Floating Smile

You wake, bathed in sweat, breathing hard and not wanting to remember where you are.

Though you do.

The room is pitch black. Not an inch of light slips through any crack.

Rubbing the sleep from your eyes you try to remember the day, or the month.

They don’t come. It’s Wednesday all the time, hump day.

Bits and pieces of the dream that woke you come slipping back. Something about Tentacles, and pushing, and inserting, and grasping, and choking, and punching and breath escaping a mouth raspy and ragged. It’s not a new dream. It’s an every night thing. A routine you have no control over.

Swinging your feet from under the covers you are not surprised to feel cold rough concrete under them as they touch the floor. Adjusting to the dark you spot the television and stand to turn it on.

Every joint hurts. Every muscle screams. You rub your stomach and wonder how some people do this three or more times in their life.

Pulling the little knob the room is flooded in white light and white fuzz and white noise. You switch the channel and get more of the same. Raising the volume gives you a sense that life exists in the room. Everything feels so quiet so fragile without it. Any excess on your part could pull it apart at the seams. This noise holds it all together for you.

Your stomach growls for two and angry when you spot the food you didn’t eat last night. It was a pay off. No food, no cobwebs clogging up the processes in your brain. NO fumbling to do simple tasks, no fight left in you when the time comes.

Though you still feel the effects of what ever you’ve been ingesting with your meals with the thumping headache. You’re semi sober for the first time in months.

Crawling back under the covers you somehow find something interesting to stare at in the white fuzz.

An eerie sensation begins to grow. It suggests you’ve forgot about something, something important, something that can’t wait.

You can’t place your finger on it. Its there like a word on the tip of your tongue you know you are going to mispronounce.

Then the garage is filled with the sound of a car badly in need of something mechanical done to it, you remember what it is you forgot.

You jet to your feet, fluid streaming down your legs, and the lack of any idea of what to do wrestling with your sanity.

You round the room allowing a low moan to escape your lips. You can’t fight it once it arrives, you’ll be flat on your back once again.

Your feet move faster. The circle gets wider. You bump into the TV and it falls. Just as it crashes to the floor the early morning news comes on. The sound of happy voices scratches at your skin. You grip the soft spongy walls and tear. You are surprised to see a window beneath so you keep tearing revealing it all. You allow the spongy stuff to drape down and grip the window and try to push it up.

A cool breeze strikes you in the face. A smile. A simple smile rips through your frown.

***

He stands in the doorway to the kitchen hands deep inside the pockets of his jeans, eyes glued to the floor. It’s his fault. If he can avoid it, there is no way he will own up.

He can feel her eyes on him, they make him sweat.

She pushes the kitchen chair back with a vicious scrape. He looks up as she pushes past him and the metal folding chair teeters then falls with a crash. Behind him the door to the garage is thrown open with the sound of dented drywall. He can hear her feet smack bare against the concrete as she searches the empty space.

He can imagine the space, he set it up. It is nothing more then a dank dungeon filled with a mixture of his smell the smells of copulation, pregnancy, fear and a thin taste like blood on the air maybe even a touch of piss. He deemed it secure, and felt proud to say so.

Now only a soiled twin size mattress set up against a wall, a tray of uneaten soy patties shoved full of crushed 30 milligram oxycodines and a shattered glass of spilt milk spiked with half a pint of Kahlua sit alone.

The small black and white TV they gave the girl for comfort was on its side blaring the morning news when he walked in to “check.”

He hears the bare trot of her chubby feet as they reach the exit of the garage. He tries to come up with an excuse. Something plausible to escape what he is sure will be bad. Then from behind him comes the attack.

“You mother fucker,” the woman hollers.

He flinches.

“You told me you fixed it so not even Houdini could escape that room. You remember those words?” she says her voice ebbing from sharp hostility to a soft calm that frightens him even more.

He remembers saying them, and on the verge of admitting it he is surprised to find himself on his knees looking at the cheap, dirt and food stained tile in the kitchen. A vague memory of a clang rings in his ears. Small spots of red drip onto the floor. They grow into a puddle. He is confused. The room spins, and his head begins to ache. Dark splotches form at the corners of his eyes.

A clatter off to his right is the bed pan he had placed in the garage. The worst part of his deal as keeper was emptying that.

He wonders why it looks malformed.

He feels a foot on his ass give a shove and he falls forward into the puddle. He curses the ruin of his white work shirt.

“Nine months!”

He feels his hair being griped in an iron fist and jerked back.

“And this happens now!”

As his neck goes the distance it can in that direction she enters his field of sight. Upside down, with strands of hair snapping loose from his scalp he is looking into the fat anger contorted face of his girlfriend.

“Don’t you want me to be a mother?”

He meets her muted green eyes giving off an aura of rigidness. Her lips are trembling, her cheeks quiver, her eyes bulge.

“You know what this means right?” She says almost cooing.

Another question he need not answer.

“You understand where this puts me? Puts us?”

He tries to nod that he does.

She lets loose his hair and he falls forward. His head clears a little. He feels her wipe her hand on his back and wonders why. His forehead feels wet he reaches to wipe it and pulls his hand away red and it dawns on him why the bed pan was dented.

“You hit me.” he quivers.

She does not respond, only steps over him. He watches her quaking dimpled thighs move over to the microwave. She opens it, removes a biscuit and taking half into her mouth.

With crumbs falling from her open maw she says, sweet as sugar, “Get up, get out and look for her.”

Her syrupy words get him going. Climbing to his knees he fights to stay awake. “I need to change my shirt.”

“Now!”

The word vibrates his world, though it is ordered in no more then a whisper. It fades slowly as he scrambles to his feet, swaying unsteady and pushing off the hallway wall to stay erect.

He turns and staggers down the hall reaching for the car keys dangling on the hook by the front door.

“Leave the keys; I need to go to work.”

Almost making the mistake of becoming angry he turns to see her shove the remaining biscuit into her mouth and reach with both fists fake belly draped over the counter in front of her.

He grabs the front door knob, twists and walks backward through it.

In the predawn dark he turns left on the street and under a street lamp two blocks away he spots a half naked pregnant girl. With a hack of resolution his feet pick up speed and as close to running as he will get gives chase.

***

The sky to the east is on fire, smoky wisps of cloud flutter about the rising sun. Your pink unicorn t-shirt stretched out by the weight of sweat reveals your nubby breasts.

Blood drips from your crotch.

You are barefoot. Your toes are black, cut up even, you feel the sting of pebbles as you plant your foot for another step. You are running on a busy road. You run. Bare feet hating every step. You’re on auto pilot. Close to here is the big bridge.

You veer to it.

You start over it.

Halfway across you cut through traffic not caring if you get hit or not. With difficulty you struggle over a fence in the middle, a sharp sting to your wrist from a twist of metal on top makes it real. He is after you. He wants you back. From the top of the fence you jump.

Six feet up you land with the force of your body weight. You recover fast, back onto your feet ignoring the twinge of wrong in your belly.

You grab the first rung above your head. You step next and pull your self up. How you manage to pull that belly along will forever remain a mystery.

Motivation.

You must really want this freedom.

So you climb.

One rung at a time. As you go higher the world you know below disappears, replaced by a toy version of its self. The audible hum of radial band tires and the occasional squeal of unexpected braking seem so real, you are not hidden from it behind two tons of metal, your living it, right there ear drums vibrating at a crazy pace.

The higher you go the more intense the wind becomes, your grip is iron on the rungs. You look below into the swirling lights thrown from cars. Did you see him? Was he moments behind? Wheezing at the effort to catch you, like he did moments from ejaculating? You think about falling. That move would have ended one life, but the question of where would it have put you, drives you on.

You stop to catch your breath. The air stabs into your lungs like small needles. Parting your lips for that simple painful swallow of air spreads a freshly scabbed cut lip you don’t remember getting. The taste of your own blood raises goose flesh on your arms making you feel tight.

You can’t help but consider stopping even so near the beginning of your trek. But from behind you like an opposite magnetic pole your assailant pushes you forward. You can even feel the phantom grasp of his hand on your ankle.

You look up and see that platform you had secretly decided to go to from the ground. Same one as everyone else. It seems so far away, doesn’t it, just too far above. Your arms are on the verge of giving out, shaking even from this effort. The wind is so cold. It whips around you wanting to catch hold of you and throw you itself from the bridge.

That would be unacceptable; this has to be your doing. This is your deal. Your ending.

From across the bay you see the orange glow from the lights in the city. Somewhere out there are people whose lives you changed just by being alive. You don’t know that though. You have always felt invisible. A disposable human. A cheap VCR bought for a years worth of uses then thrown into the dumpster after the first band breaks.

What makes the climb hell is the belly you have to reach your arms around. Its huge and hard. Worse it feels alive with the occasional unexpected bulge. Fighting through the exhaustion you close your eyes and the over whelming sense of a heart beat enters your head.

The heart beat talks to you, begs you to reconsider, but you chide it back again with a silent prayer: but this is for you. I am doing this for you, only for you. This is not for me this is for you.

Opening your eyes you reach for the next rung and grab hold. The metal feels colder then any of the others before. Your finger clench and you lift your right foot to catch the next rung. You stand. You repeat the procedure, twice more then it becomes unbearable. The conversation in your head becomes too loud. The pleading heart beat will not cease. It continues too beg.

You hear a child’s voice behind it, a voice without understanding. A voice beyond reason.

How can I convince you? You beg. Why don’t you get this is for you. I was not meant to have you. I will not be your mother if I do.

Small tears escape your eyes and roll down your cheeks leaving ice cold trails. The world blurs as more follow, you try to wipe your eyes on your shoulder, only spreading the cold saline around. The voiceless pleading continues.

It’s too much, the pressure is too great. It has to end.

Maybe from here you decide.

Looking down the world seems far away, but still not far enough. Or maybe it’s just the distance between you and him that doesn’t seem far enough.

The fluttering hair below seems to know no exhaustion. He reaches mechanically. He climbs. He is gaining. Move!

You body is begging for a reprieve and you promise it soon enough. Soon enough you will get a break.

You are no rookie to pain. Your entire life has been one session of sadistic madness after another. One beating after another. One fondling after another. One rape after another. One day without food after another till the point you thought you would die of hunger, then a something would arrive through the gap in the door. Fresh and hot and bubbly or not wouldn’t matter. You’d scarf it down and life would feel good. Nothing would matter, but that was a torture also wasn’t it? It gave you hope. A longing for something that you could not control. For a brief shinning moment it gave you happiness. That was worse, beyond the locked door, beyond the rapes and the beatings; the waiting, the waiting for the moment of happiness to return again, like an oscillating fan on a humid still day.

You reach for the next rung and raise your foot. The intense itching in your muscles is replaced by a weighted feel. That in turn is replaced by a feeling of failure. You labor now to raise your arms, your feet catch under the rung they strive for.

Failure is eminent!

But this is the last rung.

You are surprised when your hand is on the platform. You are elated when your belly is above the line of your target. You cry with joy when your foot has scampered onto the metal mesh.

The crunch of bird guano under your hands and knees raises bile to your throat.

The platform seems to wave under your weight, you are fearful it might fall. Let it you decide. I am here for one thing. You climb to your feet and scan the horizon. The sun is high now above the empty cold grey bay. You look down and see hundreds of feet of nothing ending in a collection of pilings. You wonder if you could avoid them, but decide; it doesn’t matter.

You step to the edge, your bare toes dangle over the abyss. You feel the weight of gravity.

Just before you fling the rest of your self off a fist grips your upper arm and pulls you back to your past. Cold blue eyes blink away sweat dripping from the blood stained forehead. You scream and flail your free arm striking him with palm and nails on the head and face. You lift both feet and dangle from his grip, but only for a moment before your one hundred and sixty five pound body slips free.

It’s surprising this feeling of flight. Pure ecstasy. You forget for a moment that there will be an end. You forget that you have been given your cousins baby. You forget that you are fourteen going on dead. You forget that the water is going to feel like concrete when your body hits it.

You flip over in mid flight and with a lucky glance see your cousin slip from the same platform. A lasting smile forms as your body shatters against the water.


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