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But that day, Father's leaving had left me so sad that I buried myself in the pile of rags and cried. After a few minutes of self-comfort, I settled down and began scrubbing my "Swiss cheese" clothes. She cleared the dinner table herself, putting the food down the garbage disposal. Mother had another favorite game for me while Father was away.
One day, he knelt down to tell me how sorry he was. Father's once rigid shoulders were now slumped over. Before he left that day, I threw my arms around his waist. After finishing my chores that day, I rushed downstairs. I wished I could somehow manage to escape the place I now called the "Madhouse."During one period of time when Father was away, Mother starved me for about ten consecutive days.
I had been ordered to wash my ragged clothes and another heap of smelly rags. No matter how hard I tried to meet her time limits, I couldn't make it. Mother was completely thorough in making sure I was unable to steal any food. " I couldn't understand why she treated me the way she did. I knew she wanted me to cave in, but I stood fast and held back the tears.
The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare.
He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alivedreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.
He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it."Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy.
When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat.I didn't dare turn on the water in the sink for fear of Mother hearing it. To my surprise there wasn't any bucket or bottles in the bathroom. As the tub began to fill with cold water, Mother tore off my clothes and ordered me to get into the tub. As I laid stretched out in the tub, the water became unbearably cold. I was too frightened of Mother to move, so I kept my head under the surface as ordered. I didn't dare touch any part of my body to try to warm it.Breathing through the cloth, I watched the mist inch its way closer and closer to the floor. Then I thought about the small heating vent on the floor by my feet. I put my face next to the vent and sucked in all the air my lungs would hold. She yelled from the garage for me to follow her upstairs. I did raise my head out of the water, far enough to hear better.In spite of all that had happened, I still felt Father was my protector. Hearing the old name that Father used when I was a little boy always brought a smile to my face. I told him that I would be good and that I wouldn't steal food anymore.When he was home, Mother only did about half the things to me that she did when he was gone. I told Father I would try harder and do a better job on my chores.By the sixth day I was so weak when I woke up on my army cot, I could hardly get up. Then she asked me how I felt, and laughed when I begged for food. In the corner of the bathroom I dropped to my hands and knees and stared at the bucket. As I breathed in the fumes, I collapsed and began spitting up. I was frantic about not being able to meet Mother"s time limits for cleaning the bathroom.At the end of the sixth day, and those that followed, I hoped with all my heart that Mother would feed me something, anything. One evening, towards the end of her "game," after I had finished my chores, Mother slammed a plate of food in front of me. After a few more minutes, I thought I would cough up my insides.He made excuses to the family, but I didn't believe him. I usually shook my head in a negative gesture."Don't worry," he'd say.I often shivered with fear as I sat in the garage, hoping for some reason he might not leave. "Some day you and I will both get out of this madhouse."I knew father hated living at home and I felt that it was all my fault.After awhile, Father didn't even stay home on his days off. After seeing my brothers, he would find me wherever I was doing my chores and say a few sentences, then leave.It took Father no more than 10 minutes to get in and out of the house, and be on his way back to his solitude, which he usually found in a bar.