“What happened?!” My mom rushed into the bedroom where I cracked my skull against the corner of the particle board dresser.
I remember the wet rag, but more than that, I remember the blood. I was seven.
I’ll bet my mom remembers it differently, though. When you’re poor, scars, cuts, and bruises are the default signs of abuse. Of parents guilty until proven innocent. Them.
When you’re not poor, a child with a cut is a child who hurt herself while playing supervised on the swings or jungle gym, surrounded by benches covered with floral-patterned tablecloths and parents. By fair-skinned women with highlights and sundresses; women waiting for their “Dumplings” to eat their neatly packed organic celery and soy beans.
“Come, come now, Hudson, dear! It’s time for your non-GMO edamame and deep-breathing exercises!”
By moms who name their kid “Hudson.”
“Because he was, um, conceived when we vacationed at that bed and breakfast in Croton,” she’d blush and giggle to her friends, over a brunch of mimosas, egg whites, and multigrain bread (“butter on the side, please”).
Parents innocent until proven guilty. Them.
“Look what I got!!” I proudly sported the stained, crisscrossed Band-Aids on my forehead for the next two weeks. My mom held her breath for that long. Guilty until proven innocent.
Christina Berchini is a university professor, author, and researcher. In order to escape that life, she writes a lot of fiction, which sometimes feels a little too non-fictiony if she thinks about it hard enough. She is also the creator of www.heycollegekid.com where she gives advice and tough love to college students. Whether or not they listen to her is another story altogether. Her creative work has been featured on www.success.com, the Huffington Post, and promoted on www.Blogher.com, as well as several news outlets.