The boy sat at his desk, staring at it’s fake plastic wood, the hard curved panels of plywood behind him and under his butt.  Beneath him was a square cube; he sat on it, sitting on his books.  Before him were two walls, joined in a corner.  He smiled, playing with his hands and muttering to himself . . .

That was ‘me’ as a child in first grade.  I was the one who wouldn’t stop talking – not for anything, anyone, or despite the punishment they gave me.  Place me with other children and I would start talking with them, making friends.  Put me in the corner and I’d talk to myself.  Put me with grownups, and not yet unafraid, I would start talking to them – asking questions and getting into things.  I was a very inquisitive child driven by insatiable curiosity, a talented ‘artist’ for my age, with a wide ranging imagination, and . . . I had been highly abused according to what the professionals (and my wife) had told me.

The thing was: I was always talking to myself – inside, if not out.  But everyone does that: talk to yourself.  You even have ‘sides’ that argue.  So do I.  But as a child . . . a creative child blessed (and therefore cursed) with a wide ranging imagination.  This was not a “wild” imagination.  Imagination had to be based upon truth, or an extension of that.  There had to be what WE thought was a bit of scientific ‘truth’, even at play . . .

And so I suppose it started with those stuffed animals he ‘owned’ (knowing in his secret life that they were not his.  Everything belonged to the parents, even him.  How could HE own anything when he was not allowed to even own his mind?  Much less his body.  His parents and the Army owned those things.  He just ‘inhabited’ them.

The boy sits in his room.  There is a desk – a huge monstrosity his mother had special built for him, it holds everything – and a dresser, and a single bed.  That’s all – him and the stuffed animals he has gathered in a ring.  They are talking . . . constantly holding forth a conversation – him and his bear, him and his ‘friend’ . . . he’s been sent to his room again for ‘being bad’ – perhaps he’s gotten whipped, but he doesn’t remember that thing, not too well . . . he talks and whispers to his friends, his Leo the Lion hand puppet on one hand . . .  whispering in its ear, tears running down sometimes . . .

I don’t know what all he said.  I can’t recall a single word – I just can almost hear them – whispers in the back of my head. . .

“He won’t stop talking!” the teacher complained, frustrated.  My mom told me this – and I remember.  “I put him in the corner and it does no good!  Instead of talking to others, he starts talking to himself!  I don’t know what to do with him!”

She was a mean teacher.  She called me a Nazi and German and said I was no good.  Even at art though she gave me an award.  It wasn’t until I got the award that I found I had done bad.  But I wouldn’t cry.  Not for her.

Who was I talking to?

I know.

I was talking to myself.  All of the time.  My imaginary friends; the ones inside.  And my hands were for them talking to me.  I could make both my hands be my friends.  The dots on the board were my friends.  Even the flies became my friends when I was a teenager.  Sometimes they were the only thing to do . . .

Isolation.  Imagine a child and you keep ‘him’ in isolation.  Not constant isolation, mind you – but social isolation (sometimes) and isolated from family.  As far as he knows, there are only three members in his family – four if you count the dog.

(gee . . . this was right about the time the teenager made me have sex with ‘him’ . . .)

Not a good thing.  Especially to a highly creative, imaginative child who has been abused – badly abused – and is being abused still.  Hell, the situation is even worsening . . . but it does no good to tell . . .

“Doesn’t everybody go through something like this?”, I remember him thinking/saying to himself, looking at the neighbor kids.  Some of them ‘went through it’.  Some of them ‘went through it’ with HIM.  How could he not know?  And yet – how could he know anything different?  There was no one to teach him what goes on in back rooms . . . except for the occupants of that room themselves . . .

He goes on talking to his children.  The ones upon the floor.  The bear has become very alive to him.  They all have.  Along with some ‘others’ inside . . . inside his heart and his head.

He doesn’t even know who they are at this moment.  Sometimes . . . sometimes ‘he’ has difficulty recalling his own name . . .

The child who talked too much.  Talking to himself in the corner of the room.  Whispering while he watches his hands writhe in his lap sometimes, playing with themselves.  Listening to his own mind; his own echoes . . .  he personifies everything . . .

A lamp falls, its glass base breaking.  I had accidently pulled it down by the cord crawling around under the end table and it had gotten broken.  I wasn’t sad because I was about to be beaten.  I was sad because the lamp could no longer complete its function.  I had ended its ‘life’ . . .

I feel that way about a lot of things.  So does my daughter.  She is about to move and she worries her old apartment will suffer feelings of abandonment . . . even though her boyfriend says it’s not so . . .

Like daughter like son like father.

They say madness runs genetic.  It runs on one side of my family.

And I guess it runs in mine.

 

 

 

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