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Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.
I am so tired of being karate-chopped.
At eight years old, I am convinced that I live with the most conniving, most malicious six-year-old on the planet, and I have the bruises to prove it.
We have finished dinner and have been excused to go play. I am minding my own business in the coolness of the downstairs rec room, cross-legged on the sofa, trying to get the mane just right on the horse I am sketching on the thick pad of discarded computer reports my dad has brought home from work. My brother is upside down in his toy box, tossing trucks and Legos out on the parquet floor, desperately searching for some elusive toy.
When the clattering noise stops, I look up, curious to see what he has been searching so hard to find. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him tiptoeing around the end of the sofa like a ninja, hands in the striking position he has perfected from watching cartoon characters whack the crap out of each other on TV.
Fed up with all of these stealth attacks, I let him approach, then just as he draws back his arm to unleash a chop, I flip my yellow No. 2 pencil business end up, thinking the overhead light glinting off its shiny point will deter him from actually hitting me. I’m not sure whether he doesn’t see the pencil or if his aim is just horribly off, but without hesitation his arm arcs down cleanly in what is going to be a very painful chop if it connects with my ribs as intended. Instead, there’s a strange force pushing and twisting the pencil I am holding, and suddenly his arm reverses course with my No. 2 pencil buried in his wrist.
The howling commences immediately.
He snatches at the pencil and breaks off the tip. Tears stream down his face as he clutches his wrist.
We have heard horror stories about pencils in children’s eyes, but never in a wrist. I know about lead poisoning. I am convinced I have just administered a fatal dose of lead directly into my brother’s bloodstream. He is going to die, then my parents are either going to kill me in turn or throw me out into the world to fend for myself, because how could they live with a murderer?
I am horrified. By the injury I have unintentionally inflicted, but equally by the speed at which he is thundering towards the stairs to find my parents in the kitchen and tattle.
I follow him up the stairs, waiting for him to collapse at any second, then I linger sobbing by the floor-length curtains in the dining room as he shoves his injured wrist toward my mom. Mom and Dad calmly examine the wound and remove the lead, apply Bactine and a Band-aid, and set about trying to silence the howling. I am worried that they are not dialing 9-1-1 before it is too late. Don’t they know about lead poisoning?
Dad notices me cowering by the drapes and comes to hug me. I feel it is important to say something in my defense before I am sentenced for my crime, so I stammer between sobs, “H-h-he ka-ka-kar-a-te-te ch-chopped m-me.”
“I know,” he says gently, “hopefully this will teach him not to do it again.”
Huh? How could this be? Am I really being absolved of any blame in this incident? Don’t you know your son is about to die of lead poisoning? And that it is my fault?
Maybe Mom is going to be the executioner.
But she hugs and comforts me as well, and though she does tell me I shouldn’t point pencils or other sharp objects at people, she reassures me that my brother will be fine. She does not mete out any further scolding or punishment. I have committed a terrible crime and gotten away with it.
As my sobs subside and my breathing returns to normal, I dig deep and offer my brother a feeble apology for stabbing him. My parents have to force him to apologize in return for karate-chopping me.
I go to bed relieved (more that I didn’t get in trouble, I think, than that I didn’t kill him) and hopeful that the ninja attacks have ended. He goes to bed pissed off and plotting his revenge.
Within days, he is perfecting the art of frog punching me right where my bicep meets the bone.
I am sharpening every pencil I can find.