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This story was inspired by an opinion piece about Jorelys Rivera, a seven-year-old girl who will not open gifts this Christmas. If you cannot stomach graphic truth, do not read it, you have been warned.
It was December 25, 1968. A god lived in our old house, a god who didn’t allow his subjects to come from their rooms until he emerged from his. Christmas Day was no exception. He didn’t emerge until after lunch. Four innocent souls stood in doorways trying to get a peek at the tree or the little bundles of heaven wrapped in colored paper and bows.
The day moved on, the egg shells placed carefully to catch unsuspecting little feet were scattered with loving care. Their crunching sounds were barely audible, but screamed in our universe. Step on a crack, break your mothers back, step on a shell go directly to $%^&.
A mistake was made, by whom, unimportant. The face of our god flushed red, gone was the Christmas god. The remnant of presents were scattered throughout the room, the remnants of breakfast was still on the table, the remnants of a fire smoldering in its place and the remnants of sanity swirled, rose and vanished into the air.
It happened quickly, it always did. I turned to see the fist of our god, it had risen and was destined to fall. The first punch took my breath even as I tried to avoid it, a sin in itself. The second busted my lip, the taste of blood its little gift. I knew the taste of blood well. The third to the stomach bent me forward allowing the tooth, already roaming around loose in my mouth to be projected onto the floor at my feet. I concentrated on that unruly tooth as a series of punches came too quick to comprehend and seemingly from all directions at once. The tooth held some importance I could not discern.
My mind raced and screamed into the universe, why, what did I do?
My next gift a broken rib and the sound of my nose exploding. My heart and lungs fought for every moment, but my legs gave up early and I spread across the floor like snow melting in a cozy room. I grasped at consciousness, it being all I had.
Now the time of our god’s foot had arrived: it kicked, something broke, it kicked, something tore, it kicked and reality shattered then scattered across the floor before my eyes. I could feel death breathing on me as my hair was grasped firmly. My heart pounded in my head or maybe it was my head being pounded on the brick hearth in front of the fireplace.
Sickeningly, my mind counted the times it rose and fell on the bricks, one, two, ten and twelve, it counted down the seconds of my life. I saw the fire with such clarity, a message from the real God I couldn’t comprehend, perhaps? Somewhere in it all this, the words, I’ll you kill you little son of a so and so, the last words I’d ever hear, wormed their way in. The fear, the pain and the sick, slimy, sticky, warm taste of blood were the memories that came with them. In the end death has a warm, welcoming embrace.
I awakened to find I was mistaken. What do you do the day after you die? What do you do the rest of your life? No police were called, no hospital was visited and no one explained how a dead child is supposed to act. Some things must be figured out by an eight-year-old, by himself. It only took a couple week of being buried in my room, out of sight of the world, for me to walk this earth again.
Sometimes I am told before, during and after I speak, to GET OVER IT. I have.
I speak because dead children cannot. I speak for children like Jorelys who die at the hands of a monster in a nightmare reality. I speak for the five children in America, each day, average age three, who are cowering in corners as someone they know love and trust beats them into the silence of death.
I speak because I died several times and God allowed me to come back. He DEMANDS I speak. I speak for the five children who will die each of the twelve days of Christmas.
We will always know who Jorelys was, but everyday five who live will slip into their own Silent Night and no one will know their names.