Saturday, January 19, 2008

Voiceless



Beneath the fountain dress and china smile, she is naked.

Her hands as rubbery as a toddler’s. Her ankles blush.

Beyond her toes, a collection of eyes glitters. Like coal in a mine, they are banking her light.

She clears her throat. Unfastens her tongue. Opens her mouth.

The darkness holds.

The pianist pauses, and circles back around the prelude, but warily, the chords kicking up dust.

Someone coughs.

He said he would come.
Saturday. January 19th. 1:00.

A cell phone shudders.

He said he would come.

The skittish woman in the front row bares her teeth.

He said . . . he said . . .

He said.

A heel clatters to the stage. Her hip swivels, and she lists to the side. The chill of the stage scales her leg, mounts her gut. She needs to pee.

The pianist loops again, his notes trailing red. The audience ripples like the spine of a caged beast.

Rescue me.

Her mouth gapes, but the melody is locked in her knees. Her heart flutters across the terra. There is no oxygen here.

“Please?”

The pianist relents. Silence rushes her from the wings. It sweeps her up and turns her upside down. Her eyes roll toward the ceiling.

The back door of the school auditorium blasts open as the stage lights flood her face. Her eyes snap to.

“Dad!”

His sunlight frees them all.

Oh, Daddy.

The beast fractures into hundreds of birds, all flapping their wings for her, all buoying her small, honest flight.

She slips on her shiny shoe, straightens her hips, and smiles or sobs. Music swims through her marrow, as the pianist strikes a sunny chord. She opens her mouth, so finally happy to sing her tragic song.


While underground, her canary heart trills,
He said! He said!

He said.

14 comments:

easywriter said...

you capture emotions and fears so beautifully in this vignette. I love your descriptions. I can envision the pianist. :o) I knew one like that who used to roll her eyes in exasperation if we failed to begin on cue. Brava Sarah!

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Ruth!

That spotlight can be intense, especially for a young person. Hell, especially for anyone. ;)

SzélsőFa said...

it was beautiful, Sarah.

Sarah Hina said...

I appreciate that, Szelsofa.

Thanks for reading! :)

jason evans said...

The building paralysis...so well done. And this line was perfect! The audience ripples like the spine of a caged beast. I could sense the truth of that.

Her wish is heartbreaking, even when it is fulfilled. Her father probably doesn't realize his power. Maybe he could be on time for the next performance!

Sarah Hina said...

You're right, Jason. It's not really a happy ending for her. She's still so very vulnerable. And next time, who knows?

Parents have such power over their kids, and don't always take that to heart the way they should. Nothing makes my heart ache more than seeing a child who's been taken for granted.

Aine said...

"Beyond her toes, a collection of eyes glitters. Like coal in a mine, they are banking her light."

That's a wonderful way to describe the onstage view! I felt her pain and awkwardness. Nicely done.

Billy said...

The rhythm of all your works is so unique, and this is no exception. Very effective. Kudos.

Sarah Hina said...

There is such a desperate tension, Aine. Even lacking this exact experience, it doesn't take much for us to imagine her terror.

Thank you, again, for your kind words. :)

Billy, thanks. :) I feel like I've learned a lot about rhythm through writing these vignettes. They're a little more immediate than my novel writing.

Maybe someday I'll carry this presentness into a longer format.

mermaid said...

'The beast fractures into hundreds of birds, all flapping their wings for her, all buoying her small, honest flight.'

He can do this for her, and I completely get it! I even get it more with my own little one now.

So fragile, so honest, so protected.

Shameless said...

What a great moment Sarah! I was right there on stage.

Sarah Hina said...

Mermaid, sometimes it takes one person to turn the world around, to shift us from darkness, and bring us into the sun.

And yes, as parents, we have that ability. Beautiful, and not a little scary.

Thank you, Seamus! I'm glad the moment imprinted itself on you like that.

Abhinav said...

The beast fractures into hundreds of birds, all flapping their wings for her, all buoying her small, honest flight. >This is one of the best lines of imagery I've ever read.

And this: She opens her mouth, so finally happy to sing her tragic song. *wow*

I think someone ought to introduce an award in your name: something like a Sarah Hina Flash Fiction Award.

Sarah Hina said...

Abhinav, can we call it The Murmur? ;)

Thank you, my friend. Your praise means the world to me.

I find myself drawn to bird imagery lately. Not sure what that is about, but I haven't forgotten your idea of writing a story about birdsong. I will get there...someday. :)