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Hear Her Story

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Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2295
Location: SF
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I wrote this in one of my fiction classes. It's rather obviously inspired by Basic Eight. There are bits that are supposed to be italicized, but I'm too lazy for that so here you go, kiddos.

Hear Her Story
By Lynn Dalsing

Why do we call people brilliant? The smart ones I mean. When you get right down to it, brilliant doesn’t mean anything more than shining. And there’s only one thing in the universe that shines of its own volition, a star.

A star is like a self-contained, persistent explosion, not the most complimentary of comparisons. As a kid, I had a video game about the solar system. There was this demonstration of what would happen to the sun over the next couple billion years. So in about five billion years, those of us who are still around will get swallowed up in a ball of flame from the sun. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for me. Then it’ll keep that up for a while, shrinking and growing, wavering with the damage already done, not sure if that’s what it really wants to do. Finally, the sun collapses in on itself so tightly that a teaspoon of its dust would weigh two tons.

That’s what happens to brilliant things, they can’t contain themselves, and then they can’t sustain themselves. They end up dense, dark objects, alone in the dark with their teaspoons and tons. Why don’t we just have done with it and call smart people black holes? They take in everything they can and don’t give anything back. Overall, that seems a smart thing to do. We could remark on their staggering gravitational pull rather than their luminosity.

But I’m getting everything mixed up. Which leads to a brilliant segue, how mixed up I was whenever I met Jason Sanger.

“Do you have any goldenrod copy paper?”

“Would yellow do?” asked Mrs. Kerns, the school secretary.

“I don’t know. I don’t think that’s the same thing. Coach Lovely specifically asked for the goldenrod.” A puzzled pause. “What do you think?”

“Sweetie, I don’t know. I don’t know where the goldenrod paper is.”

I rolled my eyes. “I know where it is. I’ll get it in a minute, Mrs. Kerns.”

“Thank you, Medea.”

As an aide in the principal’s office, I was about the only one who knew where to find anything: staples, paper clips, stationery, letter openers, the principal’s favorite coffee mug, the third floor corridor. I slammed the last staple onto a strip of red butcher paper for the new bulletin board and saw the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever known. Not that this came as a surprise. I could recognize Jason’s voice from two floors away, which meant that I usually stayed about two floors away from him if I could. I always managed to do something idiotic around him. He came for dinner at our house, and I spilled hot soup on him. I went to watch my brother and Jason in a basketball game, and tripped down the bleacher stairs.

“It’s on the top shelf over there. Let me get a chair,” I said.

“No, it’s no problem. I’ll just grab it.” Jason executed a jump, ill-fated from the moment it was conceived, and brought three reams of colored paper down on himself. “I guess that’s why your brother is captain of the team.”

I picked up the goldenrod paper and handed it to him. “Yeah, it’s funny, but I got all the klutzy genes in my family.”

“Hey, you’re alright. Zach’ll make a ball player out of you yet.”

“He’ll keep trying at any rate.”

He smiled. “Hey, uh, thanks for the paper.” He frowned. “I mean thanks for finding the paper. Mr. Lovely said it was important. So I guess I better get it back to him.”

“Yeah, no problem. Good luck in the game tonight.” I tried not to watch him walk down the hall and tripped over my own feet on the way back to the bulletin board.

“What a cute little pair you two make,” Mrs. Kerns said.

I rolled my eyes. At least those muscles were well coordinated.

“When I was your age I would have killed for a boy that cute.”

It’s funny. I’d forgotten she said that. That was a brilliant black hole of a line.

So you’re reading this in trashy tabloid that you’d never admit to buying every week and hiding underneath the cushions of the couch so your kids won’t see it. Or maybe you’re not. You could be reading it in Newsweek. Or Playboy, I should definitely try for Playboy. That’s where the Unabomber got published. Hey, there’s got to be some fabulous writing in there, everyone reads it for the articles.

And anyway, there’s some inane teaser on the cover (unless of course it is Playboy, in which case I doubt I make the cover, but some sacrifices are worth making. However, let’s go with the assumption that it’s a tabloid; after all most people’s couches are a tad uncomfortable.)that says, “Hear her story! The Adolescent Assassin.” I wouldn’t describe myself as an Assassin. Although the description does have its accurate points. When it’s capitalized, it means a member of a secret Islamic order that started in the 11th Century. They believed it was their religious duty to harass and kill their enemies. I’ll bet you didn’t know that.

So, kiddies, the essential point to remember here is don’t piss off someone who’s well-read. It was a closed casket funeral, or I’d have a picture to demonstrate the point.

Oh, I’m kidding. Chill the fuck out. I’ve still got a sense of humor, you know. Besides, they didn’t even let me go to the funeral. Either of them.

That’s the thing people really get onto me about. “How could you do that to your brother?” I didn’t do anything. Which I guess is the point.

You’ll remember my brother, the captain of the basketball team (Note how I cleverly inserted that bit earlier. I’m definitely good enough for Playboy). We were the perfect brother-sister team. He played sports and made friends and went to wild and crazy parties. I got good grades and sat in the back corner of the class and lusted after his best friend. We could have been a cheesy teen movie if things had gone differently. Or maybe if I had been different. Or, let’s not forget, if Jason had been different.

So, Brother Zach found out about the attraction the female lead (me) had for the male lead (Jason) and made an ass of himself. Of course, I would never hurt my brother, but sometimes people are clumsy. He fell down the stairs. There’s been some question about whether this is true. Well, about whether I pushed him. Let me set it straight.

My parents left for work early in the mornings. They had a 45 minute commute and an overzealous determination to succeed. Zach drove me to school, except when he decided to skip or when he was going to make me late. Then I walked. No eggs and bacon breakfasts prepared for us. Before all you perfect mommies out there gasp and say, “I knew it,” remember that you’re reading Playboy, or at least I hope you are.

On this particular morning, the one before I got the goldenrod paper for Jason, Zach teased me about Jason. Nothing new, but annoying as always. He laughed because I circled Jason’s name in hearts on all the basketball programs.

“Jason and Medea, sitting in a tree.” Well, you get the idea. Brilliant boy, my brother.

The basement door was open; it always was in the mornings. My parents don’t keep it that way anymore. We used to use the space at the top of the stairs as a coat closet. My brother had found my diary and quoted all the parts he found most amusing.

“If only he would notice me. But he only comes to talk to my brother. I just know we should be together.” Yeah, yeah, read your own diary sometime. It isn’t fucking Shakespeare just because you wrote it.

So that’s it. My brother was reading and trying to get his coat out of the closet at the same time. He stepped wrong and fell. And when he hit the concrete floor at the bottom, the medical examiner says he broke his neck. He probably would have been paralyzed if he’d gotten medical attention right away. He didn’t.

“Zach,” I said. No answer.

“Zach.” I tried again. An even more emphatic non-answer.

I looked down the steps. Zach had managed to grab the coat just before he fell. The sight wasn’t all that traumatizing because the coat hid his face and broken neck. It looked like a red and white letterman jacket that had sprouted a body. Trying to figure out how the jacket would talk, through one of the arm holes or from the neck, sent me off into a laughing fit.

About ten minutes later, I realized that if I was going to have to walk to school, I had better start out. My brother had let go of my diary, and it lay about halfway down the steps. I imagine it must be pretty difficult to hold onto a little book while your body is bouncing down a flight of stairs (I’m extrapolating here of course. I didn’t actually see his body bounce). I ran down the stairs and grabbed my diary. Then I put on my coat, gloves and scarf and left for school.

So, why? Why, why, why? Because he was teasing me, because it would make Jason captain of the basketball team, because I would kill for a boy like that. And just maybe because I was upset, overwrought, how often has your brother fallen down the stairs and lain there at the bottom in a twisted heap? It hadn’t happened to me before. Maybe I just couldn’t deal with it. I went to school because I was in denial. My brother was going to follow me, but everyone knew how often he was late to first period. I acted normal all day long and hung out after school with my friends until the game because I genuinely didn’t remember what happened. Maybe.

So here’s my question, what are you hoping to get out of this? What is the point of reading about the Adolescent Assassin, the Homicidal High-Schooler, the School-Girl Slaughterer, or Miss Murder? Why, why, why?

Honestly, I’m not all that concerned. I don’t even like you. You pick up tabloids in the grocery store, look around you surreptitiously, and toss it on the conveyor belt, ready with a convenient lie about your daughter’s school project or a gag gift for your mother. Well, get this. Nobody cares. Not one single person. That’s the difference between you and me.

Now let’s think like investigators. We know that I walked to school. We can place me at school in eighth period finding goldenrod paper for Jason; I was there until three. We know that I didn’t leave after school. I waited for the start of the four o’clock basketball game. The varsity girls’ team played at four. Then the boys played at 5:30. You can put my parents at home around 6:30, but they didn’t notice the lump at the bottom of the stairs until nearly seven. After all, why would they be looking for Zach? He was supposed to be at the game, remember?

So how did I do it? How did a girl manage to overpower a big strong basketball player like Jason? Go back to eighth period. Remember I was stuffing mailboxes? Remember I knew where everything was?

Well, I lied. I could never keep track of the staple remover. I always used the letter opener to pull staples out. So rewind to before Jason came in. I was taking orange paper off the bulletin board using the letter opener. And I took it. Why? I don’t know. Why do you take the pen your waitress brings you to sign your credit card slip at your favorite restaurant? Because you don’t think about it. Do you mean to steal the pen you write out your deposit slip with at the bank? Of course not. That’s why they attach polite chains to them. From now on, maybe people should keep their letter openers chained up. Although if you start down that path, you aren’t going to have anything unchained.

The basketball game. How many times have I mentioned that? You knew it was going to be important, didn’t you? Although, if you’re picking up a tabloid to read about me, you probably already knew that this game was important. You Prying Peruser, you Nosy Newsreader, you Snooping Scanner, you.

Everyone wondered where my brother was, and I shrugged and said I left before him. “You know how he is, always late or skipping.” At least, I assume that’s what happened. I don’t remember much. I remember Jason starting and Jason playing. I remember Jason shooting a perfect free throw and Jason sweating. I remember Jason winning and Jason kissing a girl on the sidelines when the game was over.

Can you believe it? The boy I loved, the boy I would kill for, the boy I would do anything for was kissing another girl. It was terrible, crushing, horrible, and not unexpected.

Give me a fucking break. Did you think I didn’t know? Did you think there was anything I didn’t know about Jason? Of course I knew. But it was still horrible. And I’d had a really bad day. Remember, I had to walk to school. Oh, Jesus, I told you I still had a sense of humor. My brother died too.

Her name was Sheri Meyer. I should have gotten her too. Oh what, you’ve been waiting for me to show regret. Well, that’s what I regret.

So I waited by Jason’s car while he talked to local sports reporters and his friends and his teammates. He had parked in the corner of the parking lot far from the school. He had probably been late that morning himself. It was freezing cold out and pitch black. I didn’t hear the sirens as an ambulance raced to my already stiff dead brother as one journalist charmingly suggested in her recreation of the scene.

When Jason came out, everyone else had already left. And I had my letter opener in my gloved hand. He walked up to the car and said, “Hey, Medea, you want a ride home I guess. I wonder why your brother didn’t show up.”

“He’s dead.”

“Yeah, coach is going to kill him. We could have lost that game without your brother.” He reached to open the passenger side door. What a brilliant, well-mannered boy. And I stabbed him in the heart.

Well, not really, but it would have been lovely if I had. Poetic justice of a sort. No, there’s bone in the way. I couldn’t have stabbed him in the heart. I stabbed him in the neck. In the stomach. Anywhere I could, really.

And you want to hear the gory details. It’s like cutting an orange or a tomato. At first the skin resists, and then the blade slides right through. It takes considerably more strength of course.

A person who has slit their wrists takes 45 minutes to bleed to death. Even in a tub of water. They stay conscious throughout most of that time. I think I must have done some real damage, maybe punctured his trachea, because I stayed with him until he stopped breathing, and it didn’t take anywhere near that long. I don’t think.

He passed out pretty quickly, probably from shock. And I just sat there with him. Sanguine Sanger. Did you know that sanguine, in addition to meaning optimistic, also means blood red? It comes from medieval physiology. People used to believe that blood was one of the humors of the body. When people had blood as their dominant humor they were cheerful. That’s why the word has such widely varying meanings.

Then I went home. He stopped breathing, and I went home. Blood-spattered, I went home to my grieving parents. That’s it. There’s no moral, no point. Nothing to learn, just two very dead boys. And brilliant little me.
Lynn, Reading Kafka in a hospital is generally redundant. Better just to wander the halls randomly opening doors.

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