Bewildering Stories

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Made It Way Up

by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

part 2

Part 1 appears in this issue.


This is my pet poem. I give it things like things, like Essa told me to. Not like I give Nine. Nine bit me and made me bleed so she had to have carrots with blood on them. I gave those words to my poem but I had to imagine it making its own face and I had to use mine. Mine didn’t work so well.

I don’t think I’ll give it to dad. He doesn’t understand a lot of things on the TV and what Essa said was, If it’s yours, you understand it. And this is mine and I can take care of it of you.

You don’t know it but you had a bigger brother. Or a sister and she got written over. Because it was dark and dad just had one of his ideas. I heard his light go on but didn’t see it with the blankets over my head and my flashlight on anyways. He banged his knee or something on the side of the door. That’s why he said what he said. Those words bring a poem down, Essa. Maybe he was a little blind because of going night to day to night again. He didn’t look at what he grabbed. So he wrote over your brother or sister with a red crayon.

When I gave him a sausage and an egg I made myself for breakfast in the morning, he was staring and his eyes were all colored with crayon. He didn’t understand what he scribbled. He was holding it in one hand and he crumpled it up with one hand, opening and closing his fist like a mouth, gobble gobble, until I had to make you.

Then he called mommy and they sounded just like yesterday so I went to Essa’s house. She was on the porch in her bathrobe and writing and smelling like coffee breath. She gave me a hug with one arm. She was all warm from rubbing herself too hard with the towel. She does that to get all the cold water off.

I said, “I’m going to play in the forest today.”

She said, “With all your little friends, huh?” and licked the tip of her pen to get the ink wet and turn her tongue black.

“That’s right,” I said. “Fawns and beavers.”

“What’s that? Prawns and lemurs?” She wrote it down. Hey, I said. That’s mine; that goes in my poem. Too late, she said. It’s mine now. And she tickled me with one hand which is more than enough.

Lane came outside. He forgot to close the door.

“Ready for school, kid?” he asked me. He was looking right at the sun. I made a face. Poems don’t need school. They need words. He wouldn’t have seen me anyway because of the big green-orange splotch on his eyes right where the sun used to be. Essa let her robe slip to grab up as much of a sun beam as she could.

She said, “Today we’re going to learn about geology.”

“What’s that?” I asked.


“Just rocks?”

“We’ll go skipping stones.”

“Have fun with that,” said Lane. He took his coffee out to the barn to get in an hour of playing before it was time for him to get in Laddy and go down the hill. Essa played a few thumb wars with me and I let her win. She needed to. Dad went out and paused before he slid the barn door open. He looked over at us and gave me a little wave. Essa waved back. I won that one.

Today, I didn’t say, we’re going to learn about her super powers. How she makes everything all green just by looking at it. Except for in the No Kell Zone, which is where I don’t have any words for at all. I asked her why she doesn’t work there and all she said was that she tried and couldn’t pay attention. You can’t do anything if you can’t pay attention.

That’s why Nine bit me. He forgot I was me because he wasn’t paying attention, so he bit me. Right on the finger where I hold my pencil. That’s why he just sits in his cage all day with his nose going up and down. His eyes don’t go if his head doesn’t. He never just sits still and watches the TV.

Sometimes I try to watch it in the black bits of his eyes but he always moves too much and I can’t tell if it’s the guy with the wavy hair or the girl with the purple suit who says that the president was waving and was very happy for us.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2004 by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

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