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I Tell You The Truth

January 28, 2010

Sheets covered the backyard. Sheets with crazy reddish-brown Rorschach–looking splotches, ones large enough I could read from my window, twenty feet away. A bunny, here—no—a face…it’s Aunt Alice! And there—a teddy bear—it looks like the one from third grade—oh, Teddy!

I will rescue you.
It’s no mystery how the sheets got there. The workers left them. The workers are spies. You see, my apartment complex was being taken over by a new company, one rumored to quickly turn old, decrepit housing into sleek, modern apartments for newly-minted lawyers, engineers, and MBAs. My backyard was simply the beginning.
Fresh wooden stakes held down the sheets, which, blowing in the late afternoon light, looked like wounded ghosts crying for freedom. I resolved. But which shoes would I wear? “Little Okefenokee swamp” (what I christened my backyard two years ago) was worse than usual due to the past week’s rain.
The two inch white pumps would have to do.
My heels left their own stake marks as I crept around the waving sheets. I finally arrived at Teddy, in the very back. Teddy didn’t look like Teddy up close. For a second I hesitated, but then I heard, “You left me all those years ago.”
“But, Teddy—I didn’t mean to. Dad didn’t let me get back on the train. I screamed and he wouldn’t listen!” I was screaming now. I was sobbing now.
Teddy rose even higher in the wind, one corner loose and flapping. From behind I heard, “Don’t mind him. We’re the ones to worry about.”
I spun around and nearly fell. But, at face level, only twelve inches away, was another sheet. All I could see was burnt red, the color of the scab on my knee. The rest of the sheet blew in the wind like an erect windsock.
“Who are you?”
“We are voice.”
“Whose voice?”
“Whose voice do you want us to be?”
Laughter. “My dear, we’ve never been anything else.” A high-pitched female voice.
“Seize her!” I heard a gruff, deep-throated voice say. It came from the same sheet.

Then all I could see weresheets everywhere, spattered with a rainbow of reds, lifting up then down, up then down. I began to get dizzy like I did when I played that parachute game in elementary school. We’d dive under the parachute and let it blanket us, then quickly return to the outside and spin. I could never keep my hands on the end of the parachute. I fell every single time.
Not this time! I reached behind me and ripped Teddy from his stake, which came out easily. Its hurling silhouette against the clouds gave me courage. I reached down and pulled the stake at my feet, the one belonging to voice. It wouldn’t budge. Laughter again. Cruel laughter.
I turned around and went to the other stake that had been Teddy’s. It pulled out easily. I began stabbing voice, but it eluded me. Instead of doing damage, I got caught—one end of the sheet wrapped around my arm. I pulled free and tackled it to the ground. I began stabbing straight through the sheet into the earth. Pools of red formed around each puncture wound.
When I stopped, all was still and gray. Sheets littered the ground with splotches of different sizes, some almost black in places. Beside me lay Teddy, in pristine white save the one identifying reddish-brown blotch. I hugged him to me and began to get up. My knees were covered in bruises and hurt. My nose seemed to be bleeding. “I’ll never leave you behind again,” I whispered to Teddy as I walked shakily back to my door.
Before I could get to it, I heard, “You there, what have you got?” I hugged Teddy tighter to me and kept walking. “Miss? Did you hear me?” Another spy! Ever since the new company had come in, there’d been a security guard watching the property in the evenings.
He stepped out of the shadows just as I reached my door. He was overweight with a red bulbous nose. I wanted to smash it. It looked like a huge zit.  He looked at my mud-spattered clothing then at my hands before he spoke. “Is that from out back?”
I refused to answer and reached for my key.
“Miss?” His hand grazed my elbow. I threw Teddy down and silently apologized for doing so. I’d kept Teddy’s stake, which I lifted. The man’s eyes brushed over it, pausing at the reddish end. “Is that also from around—?”
He went down so easily, as if his excess weight made keeping a center of gravity difficult. I lost control of my arm, as if in a trance. For some reason he didn’t shed a drop of blood.
Can fat replace blood, and if it can, how can one live?
They allowed me to keep Teddy. I held him as I waited. On the long table before me were several dirty sheets caked in red clay as well as a smooshed garden gnome. I hated those things. Wished I could throw him against the wall.
The man came in holding a clipboard and looking harried. “Miss, you’re free to go. Your neighbors aren’t going to press charges, but they have asked that you replace the sheets from their clothesline as well as the gnome. Do you think you can do that?”
I nodded, as I was supposed to.
“Your mom is here to take you home.”
“Why—? I could take a cab!”
His voice was a little softer. “We thought it might be best.”
On the way home, my mom told me the story the police told her. They didn’t believe my story—about Teddy, voice, and the security guard.
They didn’t believe me, but you and I know the truth.
26 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2010 4:55 am

    Very nice tale, great pace all the way. I could feel the character. Teddy! The parachute game is perfect, another calling to youth capturing the feeling with a vivid description.

    • January 29, 2010 5:42 pm

      Re: Fantastic
      Thank you! I used to love that game (good childhood memories), but when I was writing I saw how haunting, scary, and dizzying it could to someone…

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:01 am

    Story for #fridayflash
    You take a clothesline with sheets held by their pins, and a teddy bear, and a garden gnome and create this fantastical world that grips at this young lady.
    I smiled at the line where she decides to wear the 2-inch white pumps to walk to the “swamp”.
    And laughed at the “smooshed” garden gnome.
    What an imaginative piece!

    • January 29, 2010 5:45 pm

      Re: Story for #fridayflash
      Thanks! I love the two inch heels, too. Originally the piece was to state that she ONLY wears bright white pumps–they just differ in height. She chose two inch ones b/c two was her lucky number. Never made it into the story, though…I think I like it better this way.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2010 8:17 am

    This was so evocative – I could see it done on a theatre stage, with masked/wrapped up actors underneath the sheets manipulating them, spinning the main character around while she says the words. This is so rich a tale. Well done.
    marc nash

    • January 29, 2010 5:49 pm

      Re: fidayflash
      Thank you so much. As I read your comment, I could see it, too (thanks for mirroring my story back to me in a different way). I would never have thought of this. Tres cool idea! Makes me actually want to see it–the idea embodied–if not with this, another piece–mine or someone else’s.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2010 4:59 pm

    This is a vivid insight into a very confused mind. Haunting and scary with some funny bits, too. Great voice! ~ Olivia

    • January 29, 2010 5:50 pm

      Re: Fridayflash
      Thanks for picking up on the psychological aspects. Very confused, indeed. I’m glad the humor came through. 🙂

  5. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:01 pm
    Wow that was a wild ride. At first I wondered if you were describing a nightmare and that you would wake in the end. Good job.

    • January 29, 2010 5:54 pm

      As I was writing I kept thinking that it could read like a dream and might be read that way. I did want the symbols in the piece to function–or, rather, mimic in function–symbols in dreams.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2010 7:03 pm

    Quirky brilliance
    Loved the uniqueness of this story — a sheet, clothesline, a Teddy bear, the voice. Great voice on this girl. Legs to go a little longer, too. Peace, Linda

    • January 31, 2010 7:41 pm

      Re: Quirky brilliance
      Thanks! I may think about doing a longer piece…or working with her as a character again!

  7. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2010 9:19 pm

    I enjoyed the sense of disorientation I got from reading this visual tale very much. Seeing is believing, right?! Wonderful.

    • January 31, 2010 7:42 pm

      Re: Spinning
      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the disorientation. I did want that, although I didn’t want to make the reader dizzy. Maybe it was just enough. 🙂

  8. Anonymous permalink
    January 30, 2010 4:14 am

    Unique and psychological
    I love nightmares and dreamscapes, to coin a phrase. The surrealism and delusion of the narrator was nice ad convincing, even down to the gnome. It all turned out to be weird vandalism. Makes me wonder if she was staking red Alabama clay. Cheers, Carrie

    • January 31, 2010 9:20 pm

      Re: Unique and psychological
      Thank you! I laughed out loud at “It all turned out to be weird vandalism.” I hadn’t thought of it that way before–but it’s true!

  9. Anonymous permalink
    January 30, 2010 10:28 am

    Loved the colours throughout this piece. Glad she got to keep her teddy 🙂

  10. Anonymous permalink
    January 30, 2010 11:25 am

    Nice pacing, I’m cheerful the Teddy could remain with her 🙂

  11. Anonymous permalink
    January 31, 2010 4:18 pm

    This is absolutely gripping, and haunting. Great work!

  12. Anonymous permalink
    February 2, 2010 11:12 am

    “Can fat replace blood, and if it can, how can one live?” – excellent little snippet of confused thinking!
    The whole thing was well done, with her descent into “weird vandalism”!

  13. Anonymous permalink
    February 3, 2010 3:47 pm

    The Truth!
    What a captivating tale of how the “truth” appears to the girl. A good way to show what was in her inner self – scarred from the past.

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