A five-year-old girl stands alone in a room. There’s silence; no one is watching her but me. She climbs atop a bar stool that towers over her head. There’s no one to halt her curiosity or tell her to get down. She knows better, but she’s reckless. With her arms stiff at her sides, she clenches the underside of the high stool, securing her body as she sits perched on top. Her feet are locked in, pushing against the wooden bar beneath and as she throws her body forward; the stool begins to rock back and forth. In a wave-like motion, she leans back as the stool tips forward, riding the chair like a rocking horse. Slowly she picks up pace, tilting forward and back, until the feet of the stool are only touching the ground two at a time. She rocks faster and faster, her eyes locked on the blank TV sitting directly ahead as it rhythmically gets closer then farther away.
Suddenly, her mother returns to the room and her trance is broken. I watch as she is thrown from the stool, flying forward into the lifeless television, like a cowboy bucked from a bronco. The stool topples to the ground with a loud crash and as her forehead hits the screen, both the girl and the television join the stool on the floor. She lays delirious and gushing blood as the mother shrieks in terror and the girl’s sister is told to get towels, blankets, anything to keep the blood in. The little girl won’t remember much of the ordeal from this point but I can tell her what I saw.
Her limp body is swaddled in a colorful towel and her head in another, as if dressed in a sari and turban. She is carried out the door in chaos when a horrified neighbor offers to help. The small bundle is handed over to the neighbor, a plump Mexican woman smelling strongly of perfume and smoke, and the three pack into the family’s car. I manage to slip into the back seat, sitting next to the fat lady and the girl, watching the towels grow redder. The child’s eyes are closed all the way to the hospital; the car ride is tense and silent. We rush into the emergency room and the child is taken into a small dark room. She is laid on a table and a bright light shines down over her face. The family and I watch, grimacing, as the surgeon sows up the hole, stitching seven plastic threads through the girl’s right eyebrow.
The next morning I awake, thinking of the girl and remembering as I watched her fly from the bar stool and land in a pool of blood. I lay back on my pillow, distraught, and rub my tired eyes. I feel something odd above one eye and I pause – tracing my finger over a long, straight scar sticking through my eyebrow. The memories come rushing back and I realize I’ve had the dream again. A dream I’ve been having for thirteen years, yet I’m never the little girl.