I sat on the brown carpet with my red bowl filled with 50 cent coins. I was a witch and they were my prisoners, my food. My older sister sat a few feet from me playing video games with my father, but they were merely in the background of my magic world. Cackling happily to myself, blissfully unconcerned by life, I stuffed a handful of my captives in my mouth.
Even though I was very young I knew better than to swallow them for real, but one coin had other plans. This was my first experience of true, all-encompassing fear. I stood, choking for life, my mind filled with death. My father turned, the horror in his eyes mirroring mine, and leapt into action. He flipped me upside down so that my head dangled around his knees, and the coin flew from my throat as he pumped my stomach with his fists. It rolled to a stop on the carpet and winked at me.
This is my earliest memory. I don’t think I was ever unconcerned by life again.