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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mute


Standing at the bottom, she freezes.


Twelve steps. Sun baking the concrete cracks, it's not so far. Shuffled small, pulled in, she does as she can. A snap of dread in her gut, slow, slowly placing one foot softly on the stair, she runs her ears ahead to the open door.


"Aye, so it is, and that's what I said -"


"Hmn."


"Not that she did, mind - I ask you.."


Her mother stenciling out his silence, throwing voice motes in the air. Crouching, Karen sits on the second step up, memorising banister rails. Too filled up to breathe she falls to counting, closing down. Sixteen rails, each rail capped by three prongs, she reaches forty-eight, one flight up another forty eight, and another forty-eight above that. She counts, tallies, focusing on the chipped green iron rails, whilst above her head her mother offers tea.


Rails counted, she stands.


Sitting in a sharp shaft of sunlight, Big John lifts his eyes to her as she quietly slips through the door.  With a silent step back to close it tight, she quickly turns for her room before her Ma catches sight of her.


"Was that wee Karen? Och, now where has she gone? Honestly John, I tell you that girl has no manners at all these days.." Raising her voice, "Karen! Karen, come here and say hello will you? Uncle Johnny's here to see us."


No, she will not speak, he can not have her voice, but she opens the door anyway and comes out as is bid. Her mother sits across the table, a bright smile on her face. She is animated and happy, glad to have a visitor to talk at, someone to fill the space in between the scrubbing and the supper. Big John has a tray of allotment vegetables spread out between them. In season again, he is doing his rounds. Her mother continues her flow, picking through his offerings.


"So I went to see Mary and asked her straight, so I did, and you'll never guess what she said, the cheek of it! She only went and .."


Big John isn't listening, though it's no matter, her mother expects nothing less. It's enough she can loosen some words, so many seem to clog her throat. Seizing a fresh topic of interest, she pulls a chair out for Karen to come and sit, join with them.


"Eh, she's grown again, hasn't she Big John?"


Big John nods.


"Aye, I'll bet you see a difference from the last time you were here.."


He looks her over with a conspiratorial wink, smiling he responds, "Aye, Elsie, she sure has, she's changed a lot, hasn't she?"

31 comments:

ladyfi said...

I can almost smell the little girl's fear and wonder at the story behind it... Very well-written!

Putz said...

karen is my first daughter's name and here in america was an unusal name for girls<>><<>the tinkling sounding names were much more frequent, you know the names that would break if you dropped them

Barry said...

Write a novel and I'd read you, your words have a wonderful way of drawing me in.

Skunkfeathers said...

I agree with Barry!

Shrinky said...

Hi Ladyfi, this is a snippet from a very old WIP (more like a work on hold, to be honest)! Maybe one day I will get back to it..

Shrinky said...

Oh Putz, I love the way you describe things!

Shrinky said...

Oh Barry, what a lovely thing to say.. actually I have had a stab at that, even found me an agent - but I've only ever managed to struggle through writing half of it. Maybe one day, eh?

Shrinky said...

Aw Skunk (hugs), your encouragement means a lot, gives me huge encouragement to get back to the grind again - thanks for that.

tattytiara said...

I always look forward to reading your blog, because I know I'll always find good writing here!

lines n shades said...

awesome writing. love the style.

Deidre said...

That first sentence is very gripping!

Rock Chef said...

This is excellent, somewhat un-nerving...

Shrinky said...

Oh Tatty, flattery will get you everywhere! (Grin)

Shrinky said...

Hi lines and shades, thanks for stopping by, it's so nice to see you in here!

Shrinky said...

Hello Deirdre, what a nice surprise to find you in here, thanks for the kind words.

Shrinky said...

Hi RC, glad to hear it's un nerved you (evil grin), it's meant to!

Middle Child said...

And then what happened???? : )

WhisperingWriter said...

I love this. You write so well.

365 Attempts (At Life) said...

I totally agree with Barry. You are a natural with words.

Shrinky said...

Hmnn.. quite a lot, Therese.

Shrinky said...

Aw shucks, Whispering Writer, you've gone and turned me ears all pink now!

Shrinky said...

Hi 365, coming from someone as talented as you, I take that as a wonderful compliment - thank you!

chewy said...

(shiver) Big John and wee Karen have secrets. I absolutely love your story. It grips me tight and won't let go... I impatiently wait for each installment... because you leave me hanging on the edge!

Leslie: said...

I'm hanging on the edge of my chair here, all sorts of ideas rushing and pulsating through my brain...AND????

X. Dell said...

Very effective. It gave me the creeps, thinking about what Karen's gone through--and will probably again.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Wonderful writing! I so enjoy the way you tell a story.
More please.
xo jj

Shrinky said...

Aw Chewy, you make me feel guilty for neglecting her so long - sigh.. I seem to have lost my mojo as far as this plot is concerned. Maybe one day, eh?

Shrinky said...

Ha, Leslie you do make me smile! Guess I need to revisit her to find out..

Shrinky said...

Hi X-Dell, yeah, he's a nasty piece of work is our Big John. (Shudder)

Shrinky said...

Hi jj, aww, it's friends like you that makes blogging such fun - thanks for planting a smile round my heart!

Pat Tillett said...

An old WIP? This is good! I hope you break it out again...