PATTERNS IN THE VOID - In The Pines by Isis Grimalkin



In The Pines

by Isis Grimalkin

All characters and events within are fiction, and any semblance they may have to actual persons and occurrences is purely coincidental.

You get yourself locked in a closet with two other girls. Your three hearts are pounding and skipping beats. Think of your uncle’s old Volkswagen clanking and smoking helter-skelter down the fastlane the time it threw a rod with you riding shotgun. Pretend your three little heartbeats don’t sound just like it. Claw for air like a drowning kitten, suck at the dampness all you like but still you can’t breathe. Shut your eyes. Now open them. Try to differentiate between black and black. You can’t. Breathe. Scratch around the floor. Fill your little fingertips with splinters while you scratch like a rat around the walls of your little cell. Pause to listen to the other girls’ sobs. Pause to listen to the girl screaming on the other side of the closet door. Scratch around some more. Try to breathe.

Whisper to the two other girls. Remind them it’s three to one. Grab another hand in the dark and bend her fingers to a Victory sign. Tell her, just like this, just like this you gouge the bastard’s eyes out. Tell them it’s three to one, and you’ll tear the perverts balls off. Listen to the sobs and know that, if there were light enough to see, you’d see their blank teary eyes, their faces slack with shock, their obedience, their hopelessness. Get angry knowing you’re not supposed to be here, it’s their fault. Remember he didn’t want you, he wanted the other three; he wanted them, not you, not ugly, awkward, tomboy you. Let his voice ring through your head. Let the polaroids of the night’s events flicker through your eyes like an old sixteen millimeter stag film in the basement on your older brother’s projector. Watch the pine trees as you hike from the church camp way down the dirt trails tripping over fallen pine branches and stumps through the thick woods. Smell the pine; you’ll never enjoy another Christmas again. Rearview mirror airfresheners are going to bring torrents of terrible memories for years to come. Just like these polaroids right now. Watch yourself entering the log chapel out in the woods. Way out in the woods. Regret it. Smell the pine.

Listen to the preacher’s sermon on the healing of the lepers and remember squirming in your pew, twisting to listen instead to your science teacher in the pew in front of you whispering in the ear of a pretty girl, a popular girl, not a girl like you, an ugly girl like you. Study the polaroid which shows his hand in the candlelight of the chapel brushing her angelic blonde hair from her face. Listen to his hungry wolfish voice say she’s dirty must be cleaned must let jesus inside her must be filled with the holy spirit. Listen as he commands her to stay after the sermon, then gets up to sit next to a different girl, then another. Feel the jealousy that did simmer inside you melt away. Be glad you are not beautiful. Sleep until the sermon ends and rise to trudge back through the pines, Look now, another polaroid shows her fear running into you like an electric current. But you’re already outside, so smell the pine.

Find yourself here. Come back to this closet. Now there’s only two of you and you don’t know where the others are. Panic now. Know that these polaroids will haunt you and you’ll have memory blackouts for the rest of your life. You’ll flicker in and out of existence. In out. Out in. Flicker flicker. Like you’re the one made of celluloid, not the memories. Calm down. Try to breathe. Realise your fingers are missing a couple nails. Guess what you were doing. Put your fingers in your mouth and let the pain ground your electric fear. Feel infinite, letting the drops of blood from your fingers trickle down your throat. Use your torn up fingers to scratch around some more. Note how these feel: the cold, the fear, the anger, the pain. Take good notes. Rejoice in this. You are never going to feel anything ever again.

Find a woodchip on the floor that wasn’t there before. There’s a fingernail embedded in it. Realise that it’s OK, even dead girls grow their fingernails back. Calm down. Check your pockets. Oh yeah, your pockets. Allow your fuzzy brain to incubate a plan.

Listen to the silence now, silence except for some inexplicable shuffling sounds. You got so used to the screaming, now you don’t even hear it anymore. Or maybe it is quiet. Maybe your ears don’t work, just like your eyes can no longer tell if they’re open or shut without pressing your bloody fingers into them. Guess how long you’ve been locked in this closet. Wonder why you feel so numb, why you can’t cry. When you get older, you are going to say you talked yourself out of feeling, out of emotion. You will make believe you’re better than the rest, make believe you don’t secretly long to feel something, anything, again.

Shrink as far as you can into the corner from the threshold as the closet door opens, and watch him drag her by her wrists out across the pulpit. Remember to shove your little woodchip in the frame before the door closes. Cross your fingers it doesn’t lock. Feel your heart pound. Crawl outside.

Notice her shirt is on the chapel floor. He’s touching her, running his hands all over her. He’s naked. You’ve never seen a grown man naked. Know that you will be inexplicably attracted to men twice your age for the rest of your life. Teachers especially. She has freckles speckling the canyon between her little breasts. You’re gonna be attracted to that, too.

Stop being a little girl. Pull that pocketknife out. Unfold it gently, don’t let it click. Descend the pulpit towards their pew as he’s running his raw pink penis between her scrawny white thighs. Forget crying, the girl isn’t even blinking, but you know she’s still alive because those freckled breasts are rising and falling. Concentrate. Move silently towards him, now you can see the pearls of perspiration on his back. Stab him, only once, let your little pocketknife penetrate his skin, glancing off his spine, splintering a vertebrae before slipping in between two ribs to enter the lower right ventricle of his heart. When you get older, and go to college, you will take a class where you learn that women stab once or twice, men twenty to thirty times, in out, out in, because they associate it with intercourse. Don’t you wish you were a boy. Oh, don’t you wish. Feel your little pocketknife slide in him; this doesn’t feel like it should, not at all like you thought it might. Not like a steak knife cutting bite sized pieces of mom’s supper. Feel his flesh, it’s tough, resilient, like it’s alive and it knows and it doesn’t want your little pocketknife inside it and it is pushing out against you. Use you last strength to wrench the thing out, listen to the sound it makes. That crunching, slushing, sound like boots over old snow. Oh, oh, oh, don’t you wish.

Hear your voice crack as you scream at her to run, run away, you say, run into the woods. Into the pines. In the pines. In the pines. Where the sun don’t ever shine. Where the cold wind blow. In the pines. And you run, the two of you, sparks flying of you, lost in the woods for hours and hours in the early morning. Find your way, somehow, back to camp.

Don’t listen to them when they tell you to shut up. Grit your teeth, don’t listen, the next morning, when they tell you and the other girls that he’s a good man, and they know it, they know it because he’s got jesus in his heart. Dig your missing fingernails into your other arm when they tell you that everyone’s a sinner, staring at you as they say it. Don’t repent what you don’t regret. Better don’t regret. Run your finger along that knife. You can still smell the pine.

Hide your smile when you hear he dies because he won’t take a blood transfusion. Pretend you don’t notice the way all the grownups look at you, the electricity making their hair stand on end. Pretend you’re still a kid. Yeah, that’s it, pretend you’re still a kid. Smell that pine. Oh, oh, oh, don’t you wish.

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