Imagine a room. It’s about ten by twelve feet square. It’s a normal sort of bedroom – window on one side, double hung with curtains and a shade, and next to it, tucked into one corner, a massive desk sort of thing. Nowadays they might call it an entertainment center; back then my mom had had it made for me.
It was a ‘desk’, a huge and massive one – shelves above, cabinets and shelving below; plenty of places to store my ‘things’ (meaning most of my toys and books), plus a drop-down lid that would make a ‘desktop’ with another shelf set inside. It was redwood stained and had little brass arms that came down with slides to that the lid/front would open.
There was a bed – a twin, tucked in the opposing corner. A wind chime hung in the room – a Thailand one, one our father had gotten during his tour. (He’d given away all his money to some missionaries while he was there; he came back with some trinkets and charms. Nothing else. But meanwhile – while he’d been over there – we’d been starving. That was back in The ‘Hood.) So I had this cheap chime hanging there – right in front of my door. You could open it four inches; no more. After that the chime would ring. There was a reason for this thing. That was because sometimes they would wake me up. And you didn’t want them to be waking you up. Not unless you had to. (Stuff often happened without warning around my house.)
But imagine this thing.
You bring home a ‘C’. Or maybe a ‘C-minus’ is enough to do the job. A ‘D’ would definitely do it. You are thirteen, fourteen years old.
You are confined to this room. Not for a few hours; not a few days. Over a month at a time – six weeks, maybe even more. Stretching it out on into twelve; an even dozen (three months time there, folks). Sometimes even eighteen weeks restriction. All in one motion. All in order to ‘bring up this grade’.
You were never told how you were supposed to do this thing; you relied on your own resources. You weren’t permitted to spend time after school studying; that all had to be done at home. No parties at the gym; no dances; no social gatherings – unless your parents were there. And dad was never there; mom was too tired and too busy . . . the TV was on (but not where we could watch it; and too soft and far away to really hear the thing . . .)
You weren’t allowed to use the phone – EVER. And there wasn’t one in your room.
Not only that but you have no radio, no TV, no internet – nothing at all. Just a lamp. (Later on we would have our own alarm clock. And oversleeping was forbidden. VERY forbidden. You would be punished for that thing. Sometimes even violently so.)
Just those books you’ve read a thousand times over – some science experiment kind of things; some old art supplies – the toy’s you’ve possessed ever since you were a young child – and that bed.
That . . . and a single fly.
I used to rejoice when a fly would get in. He’d be my ‘friend’ and my ‘playmate’ every once and awhile (until I’d get annoyed with him, or start experimenting on him – I had a lot of science toys at the time. The very right things for dissecting something so tiny as a fly’s abdomen – or the hide of a turtle if I got a mind to it. We had (and have) quite a science mind.
But let that tell you something . . . becoming friends with a fly. Because you can’t go outside; no one can come in. You are allowed no friends (not to mention ‘they’ won’t let you have any girl friends – not of any kind; and boys – well, the ‘boys’ are out there doing something; you are sure, but you’ve never met them; you’ve been stuck in this room.)
And that was the thing. While we were allowed to go to school and back (and this was when I was fourteen; fifteen – I had already started drinking; smuggling Irish Coffee in the thermos I was drinking from – as well as a pack of cigarettes – and I’d started smoking dope – courtesy of a “friend” who was not so much a friend as a bully (one of a gang) who was using me to do their homework (and schoolwork) – and steal for them sometimes . . . he ‘made’ me smoke it (I threw up afterward) . . .
but friends were screened and restricted. And it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to be allowed to go outside anyway. Not while you were on restriction. . .
Sometimes they would come in and beat us – either for something we’d done (or left undone; you were let out to do your chores, go to the bathroom, and eat – and of course the ‘school’ sort of thing) – or sometimes for bringing home another bad grade.
Then you’d be confined to your room a little bit more . .
praying for a fly and a friend . . .
someone to talk to
.(Written mostly by “13” one of our more ‘out and about’ alters here at this time.)
(This is what I call a form of ‘social abuse’ – ones in which the parents deny their children anything – the right to have someone over for a party; to go anywhere – restricting them to their rooms for weeks and months on end. Where they don’t allow their children to have normal relationships with other children; where they ‘screen’ and ‘protect’ them too much . . . what a horrible effect it has had . . . – The “Writer (and Adult’s) note; who is not “13”.)