I tried to lift my head from the table and winced as my bottom settled in the chair.
“She had vaccinations in both sides of her bottom,” the woman said.
“If she can’t sit straight, then send her to bed,” he said.
“The doctor said she’s too thin. She must eat more,” she said.
“I’ve been telling you to make her eat!” he said. “You let her leave food on her plate.”
“She throws up so easily,” the woman said, her voice shrill.
He pointed at the creamy, white liquid in my glass, “What’s she drinking?”
The woman jumped, then raised one shoulder. The shrill note still edged her voice, “Extra rich milk. Dr. DeBrun told me to get it. She needs the protein and calories.”
“Rene knows how many children I have to feed,” the man said in a resounding undertone
“Sit up and eat your food,” he said.
I put a piece of dry meat, chewed, and washed it down with a sip of milk.
“Your vegetables too,” he commanded.
I swallowed a forkful of the faded green leaves and gagged at the bitterness.
“You can’t let them waste food,” the man grumbled.
She and the other children finished their meals and left the table. The man sat in his seat at the far end watching me.
“Take your elbows off the table and eat!” he shouted when I propped one elbow on the table and rested my head on one hand.
“Why are you limping,” he demanded as I carried my empty plate to the kitchen.
“My bottom hurts,” I whimpered.
He followed me into the kitchen.
“Come here!” he commanded. “Hold the refrigerator handle.”
I held it with one hand.
“Use both hands!: He grabbed my other hand and pushed it onto the handle so that I faced the refrigerator. “Now bend your knee and lift your leg. Like this,” he bent one knee and raised his thigh to the height of his waist. I bent my knee and raised my thigh a few inches.
“It hurts!” I squeaked. Slimy salty liquid filled the back of my throat; it spilled from my eyes.
“I’ll give you reason to cry if you don’t stop that right now! Raise your leg!” he said.
I tried again but lifted it no higher.
The man pulled his belt from the loops on his trousers. “I’ll make you lift your leg!”
The belt smacked my bottom hitting one of the spots where the nurse had jabbed me. I screamed.
“Lift your leg!” he commanded again. Again, I tried and failed. Over and over he hit me until I was jumping to get away from the pain of his blows, mucus streaming from my nose, tears from my eyes.
“Now get to bed,” he finally said.
I limped away. At the kitchen doorway, my stomach heaved. A slimy green and brown pile of food and curdled milk lay on the floor.