Thought I’d share another piece of found writing today. I wrote this piece in about 15 minutes. It was the deadline for the WCDR Whispered Words Short Story Contest…and I wanted to get something in. Mostly, I was thinking I’d support the organization that has done so much for my writing career. I really didn’t think anything would come of the entry. I had procrastinated to the finish line, and time was ticking away. WRITE-SUBMIT-READ. That was the genesis of this piece. To my surprise, it made the anthology! This was published in 2011.
The subject matter is a little delicate. It’s a story about sexual abuse…but it’s not very blatant about the subject matter. It’s written in dialect, and from the first-person POV of an 8-year-old boy.
Before we go to the story, if you’re in the Durham Region area–or the GTA, for that matter–it would be worth your time to look into the WCDR!
Here it is:
Momma said Angie had to go be with Gramps on accounta Gramps’s glaucoma. But I know in my heart that’s not what the truth of it is. Angie didn’t like Gramps enough to follow him around for all eternity just so he won’t bumpity bump into tables and trip over curbsides. Angie didn’t like Gramps none at all. She just died ‘cause she died. That’s all there is to it.
Besides, if her eyes was so good and twenty-twenty and all that, she wouldna walked offa that rock and into the falls way she did. Angie been spending her whole waking life trippin’ and fallin’ over things. If that Jesus fella thought he’d better get a body up there to help ole Gramps walk around inside all that Heaven, you’d think he’d pick a somebody who didn’t always hurt theyselves just walkin’.
Angie mighta even done it to get away from all the badness, too. I know I been thinkin’ ‘bout that Heaven place and wonderin’ if it be the place for me and all that too. I just don’t know if I’d have the courage Angie had to walk off the world and into all that water, way she done.
Angie always protectin’ me against Daddy, saying, “boys don’t need no trouble way you got trouble. Don’t forget, Toby, it’s a secret you keep to save yo’self. Ain’t got nothin’ to do with helpin’ Daddy. We don’t evah needs to be helping out Daddy.”
I’m sure she’s up there in the Heaven place thinking she left me down here t’meself with all this trouble, and now times two without her to share it. But she just couldna tooken it no more. She didn’t fall down those waters for the fun of it, nor did she trip. And fo the love of Jesus Please-us, she ain’t never done a thing for Gramps but complain about the smells of his feet when he kept them too close to the fire and they got all the stink all cooked up to fill the house. No. She just hadda ‘nough of Daddy. One can take only so much ‘fore they crack like glass. You whisper all yo life and soon enough it comes to a scream and you ain’t never able to stop it then. Only thing left is ta flung youself from the falls and hope the landin’ take ya to Jesus.
Angie gone now almost a year or so. I remember when she whispered in my ear at night, “Toby, everything’s gonna be ok. Sun’ll come, Tobs. Sun’ll come. Always comes the next day and takes the night away.” I remember the tickle on my lobe ‘cause her mouth was too close and the wetness of her words ticklin’ down deep and cold. I sure did like that. It calmed me down sompin’ awful.
Now I’m eight I can take after my own self, but I sometimes ask Momma maybe Gramps done need another hand to walk him through all that Heaven. She just say, “Don’t leave me, Toby. Don’t leave yo Momma with that man. That’s not fair or right. We in this ta-gether.” I don’t know why I has to be in it with her. I didn’t choose him. I didn’t make the marriage agreement with all the death-do-parts and no-mans-put-us-unders.
I ain’t never signed on to do the things with Daddy that he always be asking me to do. Tellin’ me to do. And that whisky breath near enough to make me drunk and stupid just like him. I know Angie be up there in Heaven some nights shoutin’ down, “Sun’ll come, Tobs. Sun’ll come. You just wait and see.” But it ain’t never come no more. Not with her not here to help fight him off when he get like that. He has more hands than a octopus. He just take what he want from ole Toby now. I been sleepin’ in the closet, but he know where I’m hidin’ mostly. He know where to find ole Toby when the Devil got him all liqueured up and ready to play with fire. Hands movin’ so fast, cain’t hardly keep them offa me.
I just have ta remember to whisper this stuff to no one and wait for maybe Angie’s words to brush past my ear like a tickle and tell me everything be okay in the mornin’.
Momma says Daddy’s gettin’ all better lately. Been smiling and even one time with whistling when he comin’ in from work at the mill. But she just foolin’ herself way she always done. He ain’t nothin’ but evil. Nothin’ good comes from a man who done that to his own kids. That’s what Gram once said ‘bout ole Gramps ‘fore he up and died off like bad wood gone to rot. Yeah, Angie gonna follow that man to help him from fallin’ up in Heaven. I believe that like I believe the day’ll come when Daddy get’s all better. Ain’t never gonna happen.
I know what. If I ever decide not to fall down those waters, I ain’t never gonna do that to my kids. Ain’t wantin’ my boy to get told in whispers that the sun’ll come up in the mornin’ and take all that darkness away. ‘Cause that’s a lie and nothin’ but. The sun comes up. It does. But it ain’t never took the darkness back. That’s there always.
Even Angie knowed that all those things she said to make my days go better were nothin’ but whispered words. Whispered words that tickled my ear and made me just for a second giggle and forget. I think that why she done it all the time. Makin’ me tickle was her way to take away the madness and make it all more better. But it ain’t better now. Not with Angie gone ass over the teakettle over them falls. I ain’t even got her whispered words on my earlobe no more. I only got myself. Then, that all I need. Sun’ll come, Tob.
CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE OR SEXUAL ABUSE HELP?
RAINN INTERNATIONAL SEXUAL ABUSE RESOURCES
NATIONAL SEXUAL ABUSE HOTLINE: 1-800-656-HOPE