achup hoa

War and Peace
January 27, 2010, 7:04 am
Filed under: Family

We don’t hug or kiss. We don’t say, “I love you.” We don’t talk about our feelings. And when it comes to the written word, the exchange of notes, e-mails, or letters, are fairly short or shallow. But, there exists a silent peace to the appearance of this outward war.


One time we were crawling through the tiny back window of the new truck Papa just brought home. We liked enclosed spaces, so I wriggled my body through the opening from the inside of the backseat to the bed of the truck. She followed my move like a faithful soldier. As her head went through, she bumped her mouth on the edge of the glass and then started to bleed. My feet might have had something to do with that depending on their angle and position in relation to her face, but I can’t say for certain the exact details of the moment. I just know I got through the window, and Papa forbid us from ever doing that again. She didn’t lose any teeth, so that was a good thing.


My parents used to own a video store. It was next to a Hispanic Roman Catholic Church and a Little Caesar’s, which I thought sold excellent breadsticks with just the right amount of garlic. The name of the store was Video Today, so if you went in, you could rent a video, literally, that day, and then pick up some breadsticks next door. And you could do all of that fairly quickly, that is, if it wasn’t Sunday, because if it was Sunday, then the parking lot was jammed packed with churchgoers.

After school, we typically headed to the store, where we did homework and ate snacks behind the counters, watched strange people come and go, and ran around the aisles of movie-laden white shelves. And then on special occasions, we stole quarters to crank into the red toy machine that stood near the toilet in the bathroom.

I don’t remember exactly what we were doing, but one day we were twirling rapidly in close quarters behind the counter. All of a sudden, she started crying, which was ruining the grace of the moment for me, so I stopped my twirling. She yelled at me, lifted her shirt, and showed me a scratch on her belly that was bleeding. I did not ever recall my spinning, flailing arms ever making physical contact with her.


Papa and Mommy had a minivan once. It had a grey, leather interior. I know this because I distinctly remember taking a blue pen and writing on the back seat and cup holder.

On a Sunday, we drove into the garage after coming back from church. The memory of our spatial orientation is not clear in my mind, but as I got out of the van, I rammed the heavy, sliding door onto her thumb. It took a couple of years for that finger to look normal again.


On a lazy weekend, Amy and I were trying to make a fort out of blankets by hanging them from a series of shelves that Papa had set up in the garage. Our fort was coming along quite nicely. Structurally, it was simply much more stable than the “propped-up-pillows-with-blankets-on-top” model we had already experimented with in the living room. There were boards of drywall laid up against the shelves and we were moving them around to create the fort walls. I tidied up my portion of a wall, and then Amy screamed, clutched her hand, and ran into the house howling for adult supervision. I was completely clueless as to what was happening. I thought we were just making a fort.

I went into the house and skipped up the stairs to Papa’s room. I could hear him yelling, partly because he hates the sight of blood, and partly because Mommy was not in the house and oh my goodness would she be lividly furious. She was sobbing as he held her arm and doused her palm in alcohol. I never got to see it, but she always describes it as a red, bloody gash. I checked the drywall boards for evidence of this occurrence, but found none. It must have been an extremely clean cut.


My parents bought a treadmill one weekend. I remember going to Sears to go get it. Once we neared the exercise equipment section, there they were—rows and rows of those revolutionary machines. She and I rushed forward and started to leap from treadmill to treadmill. Squealing juvenile maniacs.

The new treadmill ended up in the family room, positioned in the corner, as a trophy of true, athletic inspiration. One day, we were testing it. I took the front position at the head and she stood behind me. I might have switched it into reverse mode. Surprised at the result of my unknowing button selection, I jumped off. And, as the laws of physics would command, she proceeded to fall. The treadmill kept treading, tossed her across the machine, and spit her whole body onto the wall. We weren’t allowed to run on it for a very long time.


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