David's screams grew more shrill with each desperate gasp, until he almost saw his voice crack as it echoed from the yellowed kitchen walls. There, in her chair, mommy slumped, her body bent over bottles and glasses, tossed like so many ships in a storm.
David, drenched in fears and tears, couldn't rouse mommy with the tiny tugs from his three year old frame. Famished and awake for hours, he frantically searched for someone to feed him
Taking some cake left from the night before, he crouched by her, taking comfort only from the sweetness on his fingers. And using the underside of the table as shelter, he kept his vigil, quietly shivering in the shadows.
David could always find constancy and comfort in food, with the kitchen providing a shining open sesame to all the hunger inside him. Mommy might be drunk and daddy might hit her, but David could always count on the tranquilizing presence of soft, sugary food dissolving in his belly, replacing his emptiness with peace.
But as David grew his weight bulged, causing boys to ridicule his inability to run in time to their play. So David withdrew, watching them longingly, and remembered the schoolyard's rule of never letting the guys see you cry.
And as a teenager, David could only dream of a girl gazing adoringly into his eyes. Each day, he would watch kids become couples and discover the rapture of bodies with the wonder of newly entwined hearts.
But David knew his place, and wouldn't risk the humiliation of "his friends" reminding him that love existed only for the clear skinned and well sculpted. So David sat in the darkness until he found a beckoning light: a shining computer screen with magical worlds to conquer and an endless stream of princesses waiting for a knight.
So in a corner of his bedroom, David embarked on his quest, with each day fading in a blur of junk food, fantasy and floppy disks. And when his school days ended, his misery and loneliness faded like a blip on a darkening screen.
But as the years passed, David's self hatred grew in proportion to his frantic attempts to bring his body within bounds. Crash diets, quick weight loss schemes, David tried them all only to regain all he had lost and more. And with every defeat, his spirits rose and fell, until finally he felt like a grounded yo-yo with no life left in its string.
And no one knew his despair. A computer analyst, David sat alone in his cubicle, devoid of noise and interruption. Invisible, he would flick on his monitor to share messages with co-workers, who seemed like characters of a video game who died at the end of each workday.
Then he would leave late, painfully shifting his body down the darkened corridor, squeezing through the doors of the car that would carry him home. And in his dimly lit apartment of unwashed dishes, fast food wrappers, cokes, tv, and computer disks, David would sink into his overstuffed chair, weary, unwashed, and alone
And when David tired of the silence, he would power his computer, and send messages to a cadre of electronic strangers. Then he would chat, waiting for the darkness to fade into sleep.
But one night, with nothing left to lose, David opened his soul to one of the blips. And after crying himself to sleep, he woke with the phone piercing the silence. Shining through the night, the words rang out, "Call me back.....I care!"
Then, David cried again, but this time in the company of a friend.
Copyright Fred Levy, LCSW all rights reserved