Some Whole Wheat Words

And Other Up-Lift

Archive for May 2007

Brother

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It got hot fast here in Barrie. The humidity rolls off of Georgian Bay like a carpet, curling hair and dampening underarms. When it cools off in the evenings, I like to walk. It’s surprising where you can end up, just putting one foot in front of the other.

It’s been clement long enough for lawns to grow out a few centimetres, and now everyone’s mowing and the air is filled singularly with the smell of cut grass. People love that smell, but there’s a poison in it, too; fumes, oil, complacency.

One of the places that my feet took me today, besides the fridge and the liquor cabinet, was a classroom in Georgian College. For the second summer in a row, I’m auditing a creative writing class. In that classroom, as part of an exercise, I wrote this thing here, which might be a story.

———-

I was frightened by the boy they called my brother. He was real; he was obdurate. He was never a pair of scissors or a thimble or a thumbtack. He never appeared suddenly in the sewing-room, fully formed and naked, unknowing, screaming at being alive. He had come out of the vagina of the woman they called my mother, purple and small, and had grown up gradually. This was natural, I was told. I nodded. Natural.

His eyes were dull but he was brilliant at school and had a future. He had two names, and they insisted to everyone that I had two names, as well. I don’t think anyone believed them. I looked about fourteen and I had come from nowhere. To myself, I always had one name, like the government said I should. I was not allowed to go to school because it was dangerous, the mother-woman told me.

He didn’t like talking to me. He said I wasn’t a real person at the dinner table over steamed carrots, and everyone stopped eating and waited. This was in the first two months; I can remember. People like me can. The man they called my father said that he should be quiet; we all became quiet for the rest of the meal, and for the rest of the day.

He was a good boy, said the visiting friends of these people, my fake family. We would sit in the living-room and everyone would fidget as they looked at me and tried not to ask. I was given summer dresses, and wore them clumsily with the tags on. I went to a different room when we ate, because I could not use fork or knife, could not control my hands enough to tear the natural-born meat apart on the resounding plate in the silence of the dinner room. Instead I struggled and spilled and the boy would look at me with his dull eyes burning. I was deformed to him, misshapen like candle-wax cooled in a glass of water. They told the friends that I was very sick and needed to rest.

In the emptied sewing room where I had appeared, sitting on the boy’s small baby-cot where I slept, I pawed at cooked peas and scooped crumbling bits of mashed potatoes into my mouth with my fingers. The meat I left to the stray cats outside. I disliked meat. It tasted of blood and knives.

He was the one that told the police, that day he came home and his parents were away.

“I hate you,” he said. I didn’t know what to say, licked my dry lips, clutched at my body to make it smaller. It was warm and I shivered. “I’m going to call the cops and they’ll take you away to the Grace, and nobody will ever see you again.” The Grace is full of people like me who came from a pair of scissors or a thimble or a thumbtack. The government puts them there. His dull eyes moved rapidly up and down my body, his hands clenched. “Sit on the couch,” he said, and so I did. I watched the telephone and clutched the cushions in sweating hands. He made noises from the kitchen and came into the living room eating a banana.

“You’re not real,” he said. “You’re not my sister.” There were bits of banana in his mouth when he talked. I didn’t say anything. I knew I wasn’t his sister. He looked at me and I looked out the window and my teeth bit together. Then he picked up the phone and dialed 211.

“Yes, police?” he said, in a funny voice, like a grownup. “I’d like to report an unregistered Immaculate Conception,” he said. This was the name for me, from the government. People with no family, hatching suddenly from a pair of scissors or a thimble or a thumbtack. He looked at me for a second, looked away. He said our address to the phone. A garbage truck passed in the afternoon, full of rotting things.

“Thank you,” he said, and hung up. He looked at me, and I looked back at him. He grabbed me by the arm, pulled me off of the couch. “You stupid bitch. Why don’t you say anything?” He said. I don’t have a lot of words to say to people. I broke his grip and pushed past him. “Where are you going?” he asked. I went to the kitchen. He came followed me with his banana peel. He dropped his banana peel on the floor.

“You’re going back the sewing room,” he said, looking through me. He reached for my arm and I reached in the crevice between the stove and the counter and pulled out the knife that my fake family used to cut meat. It had little teeth in a row on one side, scalloped like tiny seashells.

He gasped loud because the knife was in his solar plexus, and curled over my hand. There was blood on my bare feet and the front of my summer dress and on my arm. I pushed him backwards and let go of the knife. Dull eyes looked up at me from the floor.

“I’m real,” I said, and wiped my hand on my dress. “But I’m not your sister.” I’m not anyone’s sister. I was a pair of scissors, in the sewing room. Now I’m a person. He curled in around the knife handle and made a noise. I was real and now he wasn’t.

I stepped over the banana peel and let myself out the back door. The stray cats talked to each other and rubbed on my legs. Sirens sang from far away, getting closer, and I turned onto an alley and started running, my legs like scissors again. I smelled of blood and metal. I used to be a pair of scissors.

Scissors cut.

Written by wholewheatwords

May 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized