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NINE LIVES OF XEN: Chapter 24, What M. saw

Chapter 24 of the serialized fiction, “Nine Lives of Xen.”

hate feeling helpless. I want to hate my family. My brother and his wife and the baby. I want to hate them for being here. But I cannot hate them. I cannot hate them and I cannot blame them. So I hate being helpless. I hate myself.

I can hear as the lady behind the desk tells my brother about the way this place is run. I cannot lift my head to see her. She sounds nice. I stare at the floor. I want to tell them I do not want to live here. But I do not want to make it any more hard for them.

Things changed when the baby came. I liked seeing her face, but her crying made me sad. Then I would cry. I could feel I was getting worse. This is the best thing for them. But I still hate it.

I try and remember good times so I don’t feel so sad. I do not want to cry.  I cry too much and it makes my brother and his wife feel bad. 

My first memory is “hot.” I was very hot when I was young. I remember snow and being hot. I remember tall people talking quiet around me. They gave me medicine that tasted bad. I remember the little white pills. They tasted like when I would taste the white chalk. They made me feel less hot. I always think of hot when I see snow.

When I was young I did not know anything was wrong. I liked to laugh and sing and play and sometimes I would cry, but not a lot of the times. I thought people could understand what I was saying. But people did not answer me when I asked a question. People talked around me like I was not there. They would say ice killed my dad. Now I am scared of ice. But ice is cold and snow is hot. So snow is OK. But hot turned out to be bad.

I remember when my hand started curling. I do not know a better word. It was fine, then it started curling. My fingers wanted to touch inside my hand. I could not open it. When I tried I would cry because I did not know how to use my hand anymore. I tried to feel better by singing, but people’s faces would look sad when I sang and sometimes they would tell me to be quiet. So I sang less and cried more.

I like music. Sometimes I hear music and forget that people do not like when I sing, but I get excited and sing along.  If I do this when we are away from the house and people stare, my brother takes me away. It is easier for him to do that because I now have to sit in a chair all the time. I do not know how to make my legs work anymore. They did not curl like my hand. But I think I must have forgot how to use them because I cannot walk anymore.

My brother will take me away if I do something he does not like. I try and not do those things, but sometimes I forget.  I like music too much to remember not to sing. I like the sound.

I want to know why I am different because I did not know that I was until it was very late. I thought I was like everyone else. I thought everyone was made happy by music. So happy they had to sing out loud. I thought everyone could understand my talking. I thought they liked snow but were scared of ice. Because ice killed my dad.

I do not know what killed my mom. She was never there and no one told me or talked about it when they forgot I was there. I would be scared of what killed my mom, like I am scared of ice.

I went to school for a little. I liked school. They let me sing and would put music makers in my hand, and I could make my own music. I was very happy. I had to stop going to school because my brother and his wife could not ‘ford to take me anymore. I was mad that I could not go to school. I was mad that they could not ‘ford it. They would talk and say I was being difficult.

My brother always looks sad, and his wife is not mean but always sounds serious. She never sings or looks happy. I did not want to be difficult, but I wanted to go to school. I stopped eating because I was upset, and my brother said he could not take this anymore. I heard them talk about sending me somewhere. I was happy because I thought I was going to school. And they tried to tell me the place I was going would be my new home, and I got very happy because I thought I was going to live at school. 

But the place they took me is not school. They brought me to this place. I could tell it was not school. There were no other people like me. They were old.  Everyone looked sad. I tried to say I did not want to be here but no one could understand my words. My brother told me to calm down. He said I was happy before—why not now? I tried to say that this was not school. I tried to say that there was no music here. But he did not understand my words.

I saw him start to cry so I stopped trying to talk. I did not want to make him sad. I wanted to live at school, but I was going to live here instead. I was not happy. But I did not want my brother to be not happy also.

So I sit here while the person I cannot see talks. I look down and wish I could say words that people know. I wish that I can sing or go to school or not be afraid of ice. I wish my hand would not curl and touch itself or that I could remember how to walk. I wish lots of things and I am not listening to what is being said.  Too many big words. I look around, not wanting to hate my brother and his wife and the baby. I am hating my body and my head. I don’t want to cry so I keep looking around.

And then I see a cat. He is looking right at me. I do not know how I know he is a he, but he is. I see his eyes are looking at me and he is not moving. I see his eyes and I do not want to look around anymore. I do not want to cry. I see him and I want to sing. I am not afraid. I look in his eyes and I feel safe. I feel loved.

Anthony David Lawson is the author of “Novel,” as well as a local playwright, director and actor. He will write a piece of prose presented in parts every other week in encore throughout 2015, entitled “The Nine Lives of Xen.”

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