Their worn-out house is suffocating, with David crouching on the floor, his hands inside the muddy pail cleaning the floorings of their house. In as much as their house is ready to be torn down by carelessness, so as indifference ready to crunch David’s home. His mother is shouting at his brothers and is causing further shivering on his unfed body. He still hasn’t eaten for days, and the stomping of his mother’s foot down the stairs makes his frail arms dip back in the pail and pretend to be busy. Too late. He was caught with his hands out of the water. He might no longer have any food again for the rest of the day. His mother has hit him on the face and he fell down the floor. David didn’t stand up, he knows that his mother would think of it as an act of defiance, and that would mean more hits, more pain, and no food. He regained himself while avoiding his mother’s stare, as she curse into his ears.
He remained motionless, he is not allowed to move without permission, while his mother screamed. David kept on telling himself that he can take the pain his mother will give him, she can hit him whenever she wants, but he has to have food. He was hit again and his head was pushed against the counter top, blood gushed from his forehead, flowing downwards with his tears. His mother mockingly smiled over him, evil as she is, and left. Seeing she’s gone, David sighed with relief, reminding himself that he would never let his mother take away his will to survive.
He finished the dishes next. Doing so he was rewarded with a left-over bowl of cereals from his brother. He immediately consumed the food, a few cereals in half-bowl of milk, before his mother changes her mind. She did so before, to mock him, to use it as her weapon. Food has always been a threat to him, not being fed for days. He tried before to dig left-over food in their garbage can, but his mother knew about it so she stopped throwing food in the can. There are times that she mixed some very old canned food in the left-overs – this left David with diarrhea for days. She just knows what David’s got to do to survive.
Since he finished his chores late, he has to be taken to school with the old family wagon. Usually he runs to school, battered and with an empty stomach. His brothers jumped off first, but his mother kept him in to remind him she’s going to take him to her brother to “take care of him.” But David knew that even though his uncle is a hard-nosed man he’s not going to treat him like she does. David pretended to be frightened and dashed off the car even before it completely stopped. Before he completely went of the car she told him to tell them “it was an accident… you ran into the door.” Then she shouted to him, “have a nice day!” then laughed hysterically, with her eyes still red from last night’s stupor.
Because David came to school so late he has to report to the administrative office. The secretary greeted him with a smile and let him wait on the sofa. He admired where he’s sitting on, far from where he usually sits at home. He felt very comfortable, warm, and safe. Moments later the school nurse arrived and led him to her office. They have done this before, the usual check ups and rounds on his body. She examined his arms and face then asked what’s that above his eye. As instructed David said he hit it somewhere, on the hall door, that it was an accident. She smiled at him and took her record book. She told him that he has used that excuse before, last Monday to be particular. David changed his alibi, “i was hit by a baseball bat while playing, it was an accident.” The nurse scolds at him to make him confess, and does so brokenly though he felt that he should protect his mother.
David was told that all is going to be fine and asked him to take off his clothes. David obeyed since they have been doing the same routine for quite a while now. He took off his worn-out long sleeved shirt, a very old one that he wears for two years now. His mother tells him to wear it to school everyday to humiliate him. His pants are just as bad, and his shoes already have holes in the toes. He can actually wiggle his big toes out of one of them. While only on his underwear, the nurse started counting his scars, starting with the slash-like marks on his face. She went down counting and recording every scar thoroughly on her book. She saw the chipped teeth that he slammed against some hard surface being hit. The nurse continued until she reached the scar right above his stomach and broke down in tears. The scar is a reminder of his mother stabbing him. The nurse hugged David and he felt her warmth, he doesn’t want to let go, he wanted to keep that moment forever, he wanted to stay there. She lets go and pats his head and stood up to go out of the room. David put back his clothes on, and after a while the nurse came back with the school principal, Mr. Hansen, with two other teachers, Miss Woods and Mrs. Ziegler. He knows Mr. Hansen really well, as he to him. He’s a usual visitor in his office, more than any other kid in school. The next thing is that they said they’ve called the police, and David shouldn’t worry anything, nothing to worry anymore.
After some time the police officer arrived in the office and sat beside David. The officer asked David to tell him about his mother. David shrugged and said no, no one else should know about their secret. His mother would really get angry if anyone would know, though many already knows of it. Someone calmed him and told him everything will be okay. Reluctantly he told them about him and his mother. After that the nurse asked him to stand up and pulled his shirt over and showed the police the scar over his stomach, the mark where his mother stabbed him. David wanted to tell them that it was an accident, but they knew already what that really is. Then he was excused to sit and wait outside the office. He stayed there looking at the adults gazing at him approvingly. Then he saw the office secretary type some papers. After a long while Mr. Hansen asked him back in and he saw them very happy, and partly worried. Miss Woods knelt down and wrapped David in his arms. She hugged him tight until she went away, not letting him see her cry. After that Mr. Hansen gave him a tray of food from the cafeteria. He was mesmerized by what he saw. He hasn’t eaten real food for a long time already. He gobbled down the food so fast he almost didn’t taste it. The principal then gave him a box of cookies after he finished his meal and told him not to eat fast. After that the policeman asked for his phone number and address. Now he’s dead he thought. She’s going to beat him, she’s going to kill him if she knew he told someone, he told the police.
The police told the principal that they are ready to go, that he has enough information. For David it was hell, he’s going back to his mother, accompanied by a police. Before they left the office Ms Woods hugged him again still teary eyed. When they went out of the building walking towards the gate he saw other kids playing. Some of them stopped to look at his awful exit. The other kids shouted that he’s busted and is going to jail. But the police assured him that everything is gonna be okay. Before totally going out Mr. Hansen told him that he’s going to tell the other children about the whole truth, that David is a good boy. He turns away and waves him goodbye with the other teachers.
After several minutes they are in the Daly City Police Station. He thought his terrible days are over, that his mother is inside waiting for him. But when he came inside no one else is in but him and the officer. There he was told to sit while the officer called his mother. There he thought it is really the end. David begged the officer not to do the call, that he should just take him back to school, that his mother will really get angry. But the officer assured him again, it will all be okay. The officer dialed the number and David flinched at the sound of is mother’s voice. The officer told his mother that David’s not going home tonight, that he is going to stay in the custody of San Mateo Juvenile Department. He bangs down the phone and smiles at him, again reassuring.
Driving a few miles later the officer told him that he’s free. David wondered, he thought he’s going to jail. The officer assured him again that everything will be okay, that there’s nothing to worry about. “Your mother will not be able to hurt you anymore,” he said. David leaned back on his seat, clutched the box of cookies given to him a while ago. With tears running down his cheeks, he smiled with relief, “I’m free?”
Pelzer, D. (1995). A Child Called “It”. New York: HCI.