(Alternately titled “The Fourth, Part Two). Here is part one of this story.
After a year, Cameron is taken away. All of the new clothes my parents have bought him are packed away in the small suitcase he came with and he walks solemnly behind some woman out the front door of our house. His smile is gone, but it hasn’t been around as much lately, anyway. His head is down, looking at the orange shag carpet in the living room and he doesn’t turn around to say good-bye. I can’t say anything. I can’t breathe. I follow them onto the grey cement steps of our porch and hold on to the black iron rail so I won’t sit down hard.
I watch the door of the white van shut and the lady get in the front seat. The van sat in our driveway, engine chugging the entire time. Someone knew he would be packed already. Someone knew he would be ready to go when they got here. I can see Cameron’s one cloudy eye watching me. I can feel the thick ball in my throat as the van backs up into the street. I watch the smoke from the back of the van curl up past his window and make it hard to see him anymore. I can’t look. I have to close my eyes. I can’t go inside. I’m just standing here in the springtime sunshine feeling cold and little.
Finally someone tells me to come inside.
“Can I write him letters?” I ask my mother and my voice sounds high and whiny. She shakes her head and her eyes are full of tears.
I don’t understand. My big brother shrugs his shoulders to say he doesn’t know anything, either. My sister is too little to know anything. All I know is that Dad didn’t like Cameron very much and now he’s gone. Dad doesn’t like my little sister very much, either. And he is trying all the time to make my brother tougher. He was really pissed that Cameron could play soccer better than my brother could. Dad’s the coach and his own son ought to be the star player.
It takes a while but the cold ball in my throat finally settles in my stomach. I’d better be really good from now on.
This was the “scene” from my perspective as an eight-year old girl who knew that something was wrong. I knew that my parents were fighting a lot and things were not easy at home. Mom was unhappy and the kids were all walking on eggshells. This incident proved to me that it wouldn’t take much for our family to simply disintegrate. Indeed, it was shortly after this that my father moved out and they announced they were getting a divorce, although I don’t recall any of the specifics. Within six months, my father had accepted a job transfer in another state and I was even more certain that, one by one, we would all be picked off, our ties as family members dissolving as easily as the translucent rice paper wrapper on that Chinese candy we got at the store sometimes. From that moment on, I made it my mission to keep my brother and sister as close to me as possible and never do anything wrong. I didn’t want to be next.