Control; Punishment by Salt.


We had just eaten a big dinner one Sunday lunchtime and Sylvie opened up some cans of fruit, shared them out between the dishes, and went to the fridge to retrieve the evaporated milk can. Picking up the can she could tell by the weight of it that there was much less than there had been when she placed it in the fridge the day before. “Who’s f*****g well drank this?” she yelled and looked straight at me. I denied touching it but that familiar, dreaded feeling swelled up inside me, knowing that once again, I was going to get the blame.

It was a common occurrence, with so many people in the house, something was always going missing. A piece of cake taken or half a packet of biscuits gone, whatever it was, whoever had taken it, it was always my fault. Doubtless there were times when I had indulged, but no more than the others were guilty of.

I waited for the slap and the screaming but it didn’t come and we all sat and ate our dessert in silence. I was shaking inside and could hardly swallow, not daring to look up. This was worse than the usual repercussions but foolishly I started to think that maybe this time she had believed me, wasn’t going to punish me or thought that somebody else had helped themselves.

After dinner had finished and the washing and drying of pots was completed, I went outside to use the old outdoor toilet we used just for convenience in the summer, almost forgetting about the earlier incident.

On coming out, Sylvie was heading towards me down the small alley that led to the toilet, carrying the can in her hand. With an enraged look on her face she declared, “Well if you want it, you can f*****g well have it!  Go on, drink it up,”  and shoved the can into my hands. The can felt warm and heavy but I had no idea what was going on. She continued to scream at me to drink it up but I was terrified, not knowing what was going on. Shaking inside I stared at her wide eyed, not able to speak or move, I was frozen to the spot.

Grabbing hold of the back of my neck with one hand and the can in the other, Sylvie rammed the tin at my mouth. Caught between the can and my teeth, my lip split open and blood poured out and down my chin and neck. As I cried out in pain Sylvie reacted instantly tipping up the can up and started to pour the warm liquid into my mouth. As the liquid poured into my mouth there was a sudden realization of what she had done as the heavily salted water hit my tongue.

As strange as it was, I remember feeling somewhat relieved. Having no idea what the consequences of drinking a load of salt water would be, I had thought that, as a punishment, this was something I could cope with. Although the salty liquid was far from pleasant and caused me to gag when swallowing it, I thought I could manage it, get it over and done with. I stopped struggling and let the liquid pour down my throat whilst Sylvie continued to hold my neck and kept the can at my lips to ensure I drank it all.

When the can was empty Sylvie looked at me and said, “That’ll f*****g well teach you, you thieving little b*****d!”,  and taking the can she simply turned and walked back into the house.

I stood for a moment, stunned by what had happened. Was it going to be as simple as that?  Yes I had a busted lip,  but no slaps, no whacks on the head or beatings from the plastic bat she often used. My t-shirt was covered in blood and grabbing some loo roll to dab my lip, I headed towards the back door to go in and change my clothes.

I had only stepped a few yards when it hit me, a sudden overwhelming nausea engulfed me and I needed to be sick. I turned and headed back to the loo but didn’t make it. At the doorway to the toilet I could hold it no longer and the projectile vomit was to rocket out of my mouth and hit the opposite wall and floor with immense force, decorating everywhere with a mix of salt water, Sunday dinner and sliced tinned peaches, all peppered with the blood from my lip. I retched violently; sweat dripping down my face and neck and my eyes streaming from the strain of each lurch of my belly. The retching just carried on, I was powerless to stop it, engulfing my body and I bent, doubled up as it caused my stomach to lurch violently, over and over.

For what seemed like an eternity I continued to retch and vomit until there was simply nothing left. My head and my eyes hurt, my stomach felt sore and bruised from its assault, my throat was hot and painful, my lip was stinging and I was left weak and wrung out.

After things had abated, I looked around and knew I would need to clear up the mess. Dragging myself off the floor and holding the door frame for support, I managed to stand and gulp a few mouthfuls of air without retching again.

Holding the wall as I went, I started again to make my way back into the house. As I did so, Sylvie appeared out of the back door with a smug look on her face and a mop and bucket in her hand. Walking past me, she made her way to the toilet, looked in the door, and then returned to where I was standing. She seemed satisfied with what she had seen and repeated her previous words of, “That’ll f*****g well teach you, you thieving little b*****d!” and added, “Now maybe you’ll think twice before you go nicking any bleeding thing again.” Pointing towards the toilet she added, “Now go and get that f****r cleaned up and I don’t want to see your f**k ugly face again until tomorrow!”

As weak as I felt, I knew I had to clean up the mess. It wasn’t an easy job as it was everywhere, the floor, the walls, the toilet bowl, the door and even seeping under edges of the lino. I wept the whole time but the physical pain was outweighed greatly by the hurt I felt inside after the cruel and vindictive punishment I had received for something I had not done.

The hurt was immense, the deed had been so thought out, planned with such control and carried out knowing what the consequences would be for me. I could not understand how this could be done in such a heartless way, so controlled, calculated and emotionless.

At that moment it was obvious to me that I was worthless, not loved and didn’t deserve anything good, loving or kind.


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