“There is a deeper,
Darker side of me that no one knows
And no one shall ever know.
It will perish with me…”
- Pokie, age 6, 1999
The knife looked so good – so strong, so brilliant in its glitter. He held it in his hands and turned it around, savoring its every curve, its every niche, and its every edge with a gleam in his eye. He licked his dry lips. Locked in his room, he could still hear the screams and shouts of pain, anger and agony from his parents’ room. He felt a knot tighten in his chest – tears forced through his closed eyes. He clutched the knife tightly and held it close against his heart. Why? he asked. Why me? Why now? But the knife – Oh, it looked so good. He smiled through his mental pain, through his agony. As the voices grew louder and louder in the other room, he knew that any moment now his father would burst through his room and repeat what he’d done to his mother. He would start with the belt whipping followed by some slapping around and finally…and finally…it…it was…it was too painful and too disgusting to think about. He cried softly, afraid to make a noise lest his father heard him. “Don’t hurt her,” he whispered through his tears. “I’m sorry, mama. But I can’t protect you. I can’t protect you…I can’t…I can’t…” He rocked back and forth, crying, hugging the knife dearly, and crouching in the corner of his dark room. Pokie was six years old when he cut his own wrists.
“There is a deeper, darker side of me that no one knows. It will perish with me,” said Pokie lying on the white sheets in the white hospital. It was white all around. His mother was sitting beside the bed, in her chair, sobbing quietly. Her tear-streaked face did not hide the red scars of that night. Her right eye was swollen and was turning black. She was bleeding through the ears, but did not complain. She looked down at the tiny, frail figure on the bed.
“Oh Pokie,” she whispered. “Why did you do it, honey?”
Pokie could not hear her. He was on a life support system, battling for his life. The doctor who had looked in hadn’t shown hope in survival. “A great loss of blood,” he had said. “And his blood group’s not too common. It may take a while to acquire it. I’m sorry.” She had cried that she was his mother and he could have every drop her blood if he wanted to. But the doctor had calmly refused saying that there was a mismatch. Please, she had cried. I am his mother! We have the same blood. Not quite, said the doctor.
Now, as she sat and cried, she heard the first rambling words of her six-year-old son, and was immediately out of the chair and by his side, leaning in through the plastic hood of the life support and egging him to speak.
Pokie was six years old when the power failed in the hospital and the life support, which did not have a battery back up, failed with it. Pokie was six years old when he died. He wasn’t the only one. His mother picked up hypodermic syringe lying on the table, filled it with air and thrust it into her veins. Pokie was exactly six years old. It was his birthday.
“Pokie” was one of my earliest short stories, which has just been accepted into the New York Times’ creative young authors’ section. Passing the final reviews, it would be published in the online edition of NYT. ~ Yay ~