Jumping out of my parents' magenta Plymouth onto the Peruvian rocky dirt
road, I am confounded by an intimidating concrete white building. These ten year-
old porcelain legs wobble on the street, dry knees knocking together like splintered
cracking wood in a worn down fence. My feeble bones do not understand why my
Mom, Dad, and a tall stranger in a white laboratory coat approach me like the
offense of a football team eager to attack. They chase and grab at me threatening to
save me while I kick up a cloud of suffocating dust. Save me? Confused by their
tackle, I thrash my knobby protruding bones about like a wild savage about to be
captured. My hair whips around and I spit at their eyes to prevent the arrest. As it
becomes more apparent that they are winning, I let out rougher cries, louder yells,
and more violent flinging tears. Nearly defeated, my body is carried towards the
dark corridor of the institutions entrance. A plump brown nurse swarms towards
me with a large pointy needle. The back of my throat plugs up like a bathtub drain.
Swallowing saliva and air I shriek, "NO! NO! NO!" as the adults restrain me to the
chilly floor. My eyes are washed out and glazed by a mirage that makes my body feel
limp and uncomfortably weak. The enemies fade away and I sleep.
The frail glass bones of my emaciated body weigh me down to the anise scented
white starchy sheets of a strange hard bed. Eyelids pressing against my dark brown
eyes, I can only make out dizzying multicolor dots in a black haze. Loud steady
beeps, rings, and Spanish voices slur and reverberate in the icy damp air. My eyes
struggle to pry open my heavy shutters which only yield a half-shut compromise.
The empty room filters in light which floats through a window I cannot see. I lie
stuck and clueless like a sedated monkey, staring at the clumpy stiff peaks of the
mashed potato ceiling. After desperate attempts to look down and sideways, I
realize that my vision is limited to a stubborn frozen gaze upward. My body is
An enraged frustration surges from the bottom of my bloated stomach to the top
of my throat like a cork shooting out of a cold, dry, shaken bottle of champagne. A
wet stream gushes down my stretched skinny face. am relieved to feel a thousand
needles prick my fingertips awake. I move them while they tingle. As I try to blow
air out of my nose, I notice that my right nostril is plugged. Struggling to shift the
brick-like weight of my right arm so I can see it, I become aware that it is stiff.
There is a wooden board holding my bony arm straight for a thin needle that penetrates
the center of the dip in my gaunt arm's vein. Pulling my body up, I turn my head.
My neck feels like a rusty faucet. Tilting my head down to see, I can barely catch a
glimpse of two steel poles to the right of the bed. At the top of one is a glass bottle
containing clear liquid which drips towards my arm. On the other hangs a plastic
bag filled with creamy orange brown mush, seeping in a tube towards my nose.
An acidic burn races up my arm, pulsing like the crack of a whip. The shooting
pain races towards my skeletal shoulder and fingertips, making my arm feel as if it is
going to fall to the floor. Choking on saline tears and the cold dangling tube at the
back of my nose, I let out a choppy scream.
This is my first encounter with the empty white walls of a hospital.
I stare helplessly at the top of the I.V. and feeding tube, anxiety welling inside
my body as I wait for anyone to come into my desolate hospital room. The washed
out red pulpy liquid nourishes my bones, filling my gut with accumulating fury.
The sugary liquid hanging on the other pole rushes towards my arm, hydrating my
skin while injecting an escalating angst into my pulsing veins. They meet and swell
into an intense panic which swards like a rocket in the rapids of my red blood. The
feverish storm splatters in the air at the release of my incessant screams.
After ten minutes, someone's squeaky plastic shoes press against the floor and I
imagine they belong to a nurse with thick cocoa-colored ankles. She keeps her
distance, voice projecting from near the door, "What's wrong?"
I sob, droning out a long stretched whine while attempting to turn all
the muscles in my face downward like melted plastic. Hoping she can mollify my terror
and show empathy for my pathetic skeletal condition, I cry, " I can't see! What did
you do to me? Please take these things out of my body! I want my parents!"
"I can't," her stone cold voice echoes firmly.
"My arm is burning! It hurts..."
I listen to her lopsided steps as they walk away and shut the door behind her.
I shriek as loud as I can, until it feels as if a hanger is scratching at the walls of
my lungs. I cry, desperately alone in the quiet room. No on can understand my
somber state. I wish somebody could show compassion for my white eyes-covering
my view so that only a quarter moon of brown is showing. I whimper like a small
puppy to catch my strength. Sucking in all my air like an empty balloon, I gather my
rage and let out another clamorous bawl.
I hear the door open and a breeze whisks across my skin, brushing my armhairs
erect as fast as dominoes. The nurse walks in briskly and places a soft hot cushion
on my arm. It blends in with the electric current scalding pain and soothes my arm.
"This is to alleviate the potassium burn."
As she leaves, my parents and brother walk in, heels and sneakers click clocking
and screeching on the floor. They stand over my bed faces drained of emotion. My
petit dark mother leans on my father's shoulder, turning her face with a
melancholy disposition. I can hear her crying. My father and nine year-old brother
peer at me with looks of disgust and concern. Their eyes droop and the corners of
their pink lips turn downward. The door opens again and their glances shift
towards a tall black haired man in khaki pants. ":What's wrong with her?" my
father asks in an upset tone.
"We don't exactly know," the Peruvian doctor glances at me hopelessly.
Their sobering presence drowns my thirst for compassion. The mournful
expressions make me feel embarrassed and shameful about my failure to eat
enough. I do not have the energy to express my disgrace so I weep quietly and
murmur what first comes to mind, "Tell him to take these out!...How could you let
them do this to me?"
The doctor towers over my bed. "So you do not eat...Why?"
"I don't get hungry," my head shifts away from the crowd.
"Well Eleanora you do not have to be hungry to eat. You require food just like a
plant needs water. Do you understand?" His dark eyes try looking into mine.
My family doctor has given me the same speech. I nod my head. "Please take
these out...I'll etc." I plead to him. Moving my left arm at the pace of an antique
robot, I reach for a paper he hands me.
"Do you agree to eat all the things on this list?"
Barely glancing at the words on the sheet of typed paper, I eagerly agree, hoping
to be free from the restraints of tubes and needles. "I do...".
The nurse walks in wheeling a rickety rackety tin tray. My audience watches
anxiously as she presses an alcohol saturated ball of cotton on my arm and yanks out
the needle. She tapes a piece of scratchy soft gauze over the yellow purple stain on
my skin. The doctor stands militantly while my family's noses wrinkle and their
eyebrows slant downwards making their eyes squint. Looking at the top of the
nurse's brown forehead, I feel a steady pull of cold plastic come up from my stomach,
slime by my throat, and slide out of my nose as I choke for air. The vomit covered
tube hangs above my face like a snake. She hands me a glass of water which
I accept only because the doctor and my family are watching.
As I rise from the bed like a gray haired old man, my relatives eagerly rush
to me like broken crutches anticipating to help. They carry me as far as the back seat
leather cushions of the Plymouth.
My eyes start to roll back to their natural position and I delight in looking at
Lima's downtown buildings as they whisk by. I move my eyes up, down, right and
left. Although I can feel the drug fading, my body is still overpowered by weakness.
It seems so hard to move my bones out of the car when we arrive to my
My parents help me to a chair at my Grandmother's dinner table where I am
swarmed by the welcoming eyes of a barrage of familiar and unknown Peruvian
relatives. A disquieting rumble pervades my body and my palms bleed damp with
sweat. I sense a beaming spotlight on my chair as I pick up a fork and hold it over
the stomach cringing mountain of purple buttered potatoes, bright green string
beans, and tan colored mash of sauce-coated chicken on my Frisbee sized plate.
Beneath warm Spanish family conversation I sense hindred stares and concerned
pauses which examine my eating.
Teeth clinging to the metallic fork, I force bird-size bites down my throat and
hope that the occasional glances catch monstrous gobbles. I strain to crack my dry
lips open and form a smile, relieved by the pleased expressions I receive. As I scoop
up another forkful of chicken, I swallow the knifelike stares. They gash across my
throat and plummet into the overstuffed pit of my infected stomach. I am home.
Silencing a Nightmare
"You cannot make me eat!"
"SPLAT!"...A brown red gob of hot spaghetti sauce splatters across the white
cupboards and baby blue tiles of my Mother's squeaky clean kitchen. I stare at the
mess, my small fourth grade hands convulsing and body pounding with hot energy
currents. The shiny silver port bounces off the stove and clatters on the floor,
spilling out puddles of the remaining sauce. My Peruvian mother's eyes protrude
out like and I clench my dress, waiting for a clamorous horror movie scream, "E-L-
E-A-N-O-R!!! AAAAGHEEEE!! What is your problem??? AAGHEEEE..." Tears
gush down her face and she paces towards me with a wooden spoon. I scream and
spit tears at the aftermath of my frenzied tantrum. Ground beef and carrot chunks
drip from the drawer handles and slime down the wall. Rage strangles my chest
like the suction of octopus tentacles on tender shrimp. It entangles me so I discard
any shame at having ruined my Mother's day-long cooked dinner...She deserves
it...and there is no way I will clean it up. "CLEAN IT UP...NOW!" she holds the
spoon up, stampeding about the kitchen bawling [sic] and roaring like a wounded
lion. "CLEAN IT UP!...You are going to clean this up! I am going to kill you. Why
do you do this to me...WHY? I work so hard...What did I do to deserve this? She
wails," You are going to clean this up right now Eleanor! CLEAN!"
Her frantic glare and suspended wooden spoon attempt to menace my frantic,
quaking body, "NO."
She rushes closer to me and I step back, "WHAT DID YOU SAY? What?"
"NO! I WON'T CLEAN IT UP!"
"NO?" She darts at me and lashes at my pointy shoulder with the long spoon.
The veins in my fists pound and my throat clogs up. My fist swats her side,
hitting her hard leather belt, "You can't just hit me Mom...and not expect me to hit
he swarms towards me and my fists start to punch at her bare arms like sticks
on a drum, "You do not hit your Mother!" She whips at my shoulders with the
spoon, pushing me as I kick at her shins to get her way. Tears screen my eyes as we
grab each others' hair and she shrieks, "Get away! STOP IT! STOP!," continuing to
scratch at my face and swarm about my body. I close my eyes and fling my arms and
legs about like a dying flounder, hoping to drive her away.
"YOU stop! You are the worst Mother ever! Look at you...hitting your
daughter...YOU stop it! Why are you doing this?" I choke on my saliva and gasp,
"All you care about is your damn spaghetti sauce! Look at me! I am sick...and all
you can think about is your fucking spaghetti sauce! I HATE YOU... I HATE YOU!"
She stands back and stares at me like I am a wild savage, fixing her dry ratted
hair, "Look at you! Look what you are doing to me!" She wipes her tears with a
tight quivering fist, "You are crazy! Sick in the head!" She jabs her pointer finger in
her skull repeatedly, "CRAZY!"
The more she stares at me like I am crazy, the more insane I feel. Anguish fills
my body. I feel like a frenzied ape. Why won't she leave me alone? If she leaves
the room I'll be mad because that means she doesn't care and if she doesn't go away
I'll be frustrated at her reaction. My mother is so weak. Why can't she be strong?
Why doesn't she know how to help me? I don't want her help. It makes me mad
that she thinks I am a lunatic.
My neck veins pulse hard against my flushed skin and I pop my eyes out like a
maniac, "I am crazy! Sooo...crazy...LOOK!" I scurry over to a sauce drenched drawer
and grab a huge knife, "See how crazy I am? I am so crazy I think I will kill myself!
Is that what you want? Do you want me to kill myself and end everyone's misery?
How about that? Wouldn't that be nice?.. to have me gone?" I hold the knife to my
wrist. I don't want to cut myself. I want her to take the knife away from me and
make me stop. I can't stop.
My Mother holds the spoon to her side and tears jerk down to her blouse,
"STEVE!...STEVE CALL DONNA! CALL DONNA RIGHT NOW...POR FAVOR!"
She sets the spoon on the counter and looks at me, "You are insane, Eleanor. this is
Wrong answer. She is so weak. Why can't she just deal with me herself? She
is always running away. I hate it. She doesn't care.
"DO NOT CALL DONNA. If you call Donna, I swear I will kill myself right
now." Hands shaking feverishly, I cut a slice that burns like a line of bee
stings...enough to taint my wrist red. I wish I didn't have to do this.
My Mother walks out of the kitchen.
Why is she leaving? No. That's so mean...Leaving me here to cut my wrist. I
chase after her scurried steps to the living room carving jagged slits across my wrist,
"I am killling myself. Look Mom!" My brother turns his head away, pretending to
be infatuated with his soccer ball while his friend Heath and my friend Mercedes
stare, horrified. I hear Heath mutter, "Is your sister crazy?"
Ignoring their stares, I focus on my mother, who clamps her ears with her hands
as she stumbles to her room, "Steve, please help me, I cannot handle her."
What's my Dad going to do? Like has the Godly command to make me stop.
She's my Mother. Mothers are supposed to help. She does nothing, "You are such a
good Mother...you care so much. The only thing that would concern you if I died
right now is whether or not I stained the carpet with my blood! I hate you! Why
did you have to have me?!" Some teardrops fall by my hand, stinging the gashes on
My father marches out of their room and stands in the doorway, "STOP THIS
NONSENSE RIGHT NOW! STOP IT!" His face beats red and his nostrils flare. A
violent fury seeps from his words, "What's wrong with you? You are acting crazy!
You look inhuman! like a savage...a freak!" He motions at me with his hands like
he is sweeping trash, "You are sick in the head...DEMENTED.." He paces towards
I'm ashamed. He scares me with his loud voice. I can't look frightened. He
can't know that he affects me. "Don't come any closer! I'll kill you...I'll cut
my wrist off! I swear to God!" I carefully slash another crooked slice. The main door
opens and my Mother's plump friend Donna tramples in.
Now I am forced to keep cutting myself. Why didn't they take me seriously
when I told them I would kill myself if they called her? They don't care. Nobody
cares about me.
I shriek and start to cut at my wrist wrathfully. My Dad rushes towards me with
Donna and I run towards the bathroom bawling, "I told you if I called her I would
kill myself! Why did you call her?" I spit at their eyes as they zoom closer, clawing
with my fingers. Don't you know that the more you do this, the angrier I get? Why
can't you understand that? This time I'll show them that they can't do this to me
nymore. I'll kick and fight until they go away.
They grab my arms as I kick and scratch at their necks. The knife falls to the
floor spotting the carpet with blood. I nudge at their chests and they carry me over
to the living room where Donna hands my Mother a key. She rushes over to a
dresser and unlocks a drawer filled with cotton, alcohol, multicolored pills, packets
of clear liquid, and syringes. I kick and writhe, trying to twist my way out of their
grip, "NO! Please...no..." Every time you drug me up, I wake up angrier than before.
I don't want to be mad all the time! Please!
My Mother trades places with Donna and she fills a syringe with clear liquid,
trying to rub alcohol on my arm while I cry. I thrash at them, trying to break free but
they tape me to the carpet. My mom and Dad tack me to the floor while Donna
successfully pierces the long needle in my pincushion arm.
I won't fall asleep. I'll show them...they'll see...I can't kick or hit...why? Heath,
Stevie, and Mercedes fade like mirages...
Everyone sighs as my head slumps to the carpet.