As a 5 year old, there were multiple times when my worthless piece of scum step dad would grab me by the back of my neck and push my little head to the bottom of the toilet and hold me underwater. Back in those days the water level in the toilet was much higher so I was really scared. My own mother was guilty of abusing me in unthinkable ways as well with scalding water. This was before they abandoned me into foster care, which probably saved my life. When a child suffers brutal child abuse, PTSD can sneak in at unexpected moments. When triggered, trauma from your childhood can infect your life. For me, writing has been very therapeutic and has allowed me to take a real life tragedy, dissect it, and change the ending with a fictional fantasy twist. I love the creative ending!
Child abuse survivor, motivational speaker and inspirational author Derek Clark uses a unique creative writing style to change his story.
“What’s all the commotion, Derek? It’s three o’clock in the morning.”
“Monsters,” Derek squeaked, pointing at the closet. It sounded terribly insufficient and childish. It certainly didn’t pacify Jack.
“Monsters,” Jack shook his irritated head. “Hear that, Debbie? Stupid kid thinks he has monsters in the closet.”
Debbie shrugged. What was she supposed to do about it?
“Yep,” Jack continued, aggravation sharpening his voice. “Derek, did you pee this bed?” Jack wiped his hand on the dry corner of Tru’s sheet. “Tru, I’m talking to you. Debbie, take a look at those sheets,” he said, pointing at the drenched center of the bed. “They’re sopping wet, aren’t they?”
Derek was mortified. Debbie went and pressed her fingertips to the sheet.
“Well?” asked Jack.
“I thought so.” Jack came around and stood in front of Derek. “You like peeing in the bed? Is that the game you’re playing now?”
Derek looked up, pleading for pardon.
Jack slapped him. “I asked you a question. You like peeing that bed?”
“No, sir.” Derek was crying now.
“Oh yes you do. You like waking your Mom and Dad up so you can show them how special you are, because you get to pee in a bed.” He banged Derek hard against the side of the head. “That’s how you get your little kicks and your sick thrills.”
Kicks? Thrills? Derek didn’t know what his stepfather was talking about. Had the man lost his mind? Derek knew these questions weren’t meant to be answered. They were rhetorical, meant only to sting, to project Jack’s hatred, and pour it out like molten lava over his stepson’s head.
“You’re a big boy, huh, you don’t have to use the toilet like everybody else in this household—is that it? Derek is a big boy and can go potty wherever he pleases?”
Derek looked to his mother for some kind of support. Anything, please! Jack looked at Debbie too, and the look on his face was a warning—don’t you dare coddle that boy. Debbie stared hard at Derek. There was no mercy to be found there either. Her look said, “Damn you, Derek, why do you have to cause so many problems for me?”
“So you’re the man of the house, now?” Jack barked at Derek. “You’re the big dog, marking your territory? Making messes wherever and whenever? Is that what this is all about? You trying to tell me this is your home? This is Derek’s doghouse, huh? And the rest of us just live here, is that it?” Jack’s anger was rising steadily.
Derek sensed things were spinning out of control. All the tension of the last few days was coming to crescendo, and the worst was not over. Something bad was soon to happen, Derek was sure of it.
“If you’re gonna act like a dog, then I’m going to treat you like a dog,” Jack said, grabbing Derek by the hair. He yanked hard and dragged Derek out into the hallway. Derek, stepping along on tiptoe, wailed with pain and surprise, and reached up trying to peel Jack’s fingers off.
Jack kicked the bathroom door open and hit the lights. “Dogs drink from the toilet too, Derek. If you’re gonna piss wherever you please like a dog, then you’re gonna have to drink from the toilet like a dog. Dogs don’t drink out of glasses.”
Derek saw where this was headed. “Please! Please, Daddy!” Daddy? Derek must have thought it would work some miracle, the way music soothed the savage beast.
Jack forced Derek to his knees before the toilet bowl, and slammed the lid and seat back against the porcelain tank. “This Derek,” Jack was now shouting every word. He pointed his finger into the bowl. “This is where people go to the bathroom. You think you can learn that? Think you can learn to go potty the way people do?”
Derek twisted and writhed, but Jack had his hair in a death-grip. He shoved Derek’s face into the toilet, his chest squeezing painfully against the hard rim. “Nooo,” Derek’s screams surrounded his head, bouncing off the bowl back into his ears. Jack shoved his face into the water, and Derek blew out, gurgling. His head was yanked back up. “How’s the water, Derek?” Jack showed the vicious look of animal enjoyment on his face. Could it be? Could the man really be enjoying this cruelty? “See that water? You pee into that water, and then you flush,” Jack yanked the handle on the tank. “See, flushie flushie.” As the water swirled Jack pushed Derek’s head back in.
“See how it feels?” Jack growled. “Who has to do the laundry in this house?” Jack pulled Derek’s head out. “Who?” he shook Derek’s head violently, tossing water from his sopping wet hair. His pajama top was drenched. The floor was flooded. Jack’s naked chest glistened wetly in the bathroom lighting.
“My M-M-M-Mommy,” Derek stuttered.
“That’s right, Derek—your Muh-muh-muh-muh-mommy,” Jack mocked. “Do you think she wants to touch your filthy sheets after you’ve made your mess in them?” he dunked Derek’s head back into the toilet. Deeper this time, so his head was completely submerged. Derek had snatched a small quantity of air into his lungs, but it was not enough. His chest burned. He was going to have to breathe—and when he breathed, he was going to drown.
And Derek was not surprised—hadn’t this always been the way things would conclude? The way they had to? The deep misery of this household couldn’t just pile up on itself forever, and keep at a slow burn—there had to be some final release. Derek now saw that it had all been building by increments to this one last ecstatic burst of violence—minute by minute, step by step, building up gradually to the heated climax that was his premature death. And that his last breath would be taken with his head in a toilet bowl—well, that was just poetry, wasn’t it?—the cherry on top. Whether Jack meant to kill Derek, or was just swept away on the stormy wave of his uncontrolled temper, this night would surely end in murder.
Swoosh—Derek’s head was pulled back, a split second before he’d breathed in the clear water of the toilet. He was dizzy, delirious and faint. There was water, water, everywhere. Derek gasped for breath, swooning limply in Jack’s hands. Jack still went on sputtering hot invectives into his face. “This is what happens to animals.” But these words were most unreal to Derek, and seemed to come only from some faraway place—a place a he could ignore, words from a man who no longer had the power to do him any harm.
And somehow, by his removal from this scene, his floating above it, Derek found some kind of strength. Nothing mattered now, so why not fight? It couldn’t help, no, but it couldn’t hurt either. Jack tried to shove Derek’s face down for one more go, but Derek reacted, and locked his elbows hard on either side of the rim. Jack jerked him by the hair, but Derek had found some supernatural strength, and was more or less immovable. Moreover, from Jack’s somewhat awkward angle, it was hard to gain the leverage he required.
Jack applied to Debbie for assistance. “You gonna get in here and help me teach this kid, or are you just gonna stand there like a moron?”
Debbie threw up her hands. The woman was well beyond freaking out—she’d completely flipped her lid, and for all intents and purposes, was no longer with us on good planet Earth. “What do you want me to do?”
“You can start by grabbing his arms. Use your imagination, ya silly hag.”
Debbie leaned over and grabbed Derek by the wrist, yanking it backwards with intensely inappropriate force. Something in Derek’s shoulder snapped, or tore asunder. He arm was no longer connected to his shoulder. It was just hanging. He screamed: “Mommy, no! Please, I love you!”
With Debbie pinning his arms behind him, and Jack forcing his head down into the bowl, Derek had no recourse. Jack was going for the gold—the whole nine yards. Derek couldn’t hold out much longer. The ferocity of the struggle left him spent. Strangely, as his lungs begged more insistently for air, a calm center in his mind spread open wider and wider—until Derek was experiencing some strange Buddhistic peace of mind. The madness around him was more dreamlike than ever, and it became clear to Derek that he had not used up all his options. Far from it. A voice arose inside his head—Derek recognized it as his own voice—and Derek then had this conversation with himself, clear and lucid:
You can’t fight them. Not the two of them. They’re too strong, taken together.
What then, can I do?
The solution is right in front of your face. There is one escape hatch, and it leads down.
The drain? Derek asked. Do you mean that I should go down into the drain?
Because I am too large. I will not fit.
No, not as you are. But there are options.
Why not turn yourself into a fish? That way, you could swim down the drain, away from all this hullabaloo.
Turn myself into a fish? It’s a fine idea. But how does one go about it?
You simply have to will it. With all your might. Desire it above all else, and it will come to pass. Push, push, push yourself into that small hole.
Okay, I’ll do it.
I knew you had it in you. Never give up.
Never give up, Derek repeated. Never give up.
Derek strained his every muscle. He closed his eyes tight. He visualized the change taking place. He let no other thoughts distract him, and zeroed in on his transformation. He flexed and pushed, as if to send the very sweat from his pores squirting out like the sharp spray from a fire hose, as if to squeeze the very juices from his living cells.
And from out his pores there oozed a slick, clean oil. His skin slickened, became impossible to hold. Debbie, feeling her grip on the boy’s wrists slackening, squeezed harder, but they popped out of her hands like greased lightning.
“Hold him, damn you!” Jack demanded.
“I can’t! He’s too slippery.” she yelled, snatching at Derek’s flailing arms. His arms retracted into his torso, until they broadened and flattened and became like fins.
Jack shot her a grim stare. “I have to do everything, don’t I?” As he spoke, the clump of hair in Jack’s hand broke off from Derek’s scalp. Not violently, but the way the fur of a shedding dog comes easily detached. Taken aback by this sudden loss of purchase, Jack stumbled backwards, knocking Debbie into the wall. Derek’s mother slid down onto her butt, hand pressed hard against her slack-jawed mouth, her eyes as wide as dinner plates. The child was morphing into a fish before their very eyes, and she hadn’t any kind of mental reference for it.
Derek’s legs shortened and fused themselves into a single appendage. His torso compacted, and a dorsal fin sprouted from his back, while pelvic and pectoral fins sprouted out in their appropriate turn. His neck sunk into his body as his shoulders crumpled. As he dramatically shrunk in size, the surface of his skin became scaly and shimmery—red and gold and white. His eyes bulged outward, his mouth rounded, and he abated at last into his tiny new form. Derek was now a goldfish, flip-flopping about on the two inch rim of the toilet. He flopped himself hard over the edge and plunked into the water with a small splash—glup, glup, glup—he sunk stilly into the depths, then quickly came to with a jolt, and went about his business of escape.
Derek was a goodly way down the pipes now. It took a moment to gear himself up to it, but once he accepted that he would not drown, his first intake of air—water, we should say—was the sweetest, most compelling relief he’d ever known. Breathing through gills was in no way comparable to respiration with lungs, but after a few upward intakes of water, the process was as natural to Derek as lung-breathing had been while he was still a boy. His gills flapped no less naturally than his heart beat. His new bodyworks did the hard work for him, relieving him of any voluntary effort, extracting the life-sustaining oxygen nice and easy as you please.
As to the use of bifocal eyes, Derek couldn’t say how they compared to human vision. He couldn’t see two inches in front of his fish-face. All was impenetrable darkness. He found his way only by the downward tilt of the direct pipeline, through which the water flowed in accordance with gravity. Derek was not much of a swimmer, and wasn’t inclined to head upstream. So he kept his nose forward and his body upright, occasionally bumping into the sides of the piping, coming to rub against years and years, generations and generations, of soft waste caked against the edges of the city’s subterranean arteries. He pursed his fish lips so that no floating material shot into his mouth, and protective membranes slid down to shield his eyes from the random chunks of who-knows-what and best-not-to-ask.
Derek spilled out from the house laterals into the public mainline, and from there went cascading along this combined river, falling out of drainage after drainage, from tributary to tributary, until at long last he plopped into the city’s main sewer flow. He slipped through the slats of a sluice gate, was flung through the air topsy-turvy, and splashed hard into a fetid, unwholesome overflow—the very Mississippi River of organic waste, the drecks and dregs of numberless urban lifestyles.
As he tossed and turned amongst the scum and solids of this tumultuous river, Derek’s human limbs sprouted out again, and his body turned from Derek, fish-boy, into Derek, boy-boy. It was not a matter of choice. It simply seemed that, his transformation having admirably achieved its primary objective, he could now spring out like a pop-up tent into his native configuration.
He erupted from the water, shaking his sopping hair. Oh, it was icky! He was covered in slime. After wiping the dank water from his eyes, Derek took in his new surroundings. He’d only seen sewers in horror movies, in which the hero goes underground to encounter in the menacing network of underground tunnels some time-forgotten beast or a lost tribe of cannibalistic humanoids. He found that the real thing pretty much conformed to the cinematic representation.
By Derek Clark and Mike Laemmle
That little boy grew up. Here is a brief background about Derek Clark.
Derek Clark’s life is one of resilience and redemption. As a child he suffered unthinkable child abuse, abandonment and emotional distress before being turned over to the psychiatric hospital at age five. His 13 years in the San Francisco bay area foster care system reflected an early life of humiliation, aggression, emotional distress, overwhelming anxiety and being wrongfully labeled. Eventually, with the help of foster parents and mentors he defied the artificial limitations imposed upon him.
Derek knows first hand how to cope with adversity and overcoming hardship. His past has never held him back from accomplishing what he set his heart and mind to.
Derek is an inspiring speaker/trainer, a featured expert on CNN Headline News, The Ricki Lake Show and The Steve Harvey TV Show. Google ranks Derek the #1 “inspiring motivational speaker” out of 18 million listings. He is the author of six books including “Never Limit Your Life” and the “I Will Never Give Up” book series.
As a speaker, author and singer/songwriter, Derek has spoken and performed his music from Australia to Canada including a President of the United States. His true-life trials and personal triumphs have inspired organizations with his message of hope and unwavering perseverance.
His maxim is to make no excuses. He has turned his situation from a victim to a victor, equipping him with the Wisdom and the Will to never give up.
To find out more about motivational speaker Derek Clark visit www.IWillNeverGiveUp.com
Derek Clark shares his story at a conference.