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“What’s your earliest memory?”

White statues, a smooth and silky surface, his grandmother’s pride, and joy. As cold as snow beneath his touch. A blur as they somersault into the air, propelled by small and skinny fingers.


The crash, a signature to his death warrant, as the statue goes errant, misses his cupped hands and shatters against the floor. His father Joseph looms in the doorway, a snarl twisting his lips, eyes a flame with anger.

He flicked his gaze from the floor to the therapist seated before him, the rest of the group seated in a haphazard semi-circle, waiting for an answer.

A fist against his spine, pummelling at his back and buttocks as he screams, pain a fire as it burns his small body. He twists and fights, slips free from the vice like grip and runs.

“Would you like to share your earliest memory with the group?”

Seeks refuge beneath the three-tiered bunk bed he shares with his brothers, grasping at the springs, right at the back, squashed against the wall in the smallest space. The safest space where Joseph can’t reach, where his grasping hands can’t hurt.

Blinking, as if trying to dislodge the memory from view, he ran his tongue across his lips nervously. He cleared his throat self-consciously and tried to stop his fingers from skittishly tapping out an anxious melody against his thigh as he became trapped beneath the spotlight of the group’s invasive stare.

Darkness stretches out around him, breathing laboured and thick with distress, he soothes himself with a melody, one his mother sings. “You are my sunshine” sobbed from beneath the bed, until the monster retreats, grows tired of waiting and leaves his 3-year-old son to seek comfort in the music.

“Singin’” whispered Michael softly, “Just singin’.”

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