Self-imposed Punishment
Ann Summerville

Scrubbing the bath tub had become a self imposed punishment for me. At eight years old there were few places I could hide from the wrath of my dad. I closed the toilet seat and sat as I thought of the morning events. The newspaper ripped as I retrieved it from Buster’s mouth and mom’s favorite vase had slipped from my hand. I had once showed frustration by breaking things and now any accident was viewed as a tantrum.

I grabbed a sponge and sprinkled abrasive cleaner vigorously into the sink. In time to the music I swirled the sponge imagining the Von Trapp family in their floral prints.

“The Hills are Alive. . .” I stopped singing and thought for a moment.

Would dad be upset or was the weekly scowl on my mother’s face her way of manipulating me into cleaning the bathroom. It was my own fault. Hiding was never easy for me. My arms and legs needed to be moving. I squeezed the sponge and glanced out the second floor window longing to climb the big oak tree. A slight tap on the door caught my attention.

“Honey.” My dad whispered. “Amanda. Come on out. Mom made apple pie.” I swished the last suds down the drain then opened the door. My dad hugged me to him. As smells of pie reached my nostrils I noticed the shredded newspaper in his hand. He smiled and whispered in my ear. “I hated that vase.”

First published: May, 2008
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