A Child Called It Chapter 6 - While Father Is Away Summary

Father got in the habit of doing the dishes with David after dinner. He would tell David he wanted to take him away from the "madhouse" they lived in. Catherine took away the little enjoyment this ritual gave David saying that "the boy" could do the dishes alone. Father was home less and less. When he left for a long period of time, mother starved David for ten consecutive days. All he had was the little bits of water he could manage to steal. One day she put a plate of cold leftovers in front of him and told him he had two minutes to eat. She took the plate before his fork hit it and laughed at him. Her next "game" was putting a bucket of ammonia and Clorox in the bathroom with him and shutting the door. David had to be resourceful to save himself this time. He wet a rag in the toilet and breathed into that. He also found a vent and tried to get air from that. She left him out, but he coughed up blood for the next hour. David began to lose faith in God. Mother came home one day, filled the tub with cold water, and made David lie in it. She proceeded to violently strangle him. She made him stay there for hours with only his nose above water until she ordered him to get dressed, while still wet, and sit in the cold backyard while his family ate dinner together. David had a substitute teacher, briefly, in the fourth grade. She was the only person that treated him like a human being. He had a crush on her and thinking of her helped him through cold nights in the backyard. Even David's brothers no longer acknowledged him and he hated all of them. When Catherine went into labor and went to the hospital, David was once again part of the family. She soon came home with a baby boy, and befriended a neighbor named Shirley. Catherine acted like a loving mom in front of her, but Shirley began to ask why David was punished so often. One day they were no longer friends and Catherine apologized to David, she even cried, and then she allowed him to be with the family. The next day a social worker came to the house and David understood the change in his mother. She only said those things to him because her friend reported her. He once again became the family servant. David ends the chapter by expressing his love for his father, and his feeling sad when his dad left. He never knew when he'd see him next.

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