Friday, September 28, 2007

Alice- In the Tolgey Wood

We’re in Gym class when it happens. Standing in line, dressed in that strange bright yellow uniform, and listening to Mz. Feinlin give elaborate instructions on how to properly execute a jumping jack, because we’re apparently all assholes who can’t get it right.

We’ve been a little crampy this morning, not enough to cause concern, but this is a sudden, deep searing, pain. It rips through our abdomen and causes me to double over, bringing visions to our mind of a giant, using his big meaty hands to squeeze our insides, sending me into a cold sweat, setting our whole world ablaze.

Alice…” Her name spills from my lips as the tears spill from my eyes; a Pavlovian response to the pain, Alice always takes the pain. But Alice isn’t coming; I can hear her laughter as I move, still crouching, toward the locker room. Mz. Fienlin is at my side, her big man-hands on my shoulders, worry thickening her deep german accent. With some confusion I understand that she wants me to lie down in her office, something about a cot there, and a cool towel.

As I enter the locker room she’s motioning to Silvie to go with me. Poor little Silvie Jacobs looks panic stricken; Mz. Feinlin doesn’t know that Silvie’s scared of me, Silvie doesn’t know that it’s Alice she’s really scared of. She also doesn’t know that she has no reason to fear Alice, Alice likes Silvie. There’s something about that untidy brown hair and too big glasses Alice finds endearing.

“Um… Layla?” Silvie’s voice is cracking; she looks lost in her clothes. They’re rumpled, like they’ve been jammed in the bottom of a back pack, and are so baggy they look like they were bought for someone else, all Silvie’s clothes look that way, it’s why Lucy Sumner and the rest of the cheerleaders won’t give the poor girl a second’s peace, Silvie thinks I’m one of them because I’m a cheerleader, too. It’s guilt by association, but who can blame her, really?

“Yeah?” Lips pursed and breathing heavy, little droplets of sweat flying from my mouth as I answer.

“Here.” She presses a cool towel into my hand; I push my face into it, welcoming the cold cloth against my fevered forehead. I’m trying my hardest to call to Alice in my mind, begging her to come and take the pain. Silvie half helps, half rolls me onto the cot, I have enough time to force a deep breath and a slight smile of thanks before that sadistic giant wraps his hands around my abs and rips my insides to bits.

Rolling back off of the cot and crawling, with shaking limbs, I barely make it to the bathroom and into the handicap stall before the blood lets loose across my thighs. With the site of it, comes that sweet release on my exhale, Alice has come, at last, to save me.


I let Layla take the first part of the pain because she needed it. I knew it was coming. My smiling Lord has made me stronger since that first beautiful night, a gift for pleasing its need. When I come to take the pain for Layla, I use this new gift, I send her completely away. I see her, in our mind crawling, between the walls in our old house, to that special place only we knew about; I make her hide there. The pain I let her feel makes her grateful to do it.

Layla’s internal giant begins to push its poison from our body; deep cramps force my breathing into shallow gasps the pain is coming in waves now. I pull myself up, hugging the toilet, reaching in to bring some of the cold water in the bowl to my skin. There is a deep pulling from within me as the thing inside finally breaks loose and finds its way out of my body. There is a soft, wet splash on the tile as it comes to rest between my knees.

Sweet Silvie is just outside the stall and hears the small thud made by the dead thing as it lands. I hear her gasp, telling me she’s peaked under the door, she knows what was happening, just like I’ve known for weeks now that it would.

I figured it out while I was in control, making plans to silence that cur in the park. The blood wasn’t coming when it was supposed to, and the calendar confirmed. For weeks, every night, while Layla slept, I worked the pressure points at the insides of our hips, first fingers of both hands pressing deep, trying to choke our ovaries, to end the thing inside us.

It lays there, now in its puddle of blood, that salty wine covering what would have been a face, if given time. A life that has never been is not the same as one that I have taken; this fleshy blob will not make a good gift for my grinning God, and therefore will not have a place with my other treasures.

Coming back together, using the locker room showers to clean my body and free my mind, I decide on the next step. Dressing, and telling Silvie to get back into street clothes, I take her hand, without another word, and lead her off campus, a few blocks from the school to a park nearby. Unlike the park by our house there are no willow trees here, just a few medium sized apple trees, and one old and gnarled oak.

This park stands near the center of town, and this tree has to have stood for nearly a hundred years. The roots are as thick as your arm and sticking up in places, crisscrossing on themselves, leaving you with the impression of knotted ropes. Up close to the trunk there is a place where the roots entangle; with a little imagination you can see the shape of a heart. Layla and I found it when we were little, and as far as we can tell, we’re the only ones who know that if you lift carefully from the center point of the heart and slide the roots to the left, there is a hollow in the trunk beneath it.

Silvie catches my eye as I reach for my bag, she’s confused by my silence, and moves her mouth as though to speak, I hold a finger to her lips and pull the package free. I’d long been keeping my pot stash in my gym locker, to keep the Mommy’s thieving hands off of it. Away from Silvie’s curious eyes, I’d emptied the blue aluminum box into my bag and placed the fetus, wrapped carefully in bandages from Mz. Feinlin’s first aide kit, inside. For close to three months this thing had tried to live inside me, the fleshy result of it’s attempt is not longer than three inches and the weight of the bandages swaddling it are more than that of the thing itself.

I hear Silvie gasp as I lean close and kiss the lid, before placing the box, carefully inside the tree. There is a new kind of pain in this action, something so much more real than any pain I’ve ever felt. As the tears spring from my eyes and make their salty tracks I realize the difference in this pain is that it comes from within. The wound that has caused it is not something one can dress, or suture, it is the pain of a human soul, and it is entirely new to me.

1 comment:

Corinna said...

Interesting to know.