Thursday, May 3, 2012


The young boy listens to his mother and his older sister fight. The boy is eight years old, and does not understand certain words that are spoken more viciously than others, like they were acrid, like they needed to be spit quickly out of the mouth. Words like: resentment, cruelty, abusive, rape. The last word is repeated over and over again in a variety of ways. It is hissed, it is moaned, it is abandoned. The boy watches from a darkened hallway and is not seen, in spite of his hoping to be noticed. He gives substance to the shadows. The boy is under the misguided impression that if he walks into the living room the fighting will cease, that someone will embrace him. He was having a nightmare. He left the room to be comforted. In his dream, hands and arms dripped from the ceiling like tar and held down his arms and his legs, they covered his mouth and his eyes. When he awoke he didn't scream or thrash his sheets but gasped for air, as though he'd been holding his breath, as though the dream with the hands was all the more real. That's when he walked into the living room. That's when he learned for the first time how much weight could be pushed from someone's mouth, how everything could change with a single utterance, a confession, a cry, one for help or attention. And with this newfound understanding the boy speaks. He says, "I," and then stops. He looks back and forth between his mother and his sister who have stopped fighting to stare at him. They say nothing. No one says anything. The boy has made mention to his existence, to his presence in the room, and the silence carries the rest. The silence, he learns, explains everything.