Stolen 3 (again)

“Just look at the state of you…you’re absolutely filthy…” I looked but aside from a few flecks of dirt underneath my fingernails there was nothing about my current state that warranted my mother’s accusation.

At eight years old I was perfectly capable of giving myself a bath but I was no longer human in my mother’s eyes. I could tell by the ferocity of the steam that the water was too hot. My mother was generally a mild-mannered woman but parties made her hysterical. She loved nothing better than to plan events but she was unable to enjoy them knowing that in those few hours all of her efforts at perfection would be nullified. I climbed into the bath of my own accord knowing that my mother was too frail to lift me. I said nothing. I cried a little to myself but I was careful not to make a sound. She scrubbed my boiled flesh without sympathy but I knew that she did not hurt me intentionally.

“Don’t throw me away…” I whispered underneath the terry cloth towel. I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to hear me but presumably she did. She hugged me for a long time and it seemed to me the towel around my shoulders grew wetter. She didn’t make any promises but I felt reasonably certain that if she ever did it wouldn’t be entirely of her own volition.

I ate my oatmeal alone that morning. My father left early and my mother wouldn’t eat again for several days having been forced to eat a few mouthfuls of cake at the party. As soon as my mother began her chores I would go into the garden and retrieve my treasure. I had until lunch time to discover the location of the door but I did not need it because I already knew.

I rarely went into the basement. I wasn’t sure if the sterility of the space made it any less scary but it was at least inhospitable to vermin. I stood for a long time in front of the door debating whether or not I should open it. I knew the room inside had to be large because there was a good deal of unaccounted for space. I tried to remember if I’d ever been inside but it seemed unlikely given the volume of my restrictions. This was my father’s room. A room that he disappeared into for hours at a time. He hadn’t been down here for nearly two months.

My father was a surgeon and therefore like my mother in regards to hygiene and housekeeping. I unlocked the door and stepped inside. The room was full of bookshelves lined with medical texts. There was a desk much like the one my father had in his upstairs office and a chair that was identical. There was a journal on top of the desk that looked exactly like the one he’d given me for my birthday, a plain leather-bound volume with no lock. Inside of the journal my father had sketched, in excruciating detail, the internal structures of the human body. There were other sketches, close ups that made me feel incomprehensibly squeamish but I could not understand their content. None of the drawings had faces. I supposed the faces were irrelevant. None of the entries were of a personal nature and although there were a number of notations accompanying each meticulously rendered image they were of a purely scientific and impersonal character.

There was no surgical equipment or specimen jars. There were no pickled body parts or metal tables with restraints. I was both relieved and disappointed. I opened every drawer in my father’s desk. They were filled with identical journals, the sketches and notations meant very little to me but I studied them carefully just the same. I perused the bookshelves taking out books at random but they were similar in content to my father’s personal notebooks. I knew the proper names for the bones but only just and I often forgot the bones of the face. I did not yet know the names of all the muscles. I knew the basic function of the organs but very little of their failings.

I opened a large chest, inside were bones labeled in my father’s tight, Gothic script. I picked up the skull. I understood that it was real but I wasn’t frightened. Flesh was what made corpses scary, decomposition. These bones were all clean and only vaguely human to my mind. They seemed to belong to the same person as there were no duplicates and only one identification number on the lid of the chest. The chest beside it was different. The bones were smaller. I did not know if the bones were from a woman or an adolescent. The chest beside that one had a set of intact bones. The full skeleton of an infant. I did not dare remove them lest they come apart in my hands. The disproportionately large cranium seemed nearly as large as the skull in the first case, I was not sure that it belonged to the same body but my father did not make mistakes. There seemed to be other anomalies in the head but I could not identify the source of the deviations. The eye orbits were too narrow for the organs they were meant to contain. The arms were only rudimentary. Though only a small fleshless creature I found it repulsive, not even pitiable, just repulsive. The first two chests had been marked with numbers but this skeleton had a name “Elizabeth”. I closed the chest, heart writhing I glanced at the final chest but could not bring myself to open it.

 

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Stolen 2 (again)

I had an inkling as to the location of the door but I would have to wait until my father was at work to begin my investigation. I left the library using an alternate exit to avoid confrontation. I would have to hide the key when time afforded but at the moment I had no alternative but to rejoin the celebration.

Dinner was painful. I watched my mother cut her food into progressively smaller pieces. She rearranged her food, now thoroughly dimensionless, into careful piles. She created illusions of absence. She ate nothing but air. My mother did most of the talking. She talked on behalf of everyone. I could feel her voice tearing at the back of my throat every time I opened my mouth. I could feel her eyes in my skull, like two hooks. ‘Shut up. Shut up. You’ll ruin everything.’ She spoke to me with her hands. She tugged my sleeve under the table. I spoke only when addressed. I spoke in monosyllables and euphemisms. After dinner there was a short recess. I spent my recess in the shadow of my classmates. “Your mother is very thin. Is she sick?” One of the girls remarked off-handedly. “Oh no, she just can’t put on weight. She has a high…” I trailed off a high what? What was I meant to say? The girl waited impatiently. “Standard…” I had heard the words high and standard linked frequently in conversation.

“Well alright then…” The girl shrugged. She didn’t care enough to press me. I searched my mind in vain for the word.

//

When I entered the kitchen I could tell by my mother’s expression that she had noted, if only just, my presence. Her hand alighted on my shoulder like a frightened bird and she took, what I imagined was, the last breath of the evening. I had prepared an excuse for my unexpected intrusion but it proved unnecessary.

“There you are Eli! Come now it’s time to cut the cake…” She maneuvered me toward the large banquet table in the center of the dining hall. She had tears in her voice.

There were three cakes, one vanilla, one strawberry, and one chocolate presented precisely in that order. It had been determined, after much consideration, that vanilla was my favorite. Strawberry suggested vanity. Chocolate suggested avarice. Vanilla was prudent and therefore the only acceptable choice, I would not even be permitted to sample the other flavors.  If it really was that easy to alter a man’s nature then why hadn’t my parents taken more care with their own diets? Why did my father drink? Why did my mother refuse to eat?

My mother pressed the handle of the knife into my outstretched hand, but she was not permitted to guide the blade. I watched her take her seat, her knitted brows drawing out the terror in her smile. For this occasion I was permitted to sit at the head of the table, a designation I neither deserved nor desired. The guests, which existed purely for their own benefit, appeared sewn into their chairs. I stood motionless above the cake. The cake might well have been a body of flesh and blood and I might well have been a recruit in service to an unprincipled war. I swallowed but the lump in my throat could not be dislodged. “Well don’t just stand there Elijah.” My father barked. I slid the blade shakily through the cake. When it was my mother’s turn, I watched her delicately shave away a slice. Paper-thin. Borderline transparent.

///

I buried the key beneath my mother’s favorite rose bush. She was in the kitchen, embroiled in a war which offered no hope of formal resolution. She would scrub each dish until her fingers were raw from heat and persistence. Once clean she would drop them into the trash one by one, like the shells of discarded eggs. No one dared intercept her pathos and no one dared name it but the cause was obvious. My father retired to his study, drink in hand, he would not speak again until breakfast.

I had been careful not to kneel in the dirt and with my sleeves rolled up past the elbows I believed myself impervious to filth. Against my naked forearms the air was as sharp as a briefly applied cigarette. Not for an external chill but such was the shock of my violation. I had wanted for very little in my short life and had asked for far less but this key held the culmination of all those secret leanings. I patted the earth carefully knowing that my mother would detect the slightest disturbance. If she were for some reason vexed by the sight of the topsoil she might extract the entire plant. The thought that she could kill something she loved to appease her illness frightened me and though I’d never voiced my fear I often worried that my own eccentricities might invite a similar fate.

Stolen 1 (again)

(This is a story I started writing some months ago. I posted several sections. I am working on it again trying to flesh it out. Trying to make sense of it all.)

The abyss exists within each of us, though it is perhaps more commonly referred to as ego. I is hungry. I is the reason that absence is so heavy. Some would make of their absences a grave, others would fill them by whatever means necessary. I am guilty of both. It is true what they say about regret. I regret most the atrophy of my heart through omission. I should have been more honest with my feelings, a man can’t live on justifications alone.

 

All memories are subject to embellishment and decay. Do not expect my story to adhere to chronology as you may be given to understand it. I write as though insane, I write as my memories surface. Do not take my words for truth. My words reflect only my interpretation of events. There are those that would silence me/challenge me but they are dead now. Literally. Figuratively. My wounds are deep, my judgments biased. What I am about to tell you won’t make any sense and if it does make sense then you have my deepest condolences.

//

My 8th birthday was more facade than celebration. A bit of posturing for my mother’s sake, as she had so little else besides. The children from my class were all invited but it was not for my company that they came. They came because their parents willed it. My father was a respected member of the community. He wasn’t simply a doctor, he was the only doctor for miles. He was an unpleasant man behind closed doors but faced with an audience he was intolerable. I knew the jest of his portrayal. My father held society in the highest contempt. He played the game but only because it forced others to acknowledge his superiority. I understood, to some degree, his false participation. I was accustomed to it but I did not care for either version and feared them both equally.

 

My social ineptitude was considered a betrayal to my parents who took great pains to secure their reputation. They spared me public humiliation but this omission in discipline was not out of consideration for my blighted ego. They simply did not want to draw attention to their own failings.

 

My classmates did not attempt to engage me in play during the party or afterwards. They saw me only as a repository for gifts. Their gifts were impersonal and superfluous. I opened them with a smile so tight that I felt my jaw would weld itself shut from friction. I did not seek their friendship. I was content to speculate at their games and the conversations of the adults meandering mindlessly around the room but all the while I was alone.

 

The room was not dressed for my benefit. There were decorations but they might as well have been stars. They hung fragile and out of reach. My mother too was like a star. Beautiful. Distant. Dead. Her cold fingers dug into my arm as she paraded me around the room. Every now and then she stopped to tidy my hair or to straighten my clothes. “Oh Eli please don’t wrinkle your suit.”. “Keep your hands out of your hair…you’ll ruin it.”. “Why are your hands sticky? The candy is for the guests. I hope no one saw you eating. Please tell me you were discreet?” Her eyes burned the top of my forehead. My mother went to great pains to avoid my eye contact.

“No one saw me Mummy.” I lied. Even had I been able to define discreet, the concept of discretion was beyond my comprehension.

“Well thank God for that…dinner will be served at 19:00 please try to be patient.” I nodded. My stomach growled. My mother blanched and then gathered herself together. “When we are finished greeting the guests I’ll give you an apple. If you promise to stay out of the way.” She started to tug my arm but I remained fixed. My face began to contort. I wanted to cry. None of the guests had shown the slightest interest or consideration for me. Wasn’t this my party? Wasn’t I meant to feel special? What I felt in actuality was shame. Shame for getting in the way. Shame at the notion that my party would be ruined if I was “seen” by the guests after its official commencement. I thought for a long time with my face screwed up. I didn’t cry. My features relaxed. My mother took a breath so deep it looked like she was having a seizure.

“You won’t even know I am here.” My smile wobbled a little before falling.

“That’s a good boy…” My mom shoved me in front of the next visitor. I shook his hand as I had been taught but I had to look to my mother for the words. I had forgotten what it was I was supposed to say. My mother mouthed the words to me. I decided to ad lib. “My name is Elijah.” I leaned in, the old man stooped. “I’m not supposed to be here.” I told him matter-of-factly. The man pushed a gift into my hands. “I won’t tell anyone that I’ve seen you then.” He assured me in confidence. He greeted my mother coldly and something in his coldness warmed my heart.

 

I do not know when I retreated to the library but it was not conscious insubordination as so little of what I did at that age was premeditated. To be the guest of honor in a room full of strangers was a loneliness more imposing to me than my own volitional exile. I took out a leather-bound volume at random. I had my own books but I had read them all and worn them bare in repetition. The library was locked, save for when we had company, and this had been my only occasion to enter for several months. During parties I often came in secret but to come here during my own party, where my attendance was mandatory/albeit pointlessly passive, went beyond risk. Taking a seat I opened the book in the middle expecting to find only words as my father did not care for fanciful stories. What I found instead was a compartment and in that compartment there was a large, brass key in a style that was faintly familiar. I placed the key in my trouser pocket and closed the book returning it hastily to the shelf. I could not risk being discovered, to be discovered now would deprive me of a singular opportunity. I was going to have an adventure, there could be no better gift. The sound of footsteps set me blindly into motion.

Audience

webcam-toy-photo2

I assemble myself in the dark

A mime before the looking glass

What poor taste to xerox my pain,

What poor taste to smile

In a dead woman’s face.

Each frame haunts me

Like the reels of suffering

Used to kill a soldier’s conscious

If I hold these eyes too long

My soul will disappear

There is no photographer

More adept than a mirror

And no devil more sought.

 

It’s funny how we pay strangers

To listen to the stories

That we were not meant to tell

Though it doesn’t benefit them

And perhaps diminishes their faith

I sat across from you with my terror

Pinched between my bare knees

And some days I am only a little girl

But you are not my mother

Not my warden, you are a ladder

That I cannot climb, a need

That I do not wish to acquire.

 

I will not give myself to any man

I’ll live alone spinning whatever it is

That spinsters spin.

There are bats in the eaves

A whole colony of them

They punctuate my silences

With their shrill chirps

I have nothing to say

But the words come regardless

This is my hell to showcase

My scars for an audience

That will never know me wholly

This is my curse

And I endure it , not as a martyr,

For there is no payment

That could compare to my art

Nothing that compares to the rush

Of the grave filling up around me.

 

These black hieroglyphs

Scatter across the paper

The itching

The thirst for blood

That is my calling

Layer after layer

And always another

Beneath

I cannot achieve

The depth

Of my predecessors

The worms gag my mouth

A currency, a delicacy

These necrophiliacs

They alone

Understand me.

 

If I knew my power

Would I employ it?

To what end?

To what end?

Are we all

Muses at our core?

You may call me Galatea

You may love me as stone

From a distance

And you are my opus

The one who remains

Long after I’ve gone

Spreading my seed

My terrible legacy

The dream of dreams

Our dream

A place of hearts.

*

I staged the photo with my webcam but Isadora took it. She had to time it just when the light was perfect in the mirror she did a good job XD Encase you are wondering that is not a deer head Sam made art with the handlebars of an old bike so it looks like horns. Her b-day is tomorrow so I won’t be around as much.

Stolen (part 4)

HR Giger

 HR Giger

I remember very little of my fourth birthday but where memory wanes I have comparison. My birthdays were always a spectacle though my preferences were seldom present in the presentation. There were balloons on this occasion but they were merely for display and I was not permitted to touch them. I was not permitted to touch anything as my mother’s entire life was mandated by the illusion of perfection.

My gifts were opened by my mother lest I shred the wrapping paper or sever the ribbons that she loved to save. I remember that year I received a set of building blocks, several books, and a wooden xylophone. I sat on the oriental rug by the fire running the mallet contently over the bars. I had two cousins of approximately the same age and they sat beside me playing with blocks. I cannot recall what happened to them only that they did not attend subsequent birthdays and were spoken of only in hushed tones after. I had found them tolerable. Friends of a sort. They came for biweekly visits prior to that night. We took swimming classes together, so I am told.

“Come now Eli…there’s someone I want you to meet..she’s traveled all the way from Windspur just for you…” I did not know then what Windspur implied but it seemed to me the sort of place where elves might live. I had no doubt that elves existed and it was this unwavering belief that probably led my father to remove fanciful books from my bedtime story rotation. Needless to say I was excited.

“Please don’t make a fuss when you see her Eli…there’s no reason to be scared…she’s your great grandmother and she’s really looking forward to meeting you…” I turned my brave beaming face up to meet my mothers. “Does that mean I am an elf too mummy?” My mother looked positively aghast. “Come now Eli…” My mother tugged my arm impatiently. I felt my smile fall but could not retrieve it.

I stood behind mother. I had never seen a wheelchair before and it both frightened and intrigued me. “That’s a funny looking bicycle…how come she gets to have a bicycle inside mummy?” I asked but my mother did not have the time to provide an explanation.

“Come here child let me touch your face…” The voice startled me and I ducked further behind my mother’s minuscule frame.

“Go on Eli…otherwise she can’t see you…” My mother’s words brought no comfort but the push she gave me from behind forced me forward just the same. I tried to back away but my mother stood there immobile, her features pinched. I stepped up to the chair. “Take my hand child…” I couldn’t find a hand. The woman’s arms were hidden under her sleeves. I looked up at the woman’s unfinished face and started crying.

“Eli don’t be rude…” My mother’s hand clamped over the pulse in my wrist. “She d-doesn’t h-have…e-eyes m-mummy…” I stammered. My mother knelt down in front of me, holding my shoulders in the crux of her emaciated hands. Her expression had softened. She didn’t want to create a scene and my crying had alarmed her.

“She’s blind Eli…that’s all it is…there’s nothing to worry about…” And then leaning forward she whispered her next words into my ear.

“Some elves are born underground….”

“Like a mole mummy?” I liked animals so this seemed an acceptable comparison and was not intended in offense.

“Yes like that Eli…her hands too so she can dig…and the chair is because she can’t walk so good above ground…” I suppose my mother knew me very well to risk making up such a creepy story, that are she was desperate.

My mother led me back to the chair and this time I picked up the old woman’s hand emboldened by my curiosity. Her hands were like shovels and I could barely distinguish the bones for all the webbing between. There were no fingers as such.

“Mummy doesn’t let me play in the dirt…” I commented hoping perhaps for sympathy. The woman let out a distressed wheeze that might have been a laugh.

“Well you don’t have shovels for hands…” The woman replied without discernible emotion, apparently she was not hard of hearing. I looked up at my mother who looked as if she’d just met the proverbial boogeyman in the closest.

“Don’t be scared mummy…she only looks like a monster…” The old woman began again, her terrible empty laugh like an echo burying into the lengths of my bones. I could not tell if she was happy or sad until she patted my hand reassuringly and made a grimace which I took to be a smile.

*

I wasn’t satisfied with this one and I might erase it my mind and emotions wonder so when I write stories!