Oliver said nothing, did as he was told. He changed his clothes, came down, sat at the table, ate. After the meal his step father went into the other room and turned on the television.
Oliver had never seen television before and came to marvel. He watched until his mother told him to use the downstairs bathroom, brush his teeth, then go to bed.
This time she actually came in to show him how to operate the toilet. She should have shown him the first time she sent him to shower, as well as showing him the hot and cold water faucets.
He saw, in her, an evil. A palpable cruelty. He believed she’d push him into a situation he couldn’t manage so he would fail. Then, after he messed up, show him how to manage it.
Proudly, for him, he had once used a flush toilet. Proudly, he had looked at the dials seeing one marked ‘H’ and one marked ‘C’ and somehow knew one was hot and one was cold.
But what if he hadn’t? What if he’d scalded his skin? Would his mother laugh? Berate him? And if he hadn’t know how to flush a toilet, would she have ridiculed him?
Her ‘clever’ delay, this ‘protocol’ was filed in his soul, as something he could do to hurt someone else, as his mother hurt him