Logo Intercultural Platform

Begin Back Start reading Page down Forward End Mail

When Feelings Have Sound - Michael Smith

[Other titles in English] [All other titles]

He's beatin' his head against the door of that old rattle-trap truck like it's going to do something for him. I hope what it does is hurt.

If Suzy could see him now, she'd laugh. I know she would.

She saw him this afternoon, limpin' down the hall, that one arm of his dangling beside him like some kind of snake. She saw that look in his eyes, the one he was shining on me.
Suzy hides when she sees him with that look. But he always picks me. Even if she didn't hide I know he'd still pick me. But I'd hide too, if I was Suzy. My teeth are chattering.

He didn't expect this storm to come up. I know he didn't expect it or he wouldn't have brought me out here again. Not today. The clouds look like a big ocean. A big mad, gray ocean churnin' and smokin'.

He stopped beating his head. The thud, thud, thud went away and I didn't even know I was hearing it till it went away. There's blood on the door. A big smear of blood from him beatin' his head. As red as his coat. The smear goes down, down to the bottom of the door where his head's leaning now. I can't tell if he's breathin'. The wind's blowing too hard to hear. I hope he's not. I hope he's dead.

Snow's comin' now. Little bitty flakes blowing down from the ocean of sky. It's like the world's upside down. The sky's the ocean.

He's not dead. I hear him whimpering. Sounds like a little puppy. I have to listen real hard to hear through the wind. While ago he wasn't crying, he was yelling. Yelling his head off. After he'd done what he always does to me, pulling my coat open this time, pulling my dress up. I laid there on the seat looking up at the windows, all foggy, while he was doing it to me. While he was doing it I looked at the windows and wanted to write something. I don't know what I wanted to write. I wanted to feel something else, the cold on my fingers maybe. Or just slide my fingers through the fog on the windsheild and change it. Write my name, Martha.

I looked at the window the whole time, making my name there even when I couldn't touch it. Feeling the cold. Changing something. Then he finally was finished. But he did something different then. Usually when he's through, he goes away awhile, pulls his pants up and walks out in the woods. He never looks at me after he's done. But while ago, he didn't go out in the woods. He lifted me up and turned me over on the seat. He pushed my face down. I kicked him then. I don't know why. And I pushed myself past the old black steering wheel, across the cracked plastic seat cover, pushed the door open and fell out on the ground. Got up and ran. I thought he was following me. But when I ran aways and turned around, he was standing by the door pullin' up his pants. Then he slammed the door. But his hand was still in it. His one hand. That's when he started yelling.

Continue >>>

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 me."

Then I'd point up to the trees, skaking and moaning. I'd make sure she heard them.

"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."


Michael Smith is living in Tulsa (OK), USA. He has published before on the Internet and in print.

Notice © 1998 IP and the author

Page up

[Intercultural Platform] [Introduction] [Literature] [Gallery] [E-mail]

Copyright © Global Vision Platform / Adriaan Boiten     e-mail: webmaster

Find your way back to the Global Vision Platform Home Page