1:19 PM  
Blogger La La said...

Holy shit. I'm so sorry for all that happened. And, yes, you put us right in the room with you feeling it all, the frustration of wanting to watch Superman, the confusion and pain of what your brother was doing to you, the horror of it all, the secrecy, and then the cupcakes and your rules for how to eat one. Superb writing! Really!

Blessings to you. Thanks for sharing so bravely!

2:02 AM  
Blogger Michelle O'Neil said...

Like I said before Suzy, thank God for the cupcakes. Thank God for the brilliance that little people have to take care of themselves in whatever way possible, whatever way they can.

No one gave you comfort so you comforted yourself.

You are a miracle.

9:55 PM  
Blogger She's like the wind said...

I too am sick to the pit of my stomach. I quickly realised and wanted to beg you not to get onto the floor. You dealt with it as well as a child could, not fully understanding, even thinking your brother could be nice.

love and hugs xx

8:02 AM  
Blogger kario said...

I am so proud of you. That little girl was forced to grab for the few bright spots in her life and hold on to them with such tenacity. Her courage and strength are awesome. She did the only thing she could do - find a way to take care of herself.

Your strength as a writer and as a human being shines through like the light of a thousand candles. I am so sorry that this is part of your journey, Suze, but I am incredibly proud to know you and be a spectator and a friend throughout it.

Love, love, love.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

I hope that precious five year old knows how brave she was and how resourceful to find comfort in cupcakes. It's a testament to your courage and work that she trusted you enough to let you tell this story. A story that is already setting you free and that has the power to help other wounded babies find the path to their freedom.

I'm honored to call you friend and peer and fellow seeker. Much love to you.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Terry Whitaker said...

I feel so honored, as well--just to know someone so incredibly courageous.

Your voice will empower multitudes.

5:55 PM  
Blogger s@bd said...

oh suzy.

I'm with Mo'N - you are a miracle.

much love

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Frogdancer said...

Beautifully written, gutwrenching post. You've done an amazing job.

5:43 PM  
Blogger menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Okay so I am now able to catch up with you and your hearbreaking story. Powerful stuff and fantastically well written. I think I've been through enough to say to you that it isn't what happens to you in life that is important - it's how you cope with it. That's what makes the difference between survivors and victims. That you cam commit this stuff to paper is a testament to what a strong character you are.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That is so powerful. I started to sob when I started reading this. I have no idea who you are and you have no idea who I am. But I'm sorry. That is phisicaly and mentaly scaring. I'm only 11, our teacher told us to look up stories like this, to understand what people go through...but you were so young. I'm very very sorry this is something you expirienced. NO ONE should have to go through that....

All my love <3
Shaelyn grade 5/6 student

11:44 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Dear Shaelyn,
Thank you so much for writing to me and expressing your concerns and feelings.

Unfortunatley this happens all too often. The reason I write is to let people know that silence is the control the perpetrator has over its victim.

I am okay today though. I have a very good psychiatrist who helps people with issues like mine.

Her name is Doctor Hadar Lubin, MD and runs the New Haven Post Traumatic Stress Center. She helps, children, adults, families and veterans and also anyone who has experienced trauma.

You have an amazing teacher!

My best to you Shaelyn and thank you again for writing.


1:20 PM  

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