A new story about fumbling love, and the brotherhood of the Pointillists. Read it here.
first published in Transition
We were in a thunderstorm and we were going really fast downhill. There was a river at the bottom of the hill, and also some gloomy-looking trees. We were both so wet. He must’ve been wet. My glasses were wet and I couldn’t see anything hardly.
I started going too fast, it was extremely bumpy. I wondered that the old man could run so fast. Then I heard something that was like far-away yelling. Oh my god, I thought. It’s happening. I’ve gotten away. I am rocketing down a steep hill, into deep water. This is every wheeler’s nightmare.
My teeth were rattling, so I pressed my teeth down hard together. I held down hard onto my armrests. I’m thinking that was probably the wrong thing to do, now. I should’ve tried to fall off my chair as soon as possible, and let it drown. But I was scared of falling off, I was going so fast. The rain made it confusing.
I hit something, the wheelchair hit something. Probably a huge rock or something. The wheelchair kind of stayed still, and I kind of went flying. I’m not a very goddy sort of person but I remember thinking god don’t let me fall in the river and drown.
Then I landed in the river.
So I was drowning. Drowning is probably a worse thing even that being a wheelchair person. Especially when you’re a wheelchair person. I just couldn’t do too much about it. I have ok movement in my arms but in my legs not so much. My feet are the worst and just soft and hanging like lamb-chops. Water was pouring into my throat like it was the Titanic, and into my lungs. I was trying to breathe so bad but there was only ice-cold water. I think I was crying.
I was just about dead, but then I was in a lot of pain because someone grabbed me by the hair and pulled me up out of the water.
The old man was crying. He just hugged me, but didn’t say anything, but put me back in my chair, there was nothing to dry off with. Then he pushed me back up the hill. The whole time he pushed me, he was crying. Eventually he stopped crying. Then it stopped raining, too.
I just about died.
I’m quiet and still and the trouble with being quiet and still is that people will occasionally mistake you for a toilet. It’s easy to take things out on me or blame me for things. Mom does this pretty much daily. She used to love me. She’s like the dolls with the smaller dolls in them, but she forgets they’re there, that one of those moms really loved me. Or she could never hurt me. I’m a different kid now, too. But I still remember the smaller kid, in her sarcophagus, who loved her mom and felt pretty loved. I still feel her, sometimes. I guess life would be easier, if I couldn’t.
Occasionally my dad stands up and whispers to mom not to say this or that in front of me but it doesn’t matter. I can hear her from the kitchen. I can hear him. He doesn’t talk much about me so I have to listen.
What are we going to do with her? What will happen to her? What’s, going, to happen?
Then I’m swallowing water and sinking. I’m listening and I’m sinking. I’m the whale with the harpoon earrings. I’m sinking.
When my parents are suddenly alone I try to get to my room fast but the elevator doors don’t always close fast enough. Or they open and drop me in the middle of something, a storm cloud that I thought was just fluffy nest material. I listen and I watch my parents roll out of the kitchen like smoke, looking only at the space exactly above me or beside me. Then I look at them sinking down on the two big couches and I think, What have I done to these people?
I’ll bet they ask themselves the same thing.
Our daughter vanished.
The woman looked pretty normal. She had long hair even though she was over 40. She had a brittle voice that made you listen carefully in case you dropped it.
She was a beautiful, healthy girl. And she vanished.
The whole time she spoke to us she didn’t blink. The trick to not crying might be to dry out your eyes.
She was a prostitute. She got into hard drugs.
I have to admit that sort of made her less angelic in my book. I was picturing Little Dorrit or something. I’m pretty judgemental.
We found her in the Parliamentary Gardens. In a rose bush. Bleeding. They were actually white roses.
Even my teacher swallowed hard. I stared at her like, Where do you find these people? She stared at a square on the floor.
My daughter is an angel. She speaks to me. She hovers above me, and guides me. She forgives me. She loves me.
Without really realizing it, I think the whole class looked up at the ceiling. All I could see was the curved mirror they put in after the shootings. In her warped back reflection the woman’s shoulders were a bit like folded-back wings.
I looked at my teacher again. She started clapping. I guess it was over.