The freezer was in the garage–one of those chest freezers people usually keep out in their garage for all that extra food they have and don’t need. That’s where we kept it–in the garage. My parents bought it off a neighbor, I think. I don’t recall when that happened–if I was 5 when the freezer came into our lives, or if I was as much as 10.
But the freezer was my father’s torture chamber.
I don’t remember why I ended up in the freezer–or if my father justified it in some way.
I’ll tell you what I do remember: the experience of suffocation, the fear, the lightheadedness and the pain in my hands mostly from the cold. I also remember the strategies I used to try to stay conscious and to minimize the pain.
It helps, for one, if you don’t cry or call out. It helps if you breathe slowly and shallowly and as little as possible. It helps if you breathe into something warm, so that the cold air doesn’t hurt so much in your lungs and so that that part of you–whatever it is, an arm perhaps–is just a little bit warmer from your breath.
And you hope that you won’t die this time. Or perhaps that you will.