Monday, August 11, 2008

Numb




The blood dried a little darker than the toenail polish. But a girl can’t run in heels.

Stupid thing. Ugly thing. You—oughtta—thank—me.

A paralyzed field steamed on her left. A dark slush of trees blurred to her right. She kept to the tracks. The splinters and gashes on her feet chewed. Like something almost alive.

We call this—a pity fuck. See?

The hem of her prom dress was torn, dirty. Two nights ago, sewing needle in mouth, Mother had said she looked like an angel.

She had twirled and twirled, the words a white dove in her heart.

You best—not tell. Who’d believe—afatpieceashit—like Stammering St-st-Stover?

Spit, spit.

There was no going home last night. Home. The word a foul lie.

Mother would have smelled her breath, noted the rips, and known. Demanded to see the stiff, soiled panties. Not red now, but rusted. Like something used up. Slimming underpants, Mother had called them in the department store. Her lips a pink scar.

No, she would--never--go back. Just keep running, running. Until that stink-eye in the sky sank, and last night's moon defrosted.

You know—I’d find ya--right? Just—gotta—follow that—fat-girl—stench. Smells like—like—spoiled—

He came on meat.

She tripped, and crashed, elbow crunching. But she couldn’t feel, couldn’t feel. Nothing except that stabbing flame. Down there. Like the devil’s itch. Couldn't outrun it. Hugging the hot stones, she opened her mouth for the sobs that wouldn’t come, and retched.

A train whistle called. Two--short--bursts. She rolled on her side.

Laying her cheek on the rail, she grew still. Like one of them caterpillars in the tree up there, done with its cocoon. She almost laughed to think.

Again, the train sang. Closer now. Blasting through the dead space between her ears.

Didn’t mean to be so rough, Josie. It was the vodka, y’know.

She'd always thought train whistles had the loneliest call in the world. But now she realized they sounded a promise. Of destinations.

For those willing to hear.

You wanna go out again? Some place nice next time?

Her cheek received the secret vibrations. She smiled.

So we're straight? Remember, Stover—you never said “no.”

Well, no. She hadn’t been able. Still couldn’t.

The engine curled into view.

Black thunder.

No stopping now. Her teeth chattered. So much power, bearing down on her. Coming for her. She closed her eyes. Willed herself away. White dove, white dove . . .

You wanted it. All you said was--


“P-p-please?"

16 comments:

Aine said...

Oh God. This was really good (though painful)! Amazing details, perfect pacing (IMHO), and told with just-right tension.

The anger that I feel after reading this is so sharp, as if Josie is real. This cuts at the heart of my values. It brings out the advocate in me-- I want to destroy the perpetrators: the prom date (of course), the Mom (for not teaching Josie to be strong and confident), her Dad (for not loving her and respecting her as a fellow human regardless of gender), and society (for allowing sex to be such an issue).'

Yikes-- that's how well you wrote this.

jason evans said...

I'll echo Aine's sentiments. Excellent portrayal.

My favorite element, the one which really leapt off the page with a jaw-dropping reality, was your description of the train approaching. Man, that was good. It tapped straight into my memories of trains and made my heart race to scramble away from the tracks.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Her plight is heartrending,could feel her pain.And what a nail-biting finish,my heart literally came to a standstill!

Awesome imagery,as usual :)

Sarah Hina said...

I'm glad I pissed you off, Aine. ;) I must have done something right...

In all honesty, this was tough to write. Thankfully, I've never experienced such a terrible violation. But I think such an act would be likely to shatter someone already so fragile. I saw Josie as just wanting the pain to end. Taking the most desperate escape route possible, in the daze of the moment.

It's funny, Jason, because in re-reading this today, I actually thought I could have done more with the train element. I felt like it wasn't quite sensory or forbidding enough. But I'm glad you felt some of that force.

My stomach still drops when trains rumble by. It's an acknowledgment of unrelenting power, I suppose. And how small we are in its wake.

Thanks, Sameera. :) These aren't easy pieces to read, or write. But I'm glad you were swept up in the grittier emotions of the story.

ChrisEldin said...

Sarah, this is gripping. I don't think I've ever been so emotionally vested in such a short piece. Ditto everything Aine said.
I felt as if I were there somehow. This is uncompromising and brutal, but also tender. I don't know how you pulled all of these emotions together in a few paragraphs, but you did.

This should be part of a YA story. You have so many excellent writings all over your blog, and many with a theme---I wish you could somehow tie a few of these together.

I remember reading your entry into that contest last year--forgot what it was called, but I remember you made it far. That writing was good, but your writings on your blog are far superior, in my opinion.

This is the one.

Lena said...

that was so tough to read, so overfilled with emotions and made me feel so empty in the end. Why things are happening this way? Why do people have to suffer.
You created such a tension that i was scared to read till the end, your words are too powerful i guess.

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, thank you for that. :) I really do appreciate your encouragement and support.

I still believe that one of these vignettes--or a string of them--may inspire a novel someday. I just don't want to jump into something before I'm ready to see it through. I've done that enough in the past. It has to be a concept so compelling that I can't imagine not doing it. And so far, that lightning hasn't struck.

I really am glad you were so moved by this vignette. I do think, however, that if I were to dive into such a heartrending story like this for the length of a novel, it would be destructive to me personally. I don't want to write with blinders on to the ugliness in the world, but nor do I want to swim in its murkier depths for a year or more.

Anyway, I do appreciate what you said, Chris. And I'm glad that you've seen the kind of growth in my writing that I have strove for. That's the greatest feedback I could hope for!

Sarah Hina said...

Lena, it is awful that people should be made to suffer like this. And not just the rape. I imagined Josie's life as being broken all around. And without love and support, it is so hard to heal.

I'm sorry if this piece was difficult for you. It wasn't pleasant to write, either. But thank you for letting me know that it reached you.

Ello said...

Oh my gosh how horrifying! You have devastated me with this story. So powerful. I almost hate this piece because it was so torturous. But that is the power that you wield. It's heartbreakingly well written. You are such a phenomenal writer.

Hotwire said...

not sure that i have any other adjectives that are any different than have been used already. devistating. gripping. among the best things i've read in a long while.

Sheri said...

OMG Sarah! This was very intense and disturbing. You captured the horrific act, encapsulating it in your words and dashes and stutters. The way you flowed between flashback and present seemed effortless and created one, sad, frightening picture.

Did she survive? Or did she lay down on the train tracks to die? I wasn't sure.

Anonymous said...

I just want to wrap her up and take her home. How you make me care about your broken ones.

Ruth (easywriter)

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Ello. Your understandable revulsion at the subject matter, though, is exactly what I wrestle over when writing these more painful pieces. Are they worth writing? I guess, if they still contain some truth to make us empathize.

Hotwire, that means a lot to me for you to say so.

Sheri, I don't think she made it. I think she was too broken to believe she could ever put herself back together again. And that is a tragedy. All she needed was one person to stop her, or make her feel worthy of life.

Ruth, thank you for that, my friend. I wanted to save her, too.

Bernita said...

Oh God, this is a brutal, brilliant piece.

Sheri said...

I was afraid that was how it ended, but I wanted to believe I had misinterpreted.

aoc gold said...

O Sailor, Come Ashore

(Part I)

O sailor, come ashore

What have you brought for me?

Red coral , white coral,

Coral from the sea.

(Part II)

I did not dig it from the ground ,

Nor pluck it from a tree;

Feeble insects made it

In the stormy sea.

~by aoc gold