Heimlich Maneuver

Flashback. I am not exactly sure about a whole lot else surrounding this, or why I’m suddenly reminded of this one, but it popped into my mind yesterday sometime. I mean, we did go over it in therapy, but it hasn’t really “stuck” like many of the rest. I am fairly certain there must have been a tremendous amount of upheaval going on around this time, because there’s a lot of black out both before and after this.

I think I must have been in about fifth grade, and at the school where we did the hand prints on the wall. Yes. That is correct, because I remember that my teacher had taking a “liking” to me. And I use the quotes over the word liking, because what I really mean is that I believe she could tell I was going through a lot and she felt sorry for me. I, for the life of me cannot recall why we were staying with grandma and grandpa in their trailer. Given everything that had gone on up to this point any reason was possible. I just can’t recall it. I was pretty much fully checked out most of the time. But anyways. Actually, I think that it was that we would go to school from our trailer, and then go to our grandparents’ trailer after school until our parents got home from work, that might be it.

There had been a pretty decent stretch of consecutive days where I didn’t have money for lunch at school. At first I was able to kind of shrug it off like “they” (Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa) forgot. I don’t know who was responsible or at fault, but someone was. Then I was able to get by, by borrowing an item of food from one of the kids who took their lunch to school. Then I was able to get by, just by not eating. I would just sit there while the rest of the kids ate their lunches. I am not exactly sure how long this went on. It wasn’t a very long time, but it was long enough to matter. It also went on long enough, and also intermittently enough that the teacher started to notice. I remember one day, I was sitting at the lunch table with nothing in front of me, when my teacher approached me and pulled me aside in the cafeteria. I thought I was in trouble at first, but she was concerned that I hadn’t been having lunch lately.

Upon her initial inquiries about my food/lunch/money situation I did my best to play it off. I think I said something like, “I’m not really hungry so I didn’t get a lunch”. Another time she asked it was something like, “I was gonna bring my lunch, but I forgot it on the table.” Another time it was, “I don’t really eat a lot, so I’m not really hungry.” And finally, one day, she held me back in the classroom to ask me what was really going on, as the other kids spilled out into the hallway and headed to the cafeteria. And this time, I didn’t utter much in explanation. I just kind of did my ‘go-to’ when the heat turned up- checked out and stared at my shoes. She did the best she could to get information out of me, but I was not going to give her any. I had been down this road, or a very similar one before and I knew that if I volunteered a lot of information to her, then CPS was gonna come knocking on the door. So I just stayed quiet.

I think she was able to discern that something was really off, and that I wasn’t going to talk, so she did what the mother in her told her to do. She got into her pocket book and pulled out a five dollar bill and gave it to me. What happened next told her everything she needed to know. I wrapped my arms around her and gave her a big squeeze and said thank you. Then I made a very quick B-line toward the door and cafeteria. I was starving.

And wouldn’t you fucking know it? Just my luck. I was so damn hungry that when I sat down I started devouring my food. Like a hostage would eat. I finished up the main stuff, and unpeeled an orange. I woofed that thing down as fast as I could. A little too damn fast apparently, because it got stuck in my throat. I was choking. Like really choking. I flailed my arms and made really strange noises as I attempted to gulp in air. I got those sketchy butterflies in my stomach, the ones you get when you pass state troopers with dope in the car, ya know? This was terrifying. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get it out. One of the kids sitting by me noticed and was like, “Are you okay, Stevie?” And yelled for help. And guess who ran to my aid? Yep. My teacher. She ran over to me, wrapped her arms around me from behind, and gave me a tight squeeze of her own. With two fists wrapped into each other, she applied pressure into my chest and out popped a nasty ball of half chewed orange, some peel, and a seed. She had quite possibly just saved my life. I was so embarrassed. What a crazy turn of events.

When I got back “home”, to my grandparents’ house and they asked how school was, and I told them about what had happened they were happy I was okay. But they were very unhappy about my teacher buying me lunch. Apparently I was in trouble for this. Or someone was, but they were not happy. I could tell. I don’t know if they were mad at me for “exposing” my family, or what, but it was made very clear to me that this was not to happen again. So when I was again at school with no lunch, and my teacher again pulled me aside I had to tell her that she wasn’t allowed to buy me lunch anymore because I was in trouble for it. So she didn’t. She packed me a lunch, every day. On days that I had lunch money, which was rare during this stretch, I got my own. On days I didn’t she handed me a brown paper bag with a sandwich, a fruit, some crackers and a chocolate milk. Every single time. This must have happened more times than I can recall. And it must have happened so many times that apparently she had seen enough of it. Now, I cannot confirm or deny if it was in fact she who called, but someone did. Someone called the authorities and called my grandparents directly. I don’t know who was on the other line when the call came in, but I was sitting right in front of grandpa’s big ol’ wooden framed turn-knob T.V when it did. And the conversation was relatively short and heated. “Didn’t I tell you NOT to be gettin’ lunches from your teacher, Stevie?” Grandma asked me. And Grandpa, a man of few words chimed in, for me to go out back and pick a switch off the tree in the yard. “And if it ain’t thick enough, I’m gonna use something else.” Well, apparently it was not thick enough, because next thing I know, I am being held by both my grandma and grandpa, with all their might, while I did my best to squirm and fight to get away while they absolutely blasted me, all over my back, ass, legs and arms with fucking extension cord. I must have taken about 20 licks. All over me. I was squirming and screaming and scared. White hot blast after white hot blast. My skin on fire, and the feeling of being hit with a glowing piece of wire. It was absolutely horrible. I was bawling and screeching and squirming. I had never been beaten like this before.

When It finally stopped, I was told to go to Josh’s room and not come out or I would get it again. And when I got back with my parents, they were told of the incident and I was then scolded by them too, for taking lunch from my teacher and getting the authorities called on everyone. I had never felt so voiceless and powerless in my life. Life fucking sucked. I was just hungry.

After the savage beating from my grandparents with the extension cord, I had to wear jeans and long sleeves to school for about a week, to cover up the welts so no one would see them. But at least no one forgot to make sure I had lunch every day from then on, so that was a win.

I didn’t feel safe anywhere. And anytime I did get to experience safety, I knew it was only a matter of time before it was ripped away from me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s