From the perspective of my new character Teddy...
I can't quite remember my sister, the sister I couldn't carry away with me because i had no where to take her. no safety. no sweet home to embrace us. the boy and the bird with the broken wing.
i sit beneath a small sapling that smells of bitter forests as well as sour mud. overwhelming in my nostrils but i don't mind. as long as i can become invisible to the people around me. please let me be unknown to the surrounding faces. i don't have a god. just a sense that somebody could be listening to me. maybe my sister but i shake my head. don't make me remember. not now. not yet i murmur.
i open my eyes casually to the blaring sun that makes me blink several times. my book still on my lap. the book i snatched from the burning of books in my village... or could it be a suburb. i honestly don't know the difference. that probably makes me stupid right?
i comb my hands through my fringe, ridding it from my face so that i could see her. i watch her on the playing pitch. the way she runs like a cheetah down the track. there may be no grace but i'm not worried about that. to me she's more beautiful than any other being i've layed my eyes upon. i smile. just being able to see her from afar is fine with me. i watch to see her face becoming pinker and pinker, her thighs jiggling as she speeds towards the ball. from here even her pants are clear, painstakingly clear. can nobody else see how hard she tries. yes she's below average academically. she doesn't have a great rote memory like most. she can be loud but she is fierce and strong. the girl running beside her ... i believe her name is Lottie glances sideways at Mame and she says something. in a rough whisper by the way she opens her mouth. the way she grimaces. then sneers.
Mame turns, grabs Lottie by her shoulders and shoves her harshly to the ground looking upon her as if she is the epitome of filth. i stand. instinct tells me to stand so i do. my book falls to the grassy surface of the earth with a dull thump. i peer over and the other girls on the pitch scurry towards the fight that's been stopped momentarily by the chill sneaking like a snake down my spine. i make my way cautiously forwards, i don't want to be noticed but in a way i can't help but run. i keep my eyes along a concentrated line straight ahead, my destination Mame. teacher ms marcole of sports leaps, an obstacle in my path. her back to me. i hear a sound... a thwack. my heart jumps painfully. i push ms marcole out of my path only to see Mame on the grass, cradling her red cheek in her hands. she looks up and for a moment i'm inside of her, seeing everything the way she sees it. the faces so ready to drown her in her own mistakes. the ever present tingling of her bruised cheek. the gradual decaying of her autumnal heart that's not really fit for such a harsh winter.
Ms Marcole: Mame! Go to the principal's office. NOW!
Mame glances upwards from the floor, a look of death about her.
Mame: No. I wont. I will not. I haven't. Are you going to investigate the situation thoroughly or leave it hanging. are you really so willing to snatch up the first biased view you have. i realize you don't like me. never have. never will. that's okay it's a free country. but if you dare to talk to me as if i'm in the wrong than i refuse to do anything that you order me to.
i listen. justice herself has fallen from the heavens. i can't help but smile a little. her words powerful and righteous. though i do see the way her bottom lip trembles a little. the sweat that is still leaving the pores of her skin as if in a rush hour like on the london tubes. the frowning faces, disapproving teacher, the snickerings and pointed fingers. yet only one whisper gets to me; 'she is nothing. never will be anything but an obstacle in my way.'
i shove roughly through the crowd of bitches. till i reach Mame. i crouch down to her level, knees in the dirt, nail bitten fingers digging into the soft mud. the whisperings get louder, harsher, crueler than all of a sudden they go. disappearing into the air. the thing is they haven't gone, like a ghost that realizes it isn't scary. i just chose to ignore it, the voices and the words that take turns striking like knives in a game of russian roulette.
Mame looks at me, she's afraid, her frame shakes a little. i hold her in my arms. tightly. surprised that she's letting me... i murmur pathetically... i'm here.
her sobs tear me. like a child fed up with her brother's drawings that always look better than her own. she rips me up. till i'm nothing but ribbons of flesh carried away in the wind. i listen and she's saying something. my t-shirt muffles the sound so i release her just a little until we are face to face. her eyes are big emphasized by the heavy blue rings that hang like hammocks from them. the pale snow white skin starved of sun light with only the tinted colour of fading roses in winter painted upon her lips.
Mame: fuck off! get the hell off me.
she stands bolt upright, shoves me away. till i'm lying on my back , my eyes gazing upon the clouds in the sky. the voices come back.
Lottie: Do you have some kinda crush on Mame? Freak! Fucked up Perv! Who could possibly in their right mind like her!! She's nothing but a tramp who's father couldn't even stick her. Your a stupid transgender circus creep. Get lost!
Knee by weeping knee i stand up, shaking just a little. staring at her. everything about her repelled me. the glinting voids of her eyes, and the ugly smirk smeared across her tanned features. everything goes black for a few seconds... my anger controls me, i'm just the empty tin can mechanism controlled by a being that i don't even know about. the voices change from being viscious, cruel daggers to fearful rats scurrying and squeaking. one for itself. only human nature but why? why the sudden change in emotions...i open my eyes, one by one slowly. gulping i look down at Lottie coughing on her own blood, staining her sweaty gym top. big eyes fearful. all faces , all people taking a step back when i turn towards them. i swallow the bile rising in my throat. fearful i peer down at my fists, vibrating like the atoms of a metal do when heated. the heat is too much. too hot. too... my knuckles are layered with spatterings of red.
I sit outside the principal's office, on one of those mean plastic chairs staring at the wall bleeding brown then think back to the blood leaving Lottie's cheek. I remember a voice, familiar, faint like a flower who's name has just passed you by. 'if they hit your right cheek, turn so they can have the opportunity to hit your left cheek.' as soon as the words came they went, a passing train at a terminal.
awh crap. i left my book on the playing field. i can't go back now. the principal wants me, needs me to see him.
Teddy: Awh FUCK!
Mame turns shocked by my sudden voice. i can't face her. my eyes refuse to meet hers. they wont ring my mum will they... they can't. they shouldn't. she's too depressed already. this is just going to stir up even more shit for her. Ah jeez why couldn't i have just walked away.
Principal: Can I see Mame Yun and Teddy Marcus in my office please?
his voice, just a monotone of ever falling rain drops boring into my head. through my skull, drowning the brain that i probably don't even have.
I get up, lazily, the chair had almost become a refuge for my thoughts... if only i could have left them there. i turn 'fuck off.' i mutter barely realizing that Mame was walking behind me. they were aimed at the thoughts... myself in other words.
Teddy: Ah! Sorry, I didn't mean you. Really i didn't, it just..was wrong timing and all. sorry.
i bow deeply wanting her to know how sorry i was. she only digs her hands deeper into her pockets. i turn, embarrassing myself ,,but don't i always!
i stumble into the principal's office, holding the door open for her. she looks at me. it's almost as if she's willing to acknowledge me. the moment passes like a flash of lightening as she turns away from me to face the principal. i'm as satisfied as i was before, i like the way her shoulder blades show prominently through her skin, making ruffles in her gym top, the top that smells of mud and pine. slowly i make my way towards the principal. standing beside her. sneakily i peer to look at her face, streaked with mud, her oval face a bulb of light. the dark brown hair of hers tied messily into two pony tails. i need her. is that so wrong. she reminds me of my sister. the bird with the broken wing.
NOOOO not now. please. don't make me remember. please... i'll beg on my hands and knees if i have to but it comes like a train hammering into a stranded tramp on the railway line. sleeping,unaware.
'Teddy..' she shrieks with delight. i hold her in my arms. kiss her gentle forehead free of wrinkles. smiling, happy.
'how was your day?' i ask. she shrugs her shoulders 's'ok' she replies. she frowns a little... or did she. it only lasted a brief second before she's smiling again. my heart flutters and flies like a butterfly towards her resting itself upon her flat chest.
Than the sea is raging, waves waving, a greeting of the sea. the breeze i swallow mouthfuls, tasting it hungry each time for more. i hear a cry. short and sharp. i get up, look around. fretting, fretting like a mother hen. angel appears before me.
'teddy. i hit my toe on a rock. then a crab pinched me. it hurts. why does everything hate me...' i hold her, i am her shield from the powerful wind. i pull her onto my lap, inspecting her shiny red toe. i kiss it, she giggles. ruffling her hair, i pull out a band aid from my pocket and wrap it around her toe. gently, not wanting to cause her more unwanted pain. afraid of her silent suffering.
angel's tenth birthday. nobody comes. everyone, even mum forgets. everyone but me. 'happy birthday angel.' she tells me to fuck off. i try to shrug it off. 'i have a gift.' looking expectantly i show her the picture i did of her. an angel. with feathered wings, a childish body and a smile full of cheek. i watch her observe it. tears empty from the buckets of her eyes. she lays it gently on the floor, then turning wraps her arms around me. 'sorry' she mutters.
uncle came, dad and mum are arguing, deciding to take a vacation for a few days. leaving us alone with uncle phil, he gives us candy when he thinks mum and dad aren't watching. tells me day after day how handsome i am. how beautiful angel is. bright eyes dancing on his face transform into thieves, villains and criminals. touching me, feeling, rubbing, it's wrong. i tell him to stop, anger snaps him, bottles smelling of whisky smash, fragments of icey green. angel's crying out. mum and dad aren't here, i'm behind on homework... i don't go. until the cries become too painful. i open her bedroom door. he's on top of her. mounting her like a horse. i scream.
dad leaves...joins a hippy parade. angel cries. 'sorry. so sorry for everthing' sorry the only words i can say to her. alone in bed she lies and i cry cos i could have saved her that day but i didn't. my baby sister corrupted by the world, by our now deceased uncle phil. the haunting ghost.
last day. before it happens i go to angel. 'i'm sorry.' she can't meet my eyes. i realize i can't save her. slowly i walk towards her. holding her tightly. she lets me. but she doesn't hold me back. silent tears fall on silent nights when not even angel can smile like she could... would if i had saved her. before leaving i see she still has the picture i did for her when she was ten. smiling sadly i leave her room, tired...so tired.
next day. i bring her flowers, stolen from the church yard, will she smile... i hope so. stepping into her room a stench so foul attacks me. angel... no a corpse lays on her bed and yes for a brief moment i do see an angel with wings poised above me. i run to her. wrists bloodied, rusty tools, pale skin. broken wing. i howl.
opening my eyes to a foreboding silence, the howl still goes on. Mame and the principal stare at me. until i realize i am the being howling. clamping my mouth shut. angel smiles. laughs. memories. why can't they be locked up... please...
i collapse to the floor, overcome by tears, the rush of blood to my head. noisy, knowing it was my fault. all my fault...
i look up, mame looks down upon me, scarlett eyes full of concern. she holds me. tightly. almost as if she understands the pain, the suffering with which i gave angel. my fault... in an instant the bad thoughts leave, escape and the smell of pines and mud becomes too strong... too much. but it makes me forget. i need to forget. pull yourself together, a voice shouts, commanding. i swallow saliva frothing in my throat like a mixture would in a witches cauldron.
i stand. shakey, ready at any moment to fall. i don't... not now. mum can't know about this. she can't... she doesn't know what uncle phil did. i don't want depression to absorb her, control her. i don't want it to be my fault again. removing myself from mame's clasp. i walk steadily towards the principal.
'sorry. i apologize sincerely for wasting your time and everybody elses. sorry... it . urm. can i ask you a favour?
principal: 'Are you in your right mind... i mean are you alright, shall i take you to the nurse's office? urm right sorry. sure, i guess.
he stutters, afraid of causing another outburst, passing me tissues, pulling them out placing them into the palm of my hand.
'thanks' i manage a small smile.
'the things is... can you not tell my mum about this. in return i'll go to as many detentions as you want me to go to. i'll apologize a million times to lottie, buy her chocolates and flowers... anything. clean the dirty laundry in the boarding house.. maybe. do essays every night for you... just say please... anything. just don't ring her up.
principal 'i'm only concerned about your well being. don't you think it would be best to tell your mum... if you can tell her yourself, when your ready. i wont ring. if that's the case. but i'm afraid i can't keep the fact hidden that you hit lottie. i'm sorry.
'right. okay' i reply, deep in thought. i sigh heavily about to leave...
principal: ' i know lottie triggered it by teasing mame. that you as her friend went to protect her. i'm sorry. wait. teasing isn't the right word. bullying. yes. that was what she was doing. i'll be sure to mention that.'
'thanks sir. i appreciate that.'
i walk towards the exit when somebody prevents me from doing so. mame stops me , clutches the back of my t-shirt. i stop.
'wait for me outside... ah ... what i mean is can you please wait for me...' her words trail off becoming afraid and small. smaller and smaller. until they're nothing but breaths escaping her rose tinted lips. i smile. happiness, what a rare feeling. trying to play it cool. i only say 'sure' even the word escaping me is high pitched, excited. overly and immensely happy with this result. could it be that one day in the future we will be friends...
'sorry. i was in there a while wasn't i? sorry.' mame mutters looking at me. shy, nervous as if on her first date. i can't help but smile.
i shake my head 's'ok'
we walk carefully in silence to creative writing, a class we have together. the only one i enjoy cos i get to sit opposite her. knocking on room 402, we enter bowing,, apologetic.
Mr jackson 'come in come in. so glad you could make it. did you all get your assignments done? looking around he sees faint bobbings of heads and smiles. i like mr jackson. 'okay so who wants to go first?' nobody volunteers so i put my hand up.
'fantastic come on up then teddy. thanks for volunteering.'
'no worries' i smile.
standing, like a god. or the devil above them. maybe an angel,, i observe tired faces in the crowd, deprived of their holy sleep. then i spot mame head down on the table but peering up through her rough fringe. her eyes big and evidently beautiful. my heart flutters just a little.
'this is a poem i wrote. a depiction of... helplessness. i ur hope you can listen. well.. thanks if you do ah ... i'll start now.'
i'm sorry dear sister of mine,
i'd pick you up of the floor,
but where would i take you?
smash. grab. feathers. blood.
a bird with a broken wing,
crippled by a fierce dog.
i am only the boy,
unable to embrace you without causing you pain,
i'm sorry you have to suffer because of me,
and that noise.
i'd pick you up of the floor.
dear sister of mine but i've nowhere to take you.
my home is not safe and warm.
i'm sorry. i wish i didn't have to leave you,
dear sister of mine.
the silence aching in the walls of this room, poetry is a way for me to relieve myself without having to cry. mr jackson looks at me. knowing like the boy in the poem he is unable to help me. i show him i understand that with a brief nod, a forced smile, then i sit back down in my appointed seat. opposite mame who looks upon me, eyes big and heavy. she quickly flicks through her refill pad, writes in a rush, words. then pushes her pad to me on the page with the words she had just written and on it she had written.:
why not fix the bird's wing...why not fly away with her... far away. or cradle her in your arms and tell her you'll never leave her.
the words written with black pen are smudged with droplets of sweat... no. i look to her and it hits me that she's crying.