Empty. Hello? Empty empty. Goodbye. Empty faces run in the rain. Empty smiles look all the same. Empty empty. Hello? Goodbye.
Here (lies, lies) the house. A door a frame a window. Empty. Hello, goodbye. Structure outside, what within? Well, nothing. Empty.
A voice. A mother’s. A mother’s, of course. Soft and prying. Prying the wood on the chest with her bar but it doesn’t move. It’s nailed shut. She knows that. Already, she knows that. Empty.
A heavy dragging. The wood makes a heavy dragging. You’ll never leave. You know that. Because the hard voice always holds you back. The hard voice. Wood. Hard. Goodbye. Empty empty.
And the thoughts race through your head. And your head and your head and your head. It pounds with the thoughts. Oh, question, no answer – why must you plague me so? Your head and your head. It screams and it shouts. Just like that night. Your head.
And you yell and you can’t get out. But you remember. And you feel yourself pulling and dragging and the wood comes with you. You feel yourself pulling and dragging and you’re trying to reach the Hands. They were warm and strong and smelled of smoke. Wood smoke. The Hands who disappeared.
A child on the ground. No one cares for a child on the ground. They love a child smiling, they love a child laughing; no one cares for a child crying. Shut up, why don’t you?
They’re yelling. They’re all yelling. They’re always yelling. And crying and crying, a child crying. No one cares.
A pitcher goes flying: cool it down, you’ve got to cool it down. A child is doused in water. A crying child. Water to match the tears, to match the lines of salt on his face. Cool it down, the temperature drops. A wet child. A crying child. A child on the ground.
A footstep on a rug. The rug moves. A child falls, the rug pulled out from under it. A child falls. And the ground is 10 miles away, the ground is 10 years away, the ground is so far away. A child falls.
A child hits the ground and shatters. An egg, pouring yolk on the world – dirty yolk, disease-ridden yolk, don’t-touch-it yolk. A child’s mind hits the ground and shatters – dirty mind, disease-ridden mind, forgotten mind. Don’t-touch-it mind. Don’t-touch-it child. Don’t touch it, child.
A small finger reaches out, a child’s finger reaches out. Touches it. Why touch it, child? Wood smoke, Hands, feel the same, smell the same. Grasping at it, a child is grasping at it, but it pulls out of reach. Yelling and yelling and they’re all yelling and they’re always yelling.
A door screeches open. A footstep hits the tile inside and the ground outside, and the child inside and his dad outside. A footstep hits it all. Squash! And then laugh. I don’t care about you or you or you or you or you! I don’t care I don’t care!
A crying child. No one cares, no one cares. Who cares?
And the wood is closed and the key is locked and her bar is useless and she will never get in. And the Hands are gone and the Hands have left and the Hands are gone.
Goodbye. Was that the best the Hands could say? Was that the best the Hands could do? How sharp a word. How foreign. Goodbye. Goodbye? Goodbye.
Age 15, Grade 10
Brooklyn Friends School