This morning I wake to see nothing but words in my mind. The voices are letters and words…sentences, paragraphs and pages. The typeface grows larger and louder.
Tap, tap, tap it out.
Type what the voices are saying.
The Mean Team screams at me to get everything down. This is your time to listen they shout. I am forced out of bed to get my laptop, to bring it back into bed where the voices grow loud and angry.
And then the noise ceases, as if hitting a road block.
And in its place, rain.
Not from the sky but from inside.
A soft rain, a gentle whooshing.
I sound like rain on soft petals, like spoons stirring tea.
Yes. That’s exactly right.
I live in the afternoons.
Who are you?
I’ve always been here, you know. If you think back, feel back in time.
May I ask who this is?
Wow. What a beautiful name.
I am sorry it has taken this long for us to meet.
It's okay. But please know that I'm a girl, and as a girl I am not as easygoing as a boy would be. Girls are like this. You understand, right?
Oh –– you understand. You understand girls much better than you let on. You have boys inside, but you are one of us.
Can I ask your age?
I am eight or nine or ten.
How does it feel to be eight or nine or ten?
Being eight or nine or ten is no picnic.
How do you think?
Well, I have some ideas, but I want to hear from you directly. And you want to speak, right?
So what does it feel like, Linger?
Mostly like being in a coma, mostly blackness.
The Mean Team said that you might have been there when our dad spooned us? Is this true?
Yes. That’s me. I am the star of this memory.
What do you remember?
I was there, in our parents’ bed, staring down the quarters on our father’s dresser.
Do you know why we are in the bed to begin with?
We are home sick from school. It is three o’ clock and then it is four. And we stay in our mom and dad’s bed. It is the safest place in all the world.
We love the bed so much we would sometimes make ourselves try and be sick so we could stay here. Out into the snow with no shoes to get sick.
Do you remember?
I do. Do you remember, though, the time when you are home sick, in the bed? The quarters on the dresser? The spoon?
He starts hugging us from behind, moving in ways that feel funny.
Keep going if you can.
Nape of the neck over and over, he kisses us. And then he spoons us and begins to move with a rhythm. I move with him. It feels good but then it doesn’t because we are snuggling and then we are something … else. My world is becoming his.
Can you see anything, Linger?
I am lying on my side staring at his dresser, the worn yellow wood, the quarters he puts out for me like birdseed sitting flat, waiting for my bitten nails to scrape at their edges, releasing them so that I can buy the candy I crave.
Can you remember anything else?
His open closet door. A forest thick with ties stares back at me.
How did it feel in those moments, Linger? Can you remember?
He is taking my heart away, I think. I can’t get it back. Can you help me find it? Can we get our heart back?
We’re going to try. I think that’s the goal. And your excellent remembering is helping.
Do you think, Linger, it was just this once?
I don't know. I only represent a few years or thereabouts. And it’s mostly very dark for us.
Can you tell me what we were wearing?
You know this. Pajama bottoms. No top.
Do you remember, Linger, how long it lasted? How it ended? Who got up first? Did you fall asleep? What happened to the spoon?
It lasted a few minutes. More than five, less than thirty.
Who left first?
And where did you go?
Upstairs. To our bedroom.
That feels right.
Our bed feels cold, detached. We are a moon, upstairs, now orbiting a planet that was once ours.
That’s so hard, Linger.
Not long after, a week or a few or a day, I don’t know, I was in the living room and a decision was made to never return to our parents’ bed. It was our favorite place in our life, but it was time to grow up. There, in that living room, I took the biggest breath of my life. I inhaled all of the world and … I’m gone.
Who is this?
I am Shard, born in a field full of broken glass. I am sharp. And hard. I take over to make sure we no longer feel a thing. It was time to grow up and, in a blink of an eye, I make sure we do. My sneakers smell like rain and sweat, and I will take care of business like nobody’s business. My hair comes in knots just like my shoelaces.
I fight back. I do not let our mom hit us anymore.
I do not let our heart hurt for missing the bed we loved.
Linger inhales all the world in that living room. But it is me, Shard, who freezes the heart solid, who exhales.