Grueberfest 09 Final - ImplodeSubmitted by Ducky at 2009-10-28 01:32:02 EDT
Rating: 1.95 on 52 ratings (52 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
There are two types of people on this mortal coil. Exploders take any anger they feel and let it out as it comes…they may come across as assholes, but it’s important for them to get that release…get it out and get on with it. They’re the people who will yell and finger you if you cut them off on the freeway. They’ll curse at the barista if their tall non-fat irish cream soy latte is made incorrectly, or if it’s not the right temperature. If their vacation is cancelled because of work demands, they’ll throw a tantrum and smash up their office. While dealing with a difficult customer or client, they might be able to stifle their emotions, grit their teeth and be nice to your face but will throw a complete fucking fit, Basil Fawlty style, behind closed doors. Whatever it is though, they get it out. These people can be rough to deal with on a day to day basis, but they’re not the dangerous ones.
Imploders will eat almost anything…not food mind you but emotionally. You can yell and scream at them, call them every name in the book, and they will stand there and absorb it like a shammy towel. They will take all the negative energy you have to spew at them, all the rough situations, all the problems they are dealing with…they will ingest it all raw, and move on with their lives. They will quietly resign themselves to having to work Saturdays, will sit with blank expressions on their faces while the road-rage assholes say their piece, and will listen to undue criticism without uttering a word in defense. Those emotions though…imploders can only pack them in so far, and when there’s no more room at the inn, you’re just waiting for one more thing to take you from brimming to overflow. That overflow comes with a vengeance.
They will be the ones standing on the clocktower picking off pedestrians.
They will be the popular, class clown suicides you never saw coming.
They are the people who will grin and bear it until it kills them, and maybe you.
__ __ __
Janis Aicholz, tears streaming down her face, stared into the pool of water.
“Sshh…shhhh….shhhh…” she repeated. “Shhhhhh..sh.shhhhhhhh”
The water had been still for minutes.
“Shhhhhhh….shhhhhhh….shhhhhh…it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay…shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Shaking, she pulled the cold, silent lump out of the water and held it to her chest. Looking down, she stared at the sopping mass in her arms. “That’s better…isn’t that better? Yes, it’s so much better now…just….better…”
She took the cold, swaddled form, made sure to wrap it tightly, and placed it alongside the other packages in the large deepfreeze behind her house.
__ __ __
Mother works all day in a big building called a call center while I stay with nana. When I ask her what it’s like she says it’s okay…that she has to talk on the phone all day to angry people. It’s her job to listen to them and try to make them feel better. She says that it’s frustrating.
She used to tell me that seeing Meg and daddy and me at the end of each day made everything worth it.
__ __ __
Every night at 5pm, I pad down the carpeted staircase and take my place at the table. Depending on the day, I can tell you exactly what we’ll be having. Fridays are liver and onion days. I hate liver and onions. The liver is always slimy and undercooked and the onions coil around my tongue when I put them in my mouth. They slither down my throat and choke me. I never say anything about it because mother hasn’t been herself lately. Since daddy left with Meg, she spends a lot of time in the backyard, and when she talks to me she always seems upset.
When I sit at the table, a small cold hand coils itself around my ankle. Sometimes the hand is shaking – sometimes it’s stable, but it’s always cold, and it’s always there. I glance down and nod my recognition to the little girl hiding under there, but just barely…the slightest of nods…I don’t want mother to know she’s there. Her face is always covered with mud and I can barely tell what she looks like, but I think we’re about the same age. Some days I share my food with her, but not always. On Tuesdays we have macaroni with cheese – my favourite. On Tuesdays that needy little hand will tighten around me but I’ll just kick it off. I don’t share on Tuesdays.
Friday’s are different. On Fridays I give most of my food to the little girl.
Once I got caught putting my food on the floor. Mother yelled at me so I told her I was giving it to the dog. Exasperated, she told me that we don’t have a dog. I had said “oh” and “I’m sorry” and “it won’t happen again”. We used to have a little dog called Ginger. She used to be a happy dog, but ever since daddy and Meg left, and the little girl showed up under the kitchen table, she would sit by the door and cry. She’d cry for hours. The crying would make mother crazy. A little over a month ago, she told me that Ginger had run away. She used to sit at my feet and give me doggy kisses all the time and sleep in my room at night. I miss her. For wasting my dinner, mother paddled my bum until it was red and welted, and I was sent to bed without finishing. I didn’t mind missing dinner, but my bum sure was sore.
I’m very angry. I’m angry at mother for yelling at me and hitting me, and I’m angry at that little girl under the table because she keeps getting me into trouble - so I don’t feed her for over a week and the cold little hand I feel…it turns into two. I glance under the table and see that pair of wide eyes looking up at me through the mud; she takes those cold little hands and twines her little icy fingers around my ankles and legs, wanting me to give her something.
I don’t want to give her anything. I want her to go away.
On Wednesday we have meatloaf. I like mother’s meatloaf but it’s not my favourite. I’ll never tell her that though, because I don’t want to go to bed with a sore bum again. Those little hands are beginning to scratch at my legs. I shake them off but they’re back on me before I stop moving. Mother asks me if I need to go to the bathroom what with all my squirming. I don’t but I tell her I do. I need to get away from those sharp little nails. When I come back, the little girl under the table begins to cry. Her sobs get louder and louder, so I pretend to cry in hopes that mother won’t know it’s her. She asks me what the matter is and I tell her that I have a toothache. She pries my mouth open to have a look at my teeth, and tells me she’ll give me something to cry about if I don’t stop mucking around and eat my dinner. I hear her under the table snickering at me…softly but I can hear it, and I hate her for it but I can’t say anything so I snicker too. Mother asks me what’s so funny so I tell her I was thinking about a joke from school. When she asks me to tell it to her I can only come up with one joke, and it’s the one she had told me about an orange who was kicked out of a juice factory for not being able to concentrate. She gives me a sideways stare before telling me to hurry up and eat my food. I say “yes mother” and finish eating in silence. That little girl scratched my leg so hard it drew blood but I didn’t move. I don’t want mother to get upset.
Mostly she stays at the table, but not all the time. Sometimes if I don’t feed her she’ll follow me up to my room when mother isn’t looking. She’ll scratch at my door and when I let her in, she wants to play with my things. She takes the best toys and if I try to take them back she looks at me with those cold wide eyes and breathes in my face with that icy breath. Her hair is a tangled mess and she smells like rotten leaves. “They’re my toys,” she says. Sometimes I let her take them, but other days I fight with her. We tug and pull at my favourite things until they break in half or until one of us gives up. Until I give up - she never gives up. Once she got so angry at me that she swiped her frosty, dirty nails right over my face. I yelped, and mother came running up the stairs. She asked me what was going on…what had happened to my face. I told her it was the cat. She yelled that we don’t have a cat. That’s true…we’ve never had a cat. After cleaning up my face, she sent me to bed. That stupid cold-skinned girl was under my bed laughing at me.
Mother used to take me to the lake. We would walk along the beach and skip stones across the water. She would let me ride on her shoulders and make sure I was bundled up warm. She still takes me out sometimes, but she makes me wear my hair differently and always holds my hand too tight. Sometimes she calls me Meg by accident. When she runs into people she knows, she’ll smile at them but it isn’t a real smile. I can tell.
_ _ _
Daddy and Meg used to live with us too, but one day daddy got into an argument with mother. I hid in my room with Meg and I couldn’t make out what they were on about but daddy sure was angry. They fought all the time, but I could never hear mother. She was always quiet when he yelled at her. He came stomping up the stairs and gave Meg and me a hug and a kiss and told us that he’d be back for us. We cried and told him not to leave but he left all the same. I haven’t seen daddy in ages. I’m sure he’ll come back for me though, just like he came back for Meg. Meg lives on a farm now…with daddy. He came back for her right away. I never got to say goodbye to her because he came while I was at nana’s. Maybe if I had been home with mother and Meg, he would have taken me too. It’s okay though because mother lets me write letters to them. Maybe that’s where Ginger ran off to.
Mother hasn’t left the house in a long time. She’s shaky and cries a lot, and gives me a spanking if she thinks I’m looking at her funny. Sometimes she’ll sit at the kitchen table for hours at a time with her knees tucked up to her chest and just rock back and forth. Maybe she’s doing it so the little girl under the table won’t touch her.
The next day mother calls in sick for work. I don’t have to go to nana’s. I’m glad, not because I don’t like nana but because I want to spend time with her. I try to play with her but she doesn’t want to. She just sits on the couch and stares at the television without blinking. I ask her if we can go for a drive out to the farm to visit daddy and Meg, but she doesn’t answer me. I ask her if I can write a letter to them but it’s like she can’t hear me, or doesn’t want to. At lunch time I tell her I’m hungry. She looks at me, but it’s a strange look – like she’s looking at me and through me at the same time. She gets up though, goes into the kitchen, and makes the grossest soup I have ever tasted. It has cabbage and banana skins in it, and I tell her I don’t like it. She gets angry and starts to yell. I get upset and start to cry. She sits there in silence and watches me cry while I choke down my soup. The little girl under the table…she isn’t scratching or grabbing my legs with her cold little hands. She just sits there cross-legged and watches. Mother spends the rest of the day in the backyard staring at the pond.
The next day is a Tuesday and she calls in sick for work again. I don’t think she’s really sick. Maybe she’s just tired of trying to make angry people happy. I ask her if she can take me to the lake to skip stones, but she sends me to my room instead. I’m angry and lonely and sick of being sent to my room, so on my way I stop by her room to get some paper. I want to write another letter to daddy and Meg. I want them to come and get me. I’ll beg the way Ginger used to beg for scraps at the table. While I’m looking for paper, I notice that mother’s bedside drawer is open. I walk over to close it for her, and I find all the letters I had written to daddy. I run downstairs with them clutched in my hand and throw them at her. I yell at the top of my lungs that I hate her and want to live on the farm with Meg and daddy. She drags me, kicking and screaming, to my room and doesn’t let me come out until dinner. That night she doesn’t serve macaroni and cheese. She puts some sort of stew with brussel sprouts and baked beans in front of me. I can feel tears welling up in my eyes and heat pouring itself into my face. The little girls’ hands come close to my legs, but instead of squeezing and scratching me, she wraps her icy arm around my calf and rests her head against it.
Mother asks me if maybe I’d like to see them tomorrow. I shriek “YES YES YES” to her until I’ve run out of breath. I am so excited. She smiles at me. The cold little girl smiles at me too. I haven’t seen mother smile in so long. That night she reads me a story and things feel right again. I fall asleep in her lap.
The next morning she calls me outside. She tells me that daddy and Meg and Ginger are here. I’m so happy. I run outside, and there they are. Daddy and Meg are sitting in chairs with Ginger at their feet, facing the fish pond at the back of the yard. I recognize daddy’s jacket. I run up behind him and wrap my hands around the back of his shoulders.
I pull away just as quickly.
He’s frozen and wet. I look up at mother, who is standing next to the pond with a funny smile on her face. I’m confused, but my confusion turns into fear when I look at the chair next to daddy and see the little girl from under the table. She’s looking at me with that icy smile and she’s wearing my sister’s dress. I scream and cry and run towards mother. I’m halfway there but I trip on Ginger. She rolls onto her back and it feels like my toes are all broken.
Mother scoops me up into her arms and carries me towards the pond. She pushes my hair back behind my ears and makes shushing noises. She tells me that she’s going to make everything better, but I don’t believe her.