i threw it on the ground and burst into tears because i hated it and i didn’t want it in my hands anymore. it cracked and smashed and shattered and i cut my bare feet on it when i stormed out of the room looking for the kleenex box and the blood left a trail on the hardwood floor all the way to the bathroom.
“what’s wrong?” mom shouted and i ignored her because i hated her when she shouted and i needed kleenex and my feet hurt.
i bled on the bathroom tile and on the bath mat and on the towel i dropped on the ground so i could bleed on something other than the floor and i blew my nose into kleenex and cried until mom stomped in and saw the blood and the tears and all the kleenex i’d dropped on the floor.
“what the hell is going on?” she shouted at my face and i ignored her again because i hated when people shouted at me like i wasn’t five feet away. i blew my nose and dropped another kleenex on the ground, so she shouted the same question like i cared if she repeated herself.
she followed the blood trail back to my bedroom and i guess she saw the broken pieces of the thing because she started screaming about how she didn’t know what was wrong with me and what the hell had i just broken and why had i broken it. on and on, so i bled my way from the bathroom to the kitchen so i could finish wiping tears and snot off my face because pretty soon i’d have to talk to her and i hate talking and crying at the same time. my feet hurt so i sat at the kitchen table on a chair covered with little heart and star stickers i’d made and stuck on everything i could find before mom yelled and took them away.
when mom came into the kitchen she didn’t look angry anymore because maybe she realized that if i was bleeding things weren’t okay and so she sat across from me and put her hands on the table and took a deep breath like the teachers at school did when they got impatient.
“want to tell me what’s going on?” she asked in a fake calm voice. when she got fake calm it sounded like if you put a pillow over a really loud speaker you can tell all that noise wants to get out and it’ll find a way eventually.
“birthday gift,” i mumbled.
“a birthday gift?” she was confused because my birthday was six months ago.
“oh,” she said and then got actual quiet instead of fake calm quiet because she understood. “what did he send?”
it didn’t matter what he sent. he sent a gift every year and every year i cried and threw myself on the bed and screamed into a pillow until my voice gave out and the pillow was clammy with my tears. the only reason mom knew something was wrong this year was because the gift was glass and it was heavy and when it hit the floor it shattered and the pieces were sharp and cut me when i walked on them. if he’d sent me another stuffed animal, mom would have heard the tears and ignored me like she always ignored me and there wouldn’t have been any blood trails for her to follow.
when i didn’t answer, mom said, “i told him to stop sending you gifts.”
when i still didn’t answer she said, “i’ll call him,” and walked into the living room to find the phone.
i picked glass out of my feet and dropped the pieces onto the floor and listened to my mom shout at my dad like it would help but it never helped because he liked the calls and he liked the shouting and he wanted to know that i got his gifts. he didn’t care if i liked them and when i heard my mom tell him my feet were bleeding i wanted to smash the phone just like his stupid gift because he’d be happy to hear about my bloody feet. he wanted my screams and my tears and even the bleeding because he couldn’t have us back and he liked to pretend he was still here. i hated him and i’d never stop hating him and i wished mom hated him enough to never call him again.
mom shouted and i picked out glass and i hoped i’d have a car one day and when i did i’d keep the gift long enough to drive it back to his house and break it over something that deserved it and listen to someone else cry for a change.