This morning I see that my fear of silence, of this meditation turning its back suddenly on me, is unfounded. As I wake from sleep I immediately find inside something very small.
I grab some coffee and hold onto this sound of a little girl’s footsteps approaching. I can feel her getting closer.
You are the size of a grain in my mind, so tiny I can barely hold youinside me.
Hello, little one. Can you tell me who you are?
Who are you?
I’m … me. And I’m…you too. What is your name?
You have the littlest voice. You sound tiny.
I AM a Tiny. I’m awkward and unpracticed. I never get to speak.
Does it help for me to ask really specific questions? Would that make this feel easier?
Okay, how old are you?
I’m a Tiny. I am five and under.
Do you know how far under?
Maybe a little.
Why are you unpracticed?
You don’t like little girls, inside or outside of you. We make you uncomfortable. You are more comfortable with Shard. She eventually takes over for us because she is sharp. And hard.
What are you like?
I am not sharp. Or hard. Not one bit. I dress and twirl in a pink tutu. Patent leather shoes on my feet, which my dad brings home from his store. I wear pink. Eat pink. Strawberry ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Do you love your mom?
More than the world. We are the best of friends.
She’s a writer sometimes, you know. Her imagination and mine curl up together on the couch to make up stories, the best stories. Secretly and only ours.
Keep going, Grain. I’m listening.
From icicles to cherry blossoms, she takes me with her like a dog by her side to drop off samples door to door. She makes money this way.
Do you like going door to door?
Oh, yes! We are outside houses and then inside to ask people questions about the samples. Sometimes I smell the grease still sitting in pans long after breakfast, and I smell rich and poor people and in between people. I never stray far from my mom’s legs. Her legs. Her work. My world is hers.
It sounds amazing.
And then it’s not.
Do you remember what happened?
One day my mom hires another lady to help. She does just what my mom does and takes her daughter Christina, who is little like me, along with her to drop off samples.
We all make friends. Two pairs. Four friends.
We are upstairs now, inside a fancy store. We are having lunch on the top floor.
Four of us without crusts on our sandwiches, and I wear a pink dress and my socks are pink, too. We eat in front of a huge window the size of the outside, and Christina and I run to the window to look out, bellies filled with our sandwiches without crusts.
And we are laughing, and we can’t ever seem to stop.
We go again. On more dates. We giggle all the time. We are friends, and our stomachs hurt together when we laugh.
Then one day a story is being told to me.
I am here, Grain. Listening.
Christina was waiting outside while her mom dropped off the samples. Just like me and my mom did all the time.
She is chasing cherry blossoms into the street. And the blossoms fill up our mind because they are pink this time of year and cover everything.
A truck comes and can’t stop because she has run so suddenly into the street.
He hits her. Hard. She is down.
Days and days pass. Christina is in the hospital. I am five. Or maybe six.
Do you remember the weather?
Ugly, spring, dirty, wet. Cloudy and sunny. Oh, the weather can’t decide what to be when Christina is in the hospital.
Keep going, Grain. I have your hand.
It is Thursday now.
Thursday for sure?
Thursday with all my might.
And on this day my mom takes me for a haircut.
And it is nightime now.
I am crying because my hair is uneven. I am scared to go to school the next day and be made fun of.
It is seven or it is eight o’ clock and up, up, up the stairs my mom comes.
Are you scared?
So scared. Up. Up. Up
She comes in my room, and the words gurgle out of her mouth, swollen and angry, from a place in her throat I’d never heard before.
She tells me a little girl has died.
Christina is gone.
She says, how do you feel about your haircut now?
The gall, she says, to cry over a haircut.
How, she says, dare you.
And it is seven or eight o’ clock, and it is a Thursday. And together, she and I agree to hate me because I have been crying over a haircut and Christina has died.
It’s okay, Grain. I’m here, and you are safe. You were crying before you knew.
If you can keep going, do you remember your life much after that?
Our mom works all the time now, is what I know. All my brothers are in school and I am home now alone so she shows me how to use the stove to heat up soup for lunch.
I open the can and read books while I spoon every drop into my mouth turning pages, so much soup in my belly I ache into the afternoons.
And when she is home, I get beaten in my bed.
Do you know why?
Reasons I don’t remember. Reasons I don’t understand. I am so small. I am a Tiny. I can’t ever fight back.
What does she do?
Up, up, up the stairs to my bedroom where she uses a hairbrush. And sometimes a paddle. The paddle is nothing compared to the plastic hairbrush handle.
Do you remember what she would say?
Don’t you EVER (SMACK), EVER (SMACK) DO THAT AGAIN. If I EVER(SMACK) EVER (SMACK) see you doing that again, I will (SMACK SMACK SMACK). You are a SPOILED (SMACK) STINKING (SMACK) ROTTEN (SMACK) BRAT.
Oh, Grain, how it must hurt.
Oh, yes. So sharp it stings. Our hands are up to stop her, and our hands get hit, plastic against the bones, and our knuckles bruise up. We cover our face. We cower and curl up, but she unfurls our body, her long nails digging into us. Then … smack, smack, SMACK.
We are screaming for our mom to help. But our mom is the one hurting us.
I am howling in my bed big tears that don’t ever stop.
What happens to you, Grain? Where do you go? Do you grow up?
I go away, and Shard takes over. She fights back and tires out our mom until our mom gives up. We were seven or eight or nine. I am not certain of exact dates.
Grain, thank you so very much for talking with me.