I originally thought his story took place when I was around 7, but my mother says she was pregnant with my sister so I was probably actually three…
One of my siblings had a microscope lens. It was very small and thin. About the size of two dimes stacked together.
For reasons I don’t recall, we were all putting it in our mouths. This was indeed just a random piece of glass. After pulling it from one of our mouths (I’m betting an older sister) my mother placed it high up on a built in bookshelf in our living room.
She did this in plain view of all of us. In retrospect, that was a mistake. One she should have known better after having 8 children.
Knowing it was up there became an obsession for me. I needed to put that piece of glass in my mouth in a way that I can’t even describe to you. Hell, I couldn’t even explain it to myself at the time. It was like the beating of the tell tale heart, mocking me. It’s very existence was torture.
Finally, my tiny mind was driven insane and I devised a rudimentary structure to assist me in my goal. My sheer desire for that microscope lens had transformed me into some sort of architectural wizard.
I climbed to the top with trepidation. The life’s dreams of my short life were about to be realized. I would have that piece of glass in my mouth once and for all. At first, it was pure joy. My thirst was slaked. My desires were fulfilled.
But, like most obsessions, I soon realized it wasn’t enough. My craving was not satisfied by that first glorious moment of triumph. I needed more.
I began sneaking into the living room and piling things up over and over again to get to it. I knew I couldn’t risk taking it. Someone might notice and I’d be found out. I was like a crackhead, going to extreme lengths to hide my addiction from my family.
Every free chance I got, I was sucking on that piece of glass. I felt anxious all the time, wondering when my next fix was going to come. Some days, I didn’t get the opportunity and I lie awake in bed at night, thinking about it. Jonesing for it.
I think my mother and siblings had mostly forgotten about it. They didn’t glance at the shelf every time they walked past it the way I did. They didn’t seem to be having any trouble sleeping or concentrating at school. I couldn’t fathom their lack of interest. This piece of glass had consumed my every waking moment.
One day, I went too far. I had probably missed my fix the day before and it had made me desperate and careless.
My mother walked into the living room while I was sitting on the couch, getting my fix. In my panic at being caught, I accidentally swallowed the lens.
It couldn’t have been more than a day or two later when my mom glanced up to that shelf and noticed the microscope lens was gone. She demanded to know where it was.
My other siblings convincingly told her they had no idea. But then, they’d always been convincing liars. The best thing about having 7 siblings was the anonymity of bad behavior. Without a witness it could have been any one of us. And my denial somehow blended in with the others. Despite my lack of skill at lying and my obvious (at least to me) guilt.
“That’s fine.” My mother said. “You don’t want to tell me where it is. Fine. But one of you is going to put it in your mouth. And you are going to accidentally swallow it. And that piece of glass is going to cut up your insides and you are going to die a horrible and bloody death.”
I still remember the exact words of her death sentence after all these years.
I immediately burst into panicked, uncontrollable tears. I was going to die! A horrible painful death. I was inconsolable and certain of my impending demise.
I can only imagine how much my mother regretted saying those words at that moment. I had always been a bit emotionally fragile. None of us were sure if I was going to recover from this one.
My mom wound up driving me to the emergency room for a stomach x-ray. I sat there waiting in a shell shocked silence. I had cried every bit of tears that my poor doomed body was capable of producing. Now, I had resigned myself to waiting for the inevitable end.
After many hours of in the waiting area we were finally told by the x-ray tech that nothing could be seen as it was clear glass and that I would probably pass it through my system with no issues.
Sometimes, I like to imagine that I didn’t pass it, though. I like to think it is still somewhere inside me. Always with me. Forever.