Yelling like a cat on fire.
That's what Suzy would have said, and she would have laughed at him
standing there makin' an awlful face, yelling, with his only hand
slammed in the truck door.
Yelling at me to come here. Then he said he was going to kill me. Said
it over and over. If I didn't come and open the door. After a while he
stopped yelling and started breathin' real hard.
"Child," he said. "C'mere and help me. Please."
I'm not going. He can say please all he wants and I'm not going. He said
they'd arrest me if I didn't help him. He said they'd find out what a
bad girl I been. He said I'd go to hell.
He can say all he wants.
The snow's turning to sleet, stinging my face.
"We're going to freeze to death!" he hollers.
Yesterday was my birthday. Suzy put a cupcake on my bed at the shelter.
It had a candle in it. One candle, not twelve. And it wasn't even
chocolate, my favorite, it was vanilla. And it was old, Suzy said she
saved it from lunch last week. I don't know where she got the candle. We
shared the cupcake.
Suzy asked me, "How does it feel to be twelve?"
He walked by then, while we were eating, out in the hall, pushing his
broom with his one ol' arm. Suzy hid under the bed. But I didn't, I saw
he didn't have that look in his eye. He didn't even look in the room.
When he was gone I said, "Nothing. Nothing feels like nothing." Then I
looked out the window.
But today feels like something. The sounds make me feel something. The
wind blowing up a storm. The sleet beatin' up high in the branches. The
branches creakin'. While ago, him beating his head against the truck
door, thud, thud, thud. The whimpering . . .
Today if Suzie asked me again, "How does it feel to be twelve?" I'd have
something to say. I'd look up there at that dark swirling ocean,
spitting out that sleet.
"Feelings have sounds," I'd say and wait and let her hear them. "That
wind. That wind howling. Sounds like him breathin' when he's doing it to
Then I'd point up to the trees, skaking and moaning. I'd make sure she
"That whimpering." I'd nod my head, then make her close her eyes and
really hear it, that sound, like an animal dying. And I'd have her
listen to our teeth chattering like old bones.
"That's how it feels to be twelve, Suzy. Close your eyes and listen.
That's what it is."