Can you swallow a live fish? that is what he asked me, just before he disappeared taking with him the family violin and the suitcase full of baby teeth. If there was a purpose to this alarming question I have yet to discern it. I said nothing. You see, at that time I was in my mute period. I did not communicate, not even through semaphore or writing. I folded wings of silence across my mouth. I kept mum.
I followed him to the woods. He would navigate by the stars, using a pair of our mother's embroidery scissors as a sextant. He was familiar with all the constellations consolations. He went looking for the missing sisters. I know that now. I know that he was seeking their ghosts, looking among the badger sets, the broken bicycles, the mushrooms, for their linked arms, linked smiles.
But he never saw me. I was missing in a different way. I would flit around him, begging him to notice. I would take bricks and engrave them with words from my bleeding nails, shatter his windows with them, warm his bed with them.
The forest was the right place for us then. A slattern wind whipped our legs and blew smoke from our inexpertly rolled cigarettes back into our faces. The trees moaned as we carved our names into their trunks. But I would not talk to him, no matter how he asked. Most of the time I could not even work out what his questions meant, let alone how i might answer them.Who abandoned you? he asked, as though I was a feather dropping from a bird. Can you blow a the earth's true note? Can you swallow a live fish? he asked, prising my mouth open to look at the shy red snapper of my tongue, lying there.
The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele