I couldn't have been more than six or seven and Coke still came in little glass bottles and our basement had a cement floor and camel crickets in the dark, damp corners. The washer and the dryer were down there and I was helping Mom do laundry. I'd brought all the clothes downstairs and she and I had sorted them and stacked the loads of laundry in big plastic baskets. The cats were all over the place. We laughed at the kittens nosing through the dirty socks and soiled towels. Mom said I did a good job, and she gave me a Coke from the little fridge Dad kept downstairs full of Miller beer and Coca-Cola.
I ran toward the stairs to go back to my room and the bottle slipped from my grasp and then there was a crash and a fizzy dark stain was spreading across the cement floor and I thought maybe camel crickets like Coke and they'll all come running hopping hurrying toward this unexpected treat so I kneeled down to start cleaning up and damn near took my kneecap off with a curving shard of Coke bottle.
I don't remember it hurting. I remember little red dots appearing on a newly pink section of knee. I remember kneeling in fascination, watching the dots well up and run together and then it was just a big bloody hurt and do camel crickets have a taste for human blood? Mom must have heard me scream, then, because she was there and a towel still warm with the snuffles of Siamese kittens was wrapped over my wound and I was borne upstairs wailing to the iodine and hydrogen peroxide and I learned to always look before you kneel in broken glass, if you are small, and wearing shorts, and you are afraid the crickets will get you.
I'm forty now, and I still have a small scar on my right knee. It's about an inch long and shaped like an upside-down teardrop. We moved out of that house when I was fourteen, and I took a Polaroid picture of a bloodstain on the concrete floor of the basement. On the bottom of it I wrote, "I HATE CRICKETS."
On Italicizing Words.
10 hours ago