Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Tale of a Wail

(Another storyseed that got abandoned. Note the gobstopper theme in this one.)

A Tail of a Wail
by Joy Renee

Her mother would tell the tale for forty years of how Abigail Ames sucked in her first breath and released it in a vibrato wail, with no impetus but surprise and how it took her seven years to break her daughter of the embarrassing habit of howling in the face of the tiniest disappointment. And her mother had broken her well. So well that she didn’t cry when at age eight, she watched her brother’s dog Griswald break the neck of her kitten Calypso while her Brother Darcy stood by laughing. So well that she didn’t cry out at age ten when Darcy and his buddy Curtis strung a rope over a high tree branch and put a noose around her neck and slowly tightened it until crying out would have been impossible anyway as simply drawing breath burned like fire. When they lifted her into the tangle of leaves and branches and then let go of the rope so that she fell, breaking her right arm and her left ankle, still she was silent.

Her self-enforced silence began the night of her seventh birthday when her mortified mother removed her from the dinner party after she let loose an endless open-mouthed howl when eleven year old Darcy blew out her candles for her and told her that meant he had just stolen her wish. Her wish had been to someday sing the part of Annie in the Broadway musical. It didn’t strike her that the transference of such a wish to her brother was a ludicrous concept. All she had registered was the irrevocable loss of hope. She was inconsolable. So her mother took her to her room and lectured her on the protocols of social engagements and the expediency of stiff upper lips for young ladies. “If you simply must cry then go somewhere where no one can hear you. And if it is impossible to do that then at least get off alone and put your hand over your mouth like this.” Her mother placed Abigail’s own hand over her mouth and pressed “There, see? You can cry as hard as you want and no one can hear. Pretty soon you will learn to do it without even using your hand. Once you learn to do it without screwing up your face into that unsightly mess, you can scream and cry and carry on in a crowd without even disturbing your make-up.”

Abigail took the lecture to heart. She never again cried out loud. But nor did she ever again sing out loud. Darcy had stolen her wish after all. The first of many precious things he stole from her. And now he was about to take from her the last precious thing because he refused to take her silence in lieu of her promise of eternal silence.

“Swear on what, Darcy?” she asked. “On my purity? On my honor? You took those from me long ago. And what point is there to swearing an oath to an man without honor? It would be nothing but babble in his ears, easy enough to disregard on a whim.”

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