Doctor Saul Swede said the best way to get my children back was to put my thoughts into a journal. How does this do any good? My children need me now most of all. What is the Aristotelian connection between losing your children and writing down why you have children to start with?

Ms. Cathy China, the cafeteria chef, said Doctor Saul Swede wants me to understand myself better. Once my journal is complete, he'll let me have my children and we can go back to our pink painted home in Torrance, California. Ms. Cathy China said my journal would help the doctor do his job. Even after the most patient exhortation, she couldn't comprehend that I didn't understand Doctor Saul Swede's job at all. She just repeated exactly the same answer without changing her tone or inflection.

How can anyone work under such conditions?

Perhaps I should start with my husband, Mr. Anteros America who always wanted children. He had foster parents himself, you see, and wanted a large family.

It is important for me to finish this journal expediently. I've already missed eleven parties and five more of my children have birthdays this week alone. My youngest girls need to be tucked in. They won't be able to sleep otherwise. Poor little Ximu, Nuzeta, Mutau, Taupsi and Iotaxi and the others are crying like foundling charges in their little beds right now.

Doctor Saul Swede wouldn't say how many pages to write. He said to just speak from my heart, let the words flow and put them in order later if needed. Don't pretty up the first draft; just add perfume later. He wants the stinky kinky leather words that flow through my head before anyone cleans up the mess.

That's clear enough.

Doctor Saul Swede wants more.

My past due husband, Mr. Anteros America, wanted children. He was a foster child himself and said a big family felt like a woolen scarf. He could wrap himself again and again.

Since Mr. Anteros America wanted a family and I had needs of my own, we reached an accord. He got children and I got the biggest pink house in Torrance, California.

That pretty much explains everything. Mr. Anteros America and I formed the perfect union. I kept up my end of the bargain and delivered four times within the first three months. Mr. Anteros America was delighted. We moved from our condominium in the common place to the three-story stucco pleasure palace with a view of the ocean at sunset and city lights at night.

That's a full exposé on the merits of a large family. If that doesn't satisfy Doctor Saul Swede, I don't know what possibly could. As his people say, quod erat demonstrandum.

Doctor Saul Swede wants more.

Nothing good ever comes from working in haste. Doctor Saul Swede read my journal and said I need to delve deeper into the stench of my anger. He told me to sense myself so that I could start to heal. I told him how we got sixty-nine children and he said I need to do more. It's just like a Swede to ask for more and more at the exact time you have less and less to give.

But, what choice do I have? All my children are in foster care by now. They're split up all over the state of California. When I get them back, half won't remember me. The rest will be pregnant or have families of their own.

Mr. Anteros America said it would come to this. He was a puny alarmist, prone to panic at every paltry problem. It turned out Mr. Anteros America was also mysophobic and that made all the difference.

After our sixty-ninth child was born, Mr. Anteros America changed his designs about children. He said there were too many and they all had to go. Now, at that point I was managing just fine. During feeding time, I'd line up sixty-nine bowls of milk and put the solid food into trays that I had bolted into wall studs. They spread into every part of the house. I made sure to always align them in the northeast corner of the room away from a draft. By this time, our home had become a single story structure so the trays had to be aligned kitty corner. Every child had plenty of room. There was never any shoving, crowding or scratching.

To keep the floors clean, I covered any mess with two inches of the unscented variety of super-absorbent powdered clay. With children, there are bound to be a few toilet accidents and this simple precaution prevented the release of any unfortunate odor. I am a firm opponent of severe toilet training. In our home, we never punished a child for pungent little potty accidents. This was the first case of a severe break in my accord with Mr. Anteros America. He most irrationally objected to the feeding and toilet regimens of our children.

Now, that, Doctor Saul Swede, is the whole and complete story of how I found myself raising sixty-nine children alone in a pink house in Torrance, California. Now that I have plumbed the depth of my soul, now that I have exposed all for the world to see, now, for the love of god, can I have my children back? Now, can we return to our pink painted home?

Doctor Saul Swede wants more.

Is there no rest for the weary? I showed this journal to Doctor Saul Swede and, of course, he wanted more. He wants me to give an account of my neighbors. He said, "How do you think your neighbors reacted to your household?"

Wouldn't it be better to ask my neighbors directly?

Well, since he asked, let me tell you about them. A very unpleasant man named Mr. Walter Wales lives in the house next to mine.

Mr. Walter Wales has mental and emotional shortcomings, making him thoroughly unqualified for his current occupation as a postal carrier. This so-called gentle Welshman possessed the temerity to report certain trivial zoning and public health infractions to the county constabulary.

Let me assure you that Mr. Walter Wales is no gentleman. He has been known to consort, flagrante delicto, with a certain Ms. Edna English who is both unmarried and without escort. Since I am not dedicated to the art of gossip, I will not repeat the comments I have overheard concerning their relationship. Nor will I transcribe the timing of her arrivals and departures at the home of Mr. Walter Wales, which I assiduously recorded in a series of ledgers.

No, I won't do any of those things.

I can report however, that another of my neighbors has perhaps the most unruly teenage children in Christendom.

I kept a most complete record of the deeds and misdeeds of Ms. Loretta Latvia. Although her simple mob of miscreants live on the opposite side of the street, they are irresistibly drawn to my sidewalk. Her spawn insists upon riding their skateboards and colored bicycles as close as possible to my home. If Mr. Anteros America hadn't gone out for a package of Turkish cigarettes on July 27th 1989, he would put an end to the aromatic antics of Ms. Loretta Latvian, the brood of urchins and the reprehensible cohort of slackers they attract.

At one time, I held complete documentation detailing the transgressions of the Latvian confederacy. However, an unforeseen rise of the level of granular absorbents completely soaked the bottom shelf of the bookcase Mr. Anteros America put in our kitchen.

Don't worry, Doctor Saul Swede. After the loss of those most valuable ledgers, I instituted certain changes to the ad libitum organization of my household.

Since August 16th 1996, I have kept my important ledgers suspended on strands of yarn attached, through wisdom holes, to the rafters of my home. I asked Señor Juan Japan if my suspension system complied with building codes and county construction standards. Señor Juan Japan confirmed that my ledger should be kept at a level above the moisture retaining grains that by then had grown to a depth of nine inches throughout the house. He said the clear ingenuity of my solution might become a new construction standard for the County of Los Angeles.

I suspect that Señor Juan Japan took my system design to some personal gain for himself because I never again saw his deceptively simple "Lawn and Tree Care" truck parked near our home.

Mr. Roger Russia has been a most reliable advisor during these years of incarceration. We have devised a perfectly reliable system of surreptitious communication.

When I need his assistance, I signal him with a simple coded cipher using two hundred and eighty-two sheets of tissue paper. I flush one hundred and fifty-nine sheets down the northern commode in the shared restroom on my floor of the dormitory. While the water is still running from the first flush, I flush one hundred and twenty-three additional sheets down the southern commode. This sends an unmistakable signal to Mr. Roger Russia. While he is here with his crew making the necessary repairs, he continually reviews my journal and, when he receives my coded signal at his command post in West Hollywood, he delegates normal surveillance duties to his subordinates.

Mr. Roger Russia has advised me that my tiny journal is now complete and when Doctor Saul Swede next reads it, he will surely release me, return my sixty-nine children and allow us to go back to our pink painted home in Torrance, California.

Title image "My Journal" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2016.