Night Sky: A Memoir
Tylyn K. Johnson
Copyright 2018 byTylyn K. JohnsonE
is the story of a scar on my face cutting through my eyebrow, from
when I was but a small child. I had taken some time to reflect on the
significance of that moment in my life and relationship with my
younger brother, as if it were the scene of a narrative of another’s
making. And while what “meaning” I have extracted from it
may have been of little consequence, it does illuminate some bit of
my existence for me, which I want to think is enough to merit sharing
as more than a tale told to others at parties.
sincerely hope you enjoy this, and maybe even get a bit more out of
it than a few minutes of leisurely reading. Even a moment of
contemplation would be good for this writer’s weathered soul.
we begin, I must tell you that others told some of the details to me
over the years following the event. I’d tell you to guess which
ones, but I’m honestly not entirely sure which part of the
memory came from whose eyes.
start, I’d like to caution you to be careful with how you
handle your memories, especially that first vivid one. It could drive
you crazy with a single question.
what happened a sign of what was to come, or a cause?”
own memory has driven me crazy about my near-constant state of
vigilance. I’ve almost always been entirely on edge, but not in
the way that scares people off. I just happen to notice many things
sensory, from the eye-floaters in my crappy vision to the very strong
taste of grilling smoke emerging from my neighbors’ homes. Yes,
the taste of smoke. But that’s not what you care about, is it?
Let’s start with a few questions that are difficult for me to
didn't I die then? I should’ve been crushed to death, right?”
was a light and crispy August night in the year 2005. My younger
siblings and I were winding down for the evening. We had only just
moved into the place I’d call my childhood home, beginning to
establish a life in a house between gentrification and hoodification,
“hood adjacent,” if you will.
sister, who was three, was lying on my bed; probably trying to read
some book my mother had bought her. My younger brother, who was five,
was wandering our once-shared bedroom. Don’t ask me why. In my
innocence at six years old, I laid on the brown wooden floor, smooth
except for some occasionally-shifting crevices. My hands rested
underneath my head, my dark brown, almost black, eyes gazing up at
the TV. Something in Spanish was being played on the TV, with Latino
cowboys gracing the screen. No idea why a young me would be watching
that, but alas, I'm not sure if it was subtitled or not. My parents
were probably doing parental things, like cooking, sleeping, or
TV seemed to move with a bit of a mind of its own, slowly crawling
away from the wall its stand was next to. I didn’t react to it
moving off the stand, maybe because I wasn’t really paying
attention to it, or just because I didn’t really care. I must
have subconsciously known what might happen next, I just stayed right
there. Regardless, the TV slowly crawled off the stand. The bottom of
it jutted out like a DVD would from its player when a CD went in or
out of its mouth.
the big boxy television—the kind kids growing up today would
never know—jumped off the stand and bore down on me with the
wrath of a god. Nope, those were my brother’s hands, pushing
mother once told me that she had planned his birth so that I wouldn’t
experience the loneliness she felt during her childhood, to have an
eternal friend. Unfortunately, that's not the way things work between
us. I’m still surprised that a five-year-old had the strength
to push that big ass TV off the stand, being that it had to have been
heavier than him.
the TV tipped forward, descending upon me. I had heard nothing, but a
corner of the TV had embedded itself within my left eyebrow. I also
apparently felt nothing. I didn’t scream for help or cry for
mercy. I couldn’t even blink in surprise. Lame? Alright, I'll
try to stop.
it because of shock? Fear? My mother and former stepfather were
quickly drawn by the noise the crash had apparently made. My lack of
reaction probably left them believing me dead. My former stepfather,
a 250-pound, thirty year-old man at the time, had tears streaming
down his face.
baby boy! Ty!" He picked the TV up and moved it off of me. My
mother was extremely calm by comparison, tearless too. She lifted my
prone body, and they all noticed something. There was blood …
everywhere. The extremely ugly open wound was actually large enough
for Mike to ball up a towel and stick into it. I obviously needed
immediate help in an infirmary.
mother took me to the car and laid me across the backseat as she
drove us to the nearby hospital. She called her mother to join us in
transit. Looking through the car window, the night sky looked pretty
chill. There was a full moon and what seemed like millions of stars.
Those white celestial bodies were the lights of innocence against the
alluring midnight blue sky. The stars seemed like eyes, just staring
down at me as I gazed at them, blank-minded. I miss those days, when
you could see the stars so easily.
mother parked right in front of the street entrance to the ER and
carried me into the hospital, wearing a tired and worried expression.
She moved swiftly while telling me to keep my eyes open and not go to
sleep. My former stepfather stayed with my siblings. She demanded
immediate care for me. When my grandmother got there, she was on the
brink of becoming a bawling mess.
baby! My precious grandbaby!" My mother had to calm her down.
The doctors already had me on the way to get stitches.
rest was a bit of a blur. I know that it took at least six people,
including my mother and grandmother, to restrain me for those
stitches. That was the only time, during that entire ordeal, that
tears fell from my eyes, and the screams. Simply put, pure terror.
Think along the lines of the screams from an arduous exorcism and
cruel torture combined. Disturbing enough? I just wish they had used
some anesthesia. If they did, they should’ve gotten stronger
stuff or something, I felt the pricks, and it looked like the needle
was coming straight for my eye. I was not ready to go blind by a
doctor’s hands, now my glasses prescription gets stronger with
the wound was cleaned and stitched, after the agonized and petrified
screams ended, after I happily received an orange popsicle with two
of the flat sticks in it, I returned home for a bear hug from Mike.
His arms crushed me like I was a gift that’d been too tightly
wrapped. Whether if it was for me or for him, I don't know. The
ensuing happiness allowed for me to almost forget the earlier events.
If only such innocence was possible now. Good times, good times. But
I never received an apology from my brother, not even now, years
later. After so much else has happened. And I’m okay with that,
but for some reason it still sticks with me.
specific memory seems to foreshadow a pattern-of-sorts in my life.
When there’s a new beginning, when my prospects in life are
looking rather promising, something happens. And I grow ever more
wary and weary, expecting something to happen, but also ever-tired of
that I think about it, we had something of a repeat of that event,
eleven years after the fact. That amounts to one shy of a full East
Asian zodiac cycle, from my understanding. I guess it’s the
years of jackassery. During some trying family arguments about what
to do with my then-extremely violent younger brother, then-sixteen,
he came out of the bathroom he sequestered himself in and
suckerpunched me. I didn’t even have a moment of shock this
time, and I’m no fighter, but I swung back. The first time, I
sustained a physical scar, the second time an emotional one.
Hopefully there’s no more repeats, they say “a third
time’s a charm,” and I’m not interested in finding
out what a third time with him will mean for me. So for all intents
and purposes, it might just be a thing with me and my brother.
used to look back on this lovely memory and wonder, “What makes
this memory so vivid compared to even my latest memories?” I
mean, it happened when I was barely in grade school, and I can barely
remember the occurrences spanning my day-to-day life. Now I
understand why, it’s because it’s the first vivid memory
I have, the beginning of the persona regaling this tale to you, per
se. This unforgettable event, caused by a five-year-old, created a
distinct sense of caution within me, which I may have masked as
sibling-hatred, or even academic intelligence.
just as much as that event from August 2006 was mirrored in August
2017, mirrors have become something I avoid ever since I began
examining this memory. I think it’s because the scar I bear
upon my face is a reminder of what I’ve become. That scar is
probably what makes the memory so real, since it sits on my face, and
I know what my face looks like. Oh well.
it’s all really just a placebo effect. Now I'm a bit annoyed
the traces to the roots of my being that seem right, and then seem
past may be the future's key. Or am I just overthinking some
consider myself an emerging, socially-conscious writer. From
Indianapolis, I currently attend the University of Indianapolis on a
Dean's Scholarship. I have published a short story in Severance
Publications' “Depravity” anthology, and an article in
the Urban Media Project's "Speak Your Truth" magazine. I
have also had a winning essay published by the Adlai Stevenson Center
on Democracy, and other essays published by the NUHA Foundation.
Through my writing, I hope to share a perspective of identity,
reflection, and research on my journey to positively affect the
communities around me.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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