Norah

United States

18 | she/they | hypothetical astronaut | ekphrastic poet | haunted house

Message to Readers

fixed up some mistakes that are probably mostly because I wrote the whole thing on a frenzy at 11:00 last night. Anyway, this is a piece about the monsters inside of us. I wrote it specifically with generational trauma in mind, but it can be interpreted many different ways.

no answers but the kitchen sink

November 24, 2019

FREE WRITING

6
“I don’t know why you're here,” I say before heaving into the toilet again, my whole body shaking. 
    “Shush,” the woman who is holding my hair back and rubbing my shoulders says. Her hands are cold enough to hurt and I want to tell her to stop, but she pulls my head back by my hair before I can get any words out. She looks me in my eyes with her gaunt and tired face. “You will find that life does not have many clear answers, bubelah,” she says, with her voice like iron, her accent is ancient.
    I groan and wipe my mouth of vomit. I want to cry, but I can tell that she wouldn’t stand for that. Instead I grunt and try to shake her off me. She does not budge, a stone monument. She smooths my hair back in what must be an attempt to be gentle. 
    “I don’t know how to make it stop,” I say, swaying on my knees on the bathroom floor. 
    “I know,” she says, “If it is worth anything to you, I am sorry.”
    I laugh, before cringing, my whole body is an ache. “You don’t sound sorry.”
    
    I saw her for the first time in my living room, on the couch, legs crossed. She looked very young and very old at the same time, wearing only a formless grey dress and a headscarf. 
I screamed a little bit, and she looked at me like she saw right through me, like I was the ghost, transparent in all my apparent transgressions. I ran to the kitchen and threw up in the kitchen sink. That was the beginning. 

    “You know this isn’t a punishment, yes?” She says, rubbing in between my shoulder blades while I stumble to my bed, dragging a trash can with me. 
    “It’s not?” 
    “No. 
    “Then what is it?” 
    “No clear answers, bubelah,” she says. I fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow. 

    I wake in the middle of the night covered in sweat. She is hovering over me like a night terror and I stifle my urge to scream, again. She’s swaying and looking at me with a kind of worried concentration, like she’s trying to draw something out of me. I break her focus. 
    “Back to sleep,” she says like a warning, a cold hand on my forehead. Almost against my will I go back under. 
    
    She sits next to me in bed as I start to eat saltines and water. “It’s not all gone,” she warns. 
    “What?” 
    She simply shakes her head. I can’t remember my dream, but I know I screamed, my voice is sore and scratchy. She is sitting with her bony legs placed carefully next to one another above my bedding, her back stiff. 
    “Who are you?” She shakes her head again, then places one of her frigid hands on my knee. 
    She starts crying first. It is a slow and awful thing, and I don’t notice it immediately. I can hear terrible noises coming from somewhere, and then I realize I am making them: great heaving gasps, wild and horrible, like a sick animal. That’s me, I think, as I look at her face, covered in steady, practiced tears, I’m sick. We cry together for a long time, then she finally stops, and smiles at me, gently, the only gentle thing she’s done. I take one breath. Another. I close my eyes, her hand is over my forehead.
    She is gone before I open my eyes. I am left with an empty bed, and the stink of sick. And a weight, a heavy weight I did not know I carried: that weight is gone.
bubelah is a yiddish term of endearment, roughly translated it can mean "sweetheart"

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3 Comments
  • JakeFrommStateFarm

    Wow, this is really good! You should enter this in the contest I'm hosting!


    about 1 year ago
  • Maryam Q

    Competition results are out... Thank you so much for participating! https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/138396/version/268432


    about 1 year ago
  • Anha

    october wtw highlights are live!
    https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/131542/version/264425


    about 1 year ago