Once there was a little girl who was made out of paper. On the inside she was all empty and missing and gone, but on the outside people had stuck pictures and stories and questions and lies and truths and more stories about how they thought she was and what they thought she was like and they just kept putting more and more on until she had a nice paper shell on, all made out of what everyone else thought and felt and said about her. And she lived all alone, and she kept out of storms, because all the loud noises and yelling and words could tear pieces right out of her paper shell and just let it go it flying off into the wind and she’d never get it back, even if it was a part she really liked. And she stayed away from people in charge, which was hard, cause everyone was in charge, cause they could say things and do things and tear things off of her that they didn’t like, or didn’t agree with, or just because they felt like being mean that day, and she couldn’t do anything about it because there wasn’t any her inside to do anything so she just had to stand there and watch, with her paper eyes, as the pieces tore off (and it hurt, when they tore off) and flew away. And then one day one of the people she loved, one of the people who were closest to her, was sad and mad and scared and got really upset at something the girl did, and so she gave her to the really-in-charge people, and they took her away and locked her up in the dark and the cold and the wind kept blowing all the while they looked at her and she could feel the pages and pieces blowing off and off and off like a storm of her. And then they let her go, but she was so fragile then, her shell was so gone, that bits and pieces of the hole inside shone through, and scared the people around her, so she tried to put things back on, but they kept falling off, cause she didn’t know how to make them stick. Only other people could do that, but everyone didn’t know how many pieces she was missing, so they didn’t know to help fill in the gaps. And so she kept moving and going, cause what else was there to do, and the people-in-charge kept tearing and ripping at her, like dogs with a newspaper, and when she tried to tell them that they were hurting her, they just got angry and tore more, and told her that if she didn’t stop they would lock her up in the dark again and she knew that if they did that, that all her pieces would just fall off, and she’d dissappear forever, so she just kept trying and trying to hold things together, but pieces were falling off and she didn’t know what to do. She tried using lots and lots of glue to hold things on, but it made her sick, and sleepy, and didn’t really help, it just made things take longer to do and still the pieces fell off. She tried to ask other people to stick things back on, but it just confused them, and they got frustrated with her asking and asking and didn’t want to be around her anymore. She even went to the people who made the glue, and asked them what to do, but they said she had to learn to do it herself, and they couldn’t help, unless she felt like she was going to start tearing pieces off, herself, and then they’d lock her up and use lots of glue to stick new/old pieces back on, but she knew that that kind of glue only worked for a little while before it cracked and made things worse than before. And they kept telling her that she had to hold herself together, and keep doing what they said, or they’d lock her up in the dark again, and no matter what she said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do, they just kept tearing and tearing until she was so weak all she could do was lie in a pile and listen to the sound of pages fluttering off into the distance, more and more and then less and less until all that was left was one piece of paper and it had this story on it…and pretty soon now, that one will go too, and that will be the end.
I can still feel his warm strength as we curled together on
the couch that morning. “You know I have to go, right? It’ll only be six months. Not long. And when I get back, we’ll get married. Promise.”
I turn my head to smile up at him. “My spaceman.” He grins, and his arms
tighten around me. “I just can’t believe I got in! In my last year!’
I keep the smile on my face as best I can, until
the door closes behind him, and he’s gone.
I still dream the countdown. The numbers harsh in my ears, behind my
tightly closed eyelids. If I’m lucky, I wake before zero. I didn’t even
watch him go.
My ancestors followed the songlines, and found home. So I play. I play
a songline for him. And one day he will hear it, and hold on…and I
will lead him home.
(This is written for Angela Goff’s weekly Visual Dare prompt, my first offering, hope it works. I also wrote a longer piece, just to get the story straight in my head…I think it stands alone, and I’m going to put it here (in another post) in case anyone wants to see. ;p)