Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Right Hook

The blinding heat of the sun burns my skin and causes sweat to form on my upper lip and forehead. As I wipe it away with the back of my hand, I walk to the batter's box. In a semi-squat, I raise my bat, ready to smack the ball to Kingdom Come.

The pitcher sends his best fast ball my way, and I let the bat fly, connecting with a gratifying crack. The ball shoots over the outfielders' heads and lands behind second base in fair territory. I take off running.

But before I can get to first base, a whistle is blown, and everyone is running to line up.

Utterly disappointed, I kick at the dirt as I trudge to line up. As usual, my fun is ruined by school.

Standing with my arms crossed, I wait for the teacher to escort us inside. The Kindergarten class comes out, excited for their turn on the playground.

Maria skips by me. "Hi, Kara!" she calls.

Seeing her smiling face brightens me a little. I accept her hug as the kid in line behind me asks, "Is that your sister?"

"Yep," I answer as I release her.

"How sweet," the kid mocks. "Does the baby have to hug her mama?"

I frown at him. "Be nice."

He sticks his tongue out at me and turns back to Maria. "Are you a baby? I bet you cry at night 'cause you're afraid of the dark."

Maria stares at this kid, her eyes wide in sadness.

"Look here," I say, "you leave her alone. Stop bein' mean."

His answer is to kick my sister -- hard -- right in her legs. She goes toppling over, crying.

I launch myself at him, knocking him in the face, and sending him sprawling into the dirt. He only laughs, but I don't let that stop me. I fall on top of him, kicking and snarling.

A teacher separates us. She can't get a word in because I'm screaming at the kid at the top of my lungs. "Don't you touch my sister again! I'll make you sorry you did! If I see you go near her, you'll get a punch in the face!"

I look over at my sister who's being comforted by her teacher. I'm so livid, I don't even realize I've shocked all my classmates. They are quickly ushered inside as the mean kid and me are given a talking to.

I don't remember if I was sent to the principal. I do remember his very round, scratched-up face, and the "dare you" expression in his eyes.

That was it for me. He was dead meat from that point on.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Woe Is Me -- Part 2

In the spirit of the season, a Christmas story for you:

I was an angel in the church Christmas pageant. (Don't laugh.) I had silver tinsel for a halo, and a white robe.

My mom directed it, which makes Big Idea Number 4.

Our last song was "Mary Had A Baby". We sang it as we processed out of the church.

"Mary had a baby, yes, Lord. Mary had a baby, yes, my Lord. Mary had a baby, yes, Lord! The people keep a comin' but the train done gone."

This is the last thing I remember before waking up in a orange-yellowish plastic chair in the parish hall. I opened my eyes to see Maria sitting across from me looking very afraid. "Kara?" she croaks at me.

"Kara, honey? How are you?" my dad asks.

"What happened?" I struggle to say, trying to figure out why I wasn't running around with all the rest of the kids.

I must've blacked out again because I don't remember getting into Noah's car. He was driving, my dad was in the passenger seat, and my mom and I were in the back.

"Kara, say your ABCs," Mom orders me.

"I know my ABCs. I don't need to say them," I argue.

"Say them anyway," she commands.

I guess I did, I don't remember. She had to keep me awake. Apparently, while having a jolly time running around the parish hall, some kid ran into me, and I fell backwards, smashing my head on the ground. I was knocked out. Maria saw the whole thing.

They took me to the hospital, which was about a 15 minute drive from the church. Noah made it in 5.

I threw up once they got me into the examination room. On that day, I felt like a I threw up a thousand times, and every time I did, they had to move me to a different room.

This isn't true, of course. I only threw up once while they examined me. I was okay, but my mother was given strict orders to wake me up every hour for the next 24 hours. I don't remember that, either.

I'll tell you what I do remember about being knocked out. It's kind of odd.

If you ever pick up a koozie, squeeze it -- just once. It probably won't give you a headache, but it does give me one. For a long time, I didn't know why that happened, but at some point I realized that when you squeeze a koozie, that's what your brain feels like when it collides with your skull. A squishy, weak mass capable of being demolished by one good smash.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Woe Is Me

I got on the bus one afternoon with a knifing pain in my side. When it came, I doubled over, holding my stomach.

I laid down on the seat, knowing Maria watched me with wide and fearful eyes. I didn't know what was wrong, so I couldn't ease her worry.

The pain came and went, came and went. I huddled in the seat, praying to God to make it go away. It didn't.

Somehow I walked home. I don't remember the trek.

When we arrived, I stumbled into the house and fell onto the couch. I begged my mother to take me to the doctor. The shock on her face was comical, but I was in too much pain to enjoy it.

She put me in the car and drove me to see our doctor. I don't remember the examination. I only remember lying in a ball and working through the slicing pain -- my eyes squeezed shut, my teeth clenched tightly.

I fell asleep.

I don't know how long they allowed me to sleep. I woke up on my own, still in the room. When I went outside, I saw the doctor sitting in chair close by.

"You're awake?"

I nodded.

"How do you feel?"

I waited for the pain. "Fine," I finally answered.

He smiled at me. "I think you can go home. I'll fetch your mother for you."

He called it atypical appendicitis. I call it ulcers. I'll explain later.