It’s easier for Daniel to start with tears—to imagine pulling a binky away, popping the head off a favorite doll. A simple denial: “Uncle Daniel doesn’t love you.” There are certain thoughts that trigger the brain’s defenses, but sometimes the seeds slip by. Sadness shifts to pain: a yank of a ponytail, an outstretched foot lying in wait in the hallway for a pair of unsuspecting toddler shins. At the top of the stairs, a push from behind—just the slightest push.
It’s only on the worst days that Daniel allows it to go further—only when the baby wakes at three in the morning and won’t stop crying, not even when they hold him, not even when they give him gas drops or Tylenol or lay him out on the bed to let him stretch and roll. Days like these are when Daniel allows himself to forget which thoughts he’s supposed to be blocking. When the fantasies bleed into one another, each more hateful than the last, mounting with the baby’s constant screams into a single, glorious vision: Daniel gripping the fat thing by its haunches and punting it into the valley, watching it plummet into the tall grass, downed unceremoniously… Read more »