When Forgetting Began
The pajamas she wore had flowers, or maybe she made that up, but they were blue.
Was it only once? Roseanne's forgotten. She never told. She got sick.
"I can't move my legs," she told her mother. She wondered, could she move them if she tried? She didn't try. She lay in bed paralyzed, like the boy in her class with Polio. They said he was in an iron lung.
Her parents were afraid. Infantile Paralysis. They called Doctor Margolis. He made a house call. She remembered his pinched face, like he was thinking hard. His eyebrows arched over his glasses and he peered over her head, saying "There doesn't appear to be anything wrong."
Roseanne thought: I will get better. And she did. No one asked her why she couldn't move her legs and then she could.
Anyway she thinks the nighttime visits stopped, but she's forgotten. The pajamas she had on when she was sick were the same ones she wore when he slipped in beside her and rubbed against her with something hard. It poked and hurt her, rubbing, rubbing against her. Then her pajama leg was wet and squishy with slime. She wanted to cry out, but thought she had better not. She had been quiet, unmoving. When he got out of bed she lay there. Then she had closed her eyes and finally slept.
She had wanted to tell her mother. She even had the words in her head: She would point to her pajamas. "Mommy, what is this?" She didn't know what to call it.
She had sat on the bed, dangling her legs.
"Get up, Roseanne," Her mother poked her head into the room. "Breakfast's on the table."
She turned, "Mommy," on her lips. But her mother was gone.
She dressed slowly, scrunching the pajama bottoms into a ball and stuffing them into the hamper.
"Hurry up," her mother said, slipping a bowl of Rice Krispies in front of her.
"Mommy," she whispered. Or did she? Her mother was clanging dishes in the kitchen.
"Come on Sam," her mother yelled again. "You'll be late." Then, "You're not eating, Roseanne. Eat."
"What is it?" The tone was sharp.
"I want to ask you something."
"Ask. But speak up." The pots clanked. "Sam," she yelled again.
Roseanne swallowed. "I messed my bed up."
"Oh, there you are," Mommy said to Sam. "Sit down. I'll get you breakfast."
Roseanne did not look.
"What were you saying, Roseanne?" her mother asked.
She forgot so many things. Like why he slammed the bathroom door and caught her finger in the hinge. She lost her nail. Or why he slammed her back with a tennis racquet; did she really faint or just pretend? She's forgotten. The times he pretended to tear her homework, or hid her doll. And she would scream and their mother would come in and holler at him. It seems she loved him anyway, although she's forgotten why.
About the author:
Florence Kraut lives and writes in Rye, New York. Her stories have appeared in The Rambler, Writer Advice, Boston Literary Magazine, Westchester Literary Review and Peeks and Valleys Literary Magazine. In an earlier life she wrote for confession magazines and published Op Ed essays in the NY Times and other Westchester newspapers. She is a social worker and former CEO of a social service agency.