Home > Funerals for Horses(11)

Funerals for Horses(11)
Catherine Ryan Hyde

“Do you think that’s why he wants everyone to see it, Simon?”

Simon couldn’t imagine why he’d want that. Simon had reached the modest phase, closing himself into the closet to change into his pajamas in our room at night. He could find no explanation for a grown man, for any man, to intentionally bare himself to a stranger.

“Were those both girls down there, Simon? One of them was awfully hairy.”

“I don’t know,” he said, folding his pillow around his head. “I don’t want to know. I wish you would go to sleep.”

I stopped asking questions, but I did not go to sleep.

In fact, I tossed out Simon’s carefully knotted skeleton key and released myself back into the jungle, where I crouched, wide-eyed, long into the night.

I watched my father lie across the prone back of one figure, the one I became increasingly convinced was no woman, and saw, as if by cheap sleight of hand, my father’s great appendage disappear, though I could not imagine where it might have gone. Well, no, I could imagine, but that was all I could do. I could not confirm my own unlikely conjectures.

Meanwhile the female body coiled behind them, her head pressed into that confusing juncture, finding some contact, some purpose, I assumed, that I was simply too naive or too far away to understand.

I knelt before the show again the following night, and the night after that, feeling a mental and physical tingle which I liked and hated, sensing a lesson in progress that I must study, that I would later need. Just as I forced a first-grader to teach me the alphabet before my promotion from kindergarten, I assumed that the information would prove requisite without notice, that the test might precede the lesson.

By the second time Simon came down to catch me, I felt ready to practice on my own.

“Look, Simon,” I said, the faintest of whispers into his soft, pale ear, “look what she’s doing.” I referred to a woman, so far as I could tell, one of four in attendance, who forced a meager portion of my father’s penis into her mouth in strange, heated rhythms. “You want to try that?”

My eagerness sounded childish, beneath even my ten years of experience, unguarded.

I leaned into him so hard that I toppled him, and myself across him, onto the worn carpet of the landing.

Simon sat up, pushed me off him, wrestled me around to the banister again, clutching me so tight around the waist that I could hardly pull a full breath.

“Is that what you want to be, Ella?” he hissed in my ear, venomous as I never thought Simon would or could be. “You want to grow up to be one of those? An animal?”

On the word animal, his angry tone rang out sharp and strong, our father’s eyes shot up to the landing, and he flew to his feet, pulling Grandma Ginsberg’s hand-crocheted afghan off the back of the sofa to cover himself. Loosely woven and full of round, patterned openings, it proved a singularly unfortunate choice.

By the time he got upstairs, we’d climbed back to the attic. I don’t believe he ever witnessed our means of escape. He did not come in after us, though we could hear him usher all guests out the door.

We spent days, weeks, waiting for the long talk from our father, which never came. He simply learned to father us loosely, distantly, without benefit of eye contact.

The house fell quiet, the nights uneventful. If visitors came by night, they came too quietly to wake us.

Sleep became an easy and natural way to spend the dark hours.

A near year passed in this no man’s land of trouble, not joyous by any means, but lacking immediate, pressing pain.

Then some evidence of activity recurred, though it recurred quietly. If not for the click of the front door latch, we might have suspected nothing at all. Simon found a big kitchen pot to keep under my bed, and commandeered a roll of toilet paper, to help me through the long nights.

I would not have gone downstairs even if I had dared, owing to my decision, with the youthful finality of a floodgate snapping shut against pressure, that I would not grow up to be an animal.

This was my brother Simon’s doing, and none of my own.

About this time DeeDee began to give advice.

Just go, she would say. Just get out.

But Simon, now seventeen, and I, just eleven, could not imagine it. We would never question DeeDee’s wisdom, but, go where? Eat what? Stay safe how?

No, surely that was easy for DeeDee to say.

And it was funny, about the things DeeDee would say. I never heard them, at least, not in these early years. No voices talked in my ears. Simon and I never compared notes as to what thoughts we would credit to her presence.

We simply talked out our reactions to her suggestions, never worrying that our perceptions might differ, never questioning their source.

» Fallen Too Far (Rosemary Beach #1) read online
» Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) read online
» New Moon (Twilight #2) read online
» Unseen Messages read online
» Insurgent (Divergent #2) read online
» The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) read online
» Eclipse (Twilight #3) read online
» Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) read online
» Never Too Far (Rosemary Beach #2) read online
» Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) read online
» Rush Too Far (Rosemary Beach #4) read online
» Divergent (Divergent #1) read online
» The Darkest Seduction (Lords of the Underwo read online
» Allegiant (Divergent #3) read online
» Breakable (Contours of the Heart #2) read online
» Twilight (Twilight #1) read online
» Easy (Contours of the Heart #1) read online
» Forever Too Far (Rosemary Beach #3) read online
» Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4) read online
» Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5) read online
» I Am Legend read online