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Chapter 2: Age 0-5

The first child that Katie and Zach had, was myself, Nicola. They were in their early twenties, and they were living in Lancaster. When I was a newborn, I had sleep apnea. When it was discovered, my father was working as security later that night, and my mother was asleep on the couch. He told me that he had a feeling that he should go home, so he did. When he got there, he seen Katie sleeping soundly on the couch. But it felt too quiet, so he went to check on me, and was surprised to see my face blue. He panicked and pick me up, and pinched me, getting no response. Then he blew as hard as he could into my face causing me to take in a deep breath and scream. He joked, that the extra volume of the scream was from the pinch. I was in the hospital for two weeks after that, being monitored, or something. My grandmother told me that my uncle, Austin, was always wanting to visit me. He was five years older than me, and he was worried. She complied to his wishes, letting him sit in the room with me until she had to drag him home. Today, he is my favorite uncle and he lives a few states away with his wife and daughter, who is no more than a year older than mine. My father told me that there was another time that I had stopped breathing, and I was in the hospital for only three days since it wasn't as bad as the first time. He had fortunately gotten home earlier that night and was calm enough to help me breath again.

Are you wondering if there was foul play on Katie's behalf? If you are, you should know that I wonder the same thing myself. Had you asked me ten years ago I would have told you absolutely not, don't even think that way of her. Today, I think it may be a possibility. Then again, wouldn't she have made sure to be thorough the second time? Or was she interrupted by my father's timing? We will never know the full truth. At least not while we are alive.

When I was one, they had my brother Brad. Shortly after, when he was almost one, Katie had literally abandoned us. My father had found out that she was cheating on him with his best friend, so he demanded a divorce. It was the second time, and he would not stand for it anymore. For reasons unknown, she left us in a rundown school bus in the field behind her parents house. The bus was the home of stray pitbulls and rotweilers, or so I was told. I know the bus part is true, not sure about the strays. Then again, California was well known for their stray dogs. I have a few interesting stories to tell, but that will come later. Zach had called Brenda, frantic that he had no idea where we were. But he was real good at finding people. They found us, I'm not sure what shape we were in when we were found.

I'm not sure how old we were, but I remember being in a courthouse. My brother and I were playing in an office while Zach and Katie were in court. It was the trial that would decide our fate, which parent had the rights of keeping us. From my own memory, I remember she came into the office in tears, Zach followed behind. There were other adults, Brenda as well, but I paid no mind to them. I only remember a blur of a face as I was told the news that I was to live with my father. Katie knelt down in front of me, and apologized. She said that she would make sure that she writes, visits, and calls. I remember the smell of her lipstick when she gave me a farewell peck. I remember that it was a foul smell, I scrunched my nose at it. But I tried to hide that her lips stunk, I didn't want to anger her. Later on in life, I bought a lipstick, and that's when the memory flashed so clearly in my mind, for it had the same smell. I threw it away, I was crying from the pain and immense anger the memory had brought on. When the ones you hold dear breaks their promise, it could be so painful. Unfortunately overtime, I learned that is not the worst pain a human can feel. I'm going to guess that I was three, maybe pretty close to four. I understood her promise, I understood what was going on.

The only other story that I can share, when we were not split up, is a story my father loves to recite. She was driving, my brother and I were in the back seat. The radio was playing and I was singing the only parts in the song that I was able at my age. "Who, yeah!" Was what the back singers sang. Upon hearing me, Zach and Katie laughed so hard, that she had to pull over so she wouldn't cause an accident. That was a story I asked Zach to tell me many times, for it was the only one.

Zach took us home that day, Brenda was with him. Together, they had my brother, Sean. I wanted her to have a girl, I wanted a sister. Instead of hating my brother for being a boy, I dressed him up in clothes that I had outgrown. I gave him pigtails, and when his hair was long enough, I braided it. When they did have a girl, Gina, two years later, I was out of the habit of dressing Sean up. I had no desire to dress her. I don't remember much, but for as far back as I can remember, I had disliked Gina. I cannot tell you why. Only that I did. While we grew up, I'd bully her. The reason I remember for that will come later. I was four when Gina was born. Despite our differences, we were close.

I must explain here the name of the story, we moved once a year, around tax time mostly. We moved to a different city each time, sometimes coming back to a city, sometimes never intending to. When I was five, I missed out on kindergarten because we were in the middle of a move. Zach and Brenda were not able to enroll me. I have another memory of when I was five. I remember sitting in the back of an ambulance, I was sitting on the bench, and Zach was sitting across from me.

"Am I in trouble?" I asked him.

I remember the look on his face, I was unsure of what it meant then. "No." He had answered. "Someone else is, it wasn't your fault."

"Why am I not laying on that?" I pointed at the gurney. I knew from movies that those going to the hospital in an ambulance would be laying in it. I was confused why I wasn't. I was confused why I had to go, I felt fine.

"Because you don't need to." He answered. The next thing I remember I was sitting in the doctor's room on the bed. The doctor showed me a tube with dark purple like liquid in it.

"It tastes just like grape." He had told me. I freaked out, trying to get out of the room and away from him. I don't know how, maybe I heard someone say it, but I knew I wasn't just drinking that liquid. I knew they were going to stick the tube down my throat and into my stomach. Five nurses had held me down to the bed. One held my head in place, two for my legs, one at each. And two for my arms, one at each. The doctor pried my mouth open, and I let him get his fingers inside, and I bit him. I remember him being surprised that I drew blood. He wasn't happy. Throughout all this I remember I screamed, kicked, and threw my arms. I know I hurt the nurses, but at the time I didn't care. In my mind they were trying to hurt me in some way. They weren't there to help. So I fought as hard as I could. Zach wasn't in the room with me, he told me they didn't allow him. When they finally had me restrained, the doctor brought over a different looking tube, two tinier ones than before. Then it being brought to my nose. I remember up until I could feel it touching my nose, then nothing after. I don't remember anything else that happened.

Later on, when I was maybe twelve, I asked my father. I told him everything that was in the memory, and it felt like it had barely happened the day before. When I finished, his mouth was open in shock.

"You remember that?" He had asked.

I nodded. "Is it true?" Turns out it was. He confirmed that the part with the five nurses, me biting the doctor, and the dark liquid was true because when they finished I was in hysterics, and he had demanded what happened. He had to take me in, the doctor and nurses had to do what they did. I ate a smarties roll sized crack. I had eaten a drug, thinking it was candy. They needed to pump my stomach. That's why it took so many to keep me restrained, I was reacting to the drug. It may also be why I felt they were only wanting to harm me, not help me. He told me that I had found the drug at the edge of our yard, left by the gangsters that hung out in our neighborhood. My godfather, according to Zach, was taking care of them as I was going to the hospital. He never told me how. About five years ago, however, Jenny's husband, James, told me that I found the crack in my father's stash. My godfather's house was getting searched, so he needed Zach to hold onto it. And Zach put it behind the fish tank, where he stashed his candy. Both men are liars. Both scenarios are very possible. On one hand, we did live in that sort of neighborhood that I would find something like that in my yard. On the other hand, Zach always thought he was so clever with hiding his candy. I made it a game to find the hiding spots, and to avoid getting in too much trouble I never snagged enough that he would notice he was missing any. Which one is the truth? I will never know, not while I'm alive.

My godfather, Terry, was always around in my younger years. We would play with his children, the color of skin was never an issue with any of us. Terry and his family were black, we were usually the only white family in any neighborhood. But we never had issues concerning race, we were all a family. I find it now a little odd that when Terry moved, we would move nearby. He was a crypt, but he didn't want to be any part of it anymore. I think he ran when people expected him to be involved. Zach was known to piss people off, so I think maybe we moved near Terry for protection. Just an assumption, not a proven fact. I looked to Terry as family. His wife and children too, I always wished back then that something would happen and we would move in with them. I don't remember why, but I do remember that I wanted to be happy like his children, and I always scorned myself that I wished my father harm. I didn't mind too much if something happened to Brenda, but I didn't want anything to happen to Zach. But some times, I'd let those thoughts slip through. I'd imagine what it would be like with Terry and his wife as my parents. Today I still wonder why. I was too young to remember now, or maybe my mind had buried those memories. Maybe it's for the same reason of the memories I do remember.

Submitted: September 14, 2013

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