The Day That Never Was
A #SurvivorStory by Donald for his sister
No account equals no offence, no offence equals no victim, no victim………
There were no feet stomping on baked clay, no fists slamming on linen clad tables, no outrage, no doors banging, no Judges oak hammer hammering down upon the judicial bench in hostile uproar shouting “you be damned if you do Sir!” condemnation, there was just me and a safety pin for an ear pick, semi darkness, a gingham apron for a frock, and the uneasy sound of silence mixed with small utterances when my sister fell that first time.
Grandfather says wintertime’s sometimes throw up days that are so void of circumstances that they don’t account for much of anything, he calls them “fodder days”, days that aren’t really days at all but are so necessary for human life, such days have what he calls, a practical “pause-ational” function, for they are nondescript days that do little else other than to eat up not-so-precious time in a lifetime and they give needed pause to the accumulated calamity of longevity: sort of like taking a much needed breath halfway, or like treading water for a moment before continuing on to the far shore; it’s about not thinking so much on those days, at least that’s how grandfather tells it; a dull sunrise two hours late, a driving morning rain, a busted water pipe, a stolen bottle of milk, and a damp unattended newspaper slumped over an absent neighbors steel gate post, that’s the makings of a day that never was.
I was perhaps five years old when I stood and looked over the sparsely painted cast iron rails of my cot labeled Birmingham, perhaps I’d already been sleeping, I cannot say, but now I was standing, listening cautiously, curiously, looking ever farther down below, wondering at what I knew not? With all blinds drawn and in the fullest darkness of a storm filled afternoon I stood there on soft tiptoes stretching over. Without the benefit of sight I was all thoughts only, in my mind I was searching, assessing, separating, and categorising more immediate sounds from those of other sounds which I perceived to be merely external ones from the constant hum of the storm outside. Looking downward through the obstructive haze to where I thought I heard small sounds perhaps familiar to me, as if bantams or mice were under my bed foraging or scratching about there for loose grain. Standing there my eyes stretched themselves trying to soak up the little light that was to be had in that room, then suddenly I saw there down below in the darkness I saw my father’s flannel clad back for the first time as he rose and fell in his peculiar way, and below him still I thought I caught sight of my sister, her small frame lay mostly hidden beneath him. I think he must have felt my narrow awkward stare upon his clad back, or maybe he caught her fleeting glimpse of me, for he rose up one time and kept on rising, and as he rose up there down below him I saw some scant light fall upon my sister there, and she was there partially lit just as I had thought her to be there. There were no expressions exchanged, no anything, just the thought of no thoughts and an ever-mounting anguished perplexity, and a sense of a deep longing for something else, for some other place not there, I felt it, I felt her and I felt she felt it to, we felt so much for that which we could not understand. Just then Father turns his face toward me quietly; his expression is not remarkable, as he looks upon me his right arm rises up from the floor below and soon it joins us, in his hand there is a pistol, he looks to me and calmly places the small gun to my head and explains its purpose to me as if he were reading from the ‘5 Minute Miracle Cake box’, “two cups of flour, one pound of butter,” but his words were not that, “I pull this trigger here, the bullet comes out of that hole there, and your ugly little head is splattered all over that wall behind you, now shusshh your little face, lay down, roll over, close your eyes, and keep your hole shut”………….Even at five years old I knew him too well, and he could not have explained it more clearly to me that which I must now do, and I knew through cultivated instinct the full weight of his instruction and the consequences of a feigned befuddled refusal.
My eyes were still as big as saucers as I lowered myself back to the bedding, still fumbling and trying to absorb the little light to be had in that room, that scant light which my sisters body had taken up just moments before . My chest was pounding as I lay myself down and I was nothing much more than a small paltry creature built of unsettled threads of pure longing and pure yearning, an anguished type of yearning which knew no answers and tugged hopelessly on nothing more than thin air for a lost sister that lay hidden again from that fading light and from me, she was hidden again from the day that was soon to be listed as another day that never was.
As I lay to face the wall again I realised for the first time that there was only one dominant color in that room, it was blue, a blue wall, a blue ceiling, a blue flannel shirt, the translucent blue chest of my sister, a translucent crystalline sort of blue that marked that site where our shared anguish grew. As I lay and faced the wall I clutched more anxiously at the gingham apron that covered me so scantily, pulling quietly behind me at the openings and at the bed covers gathered there.
The day-long storm throws its full weight about outside the blinded window in frantic squalls. Amongst the flying debris I can hear the old assembly hall door which is banging rhythmically in the far off distance in constant, seemingly purposeful short bursts maybe just a half second apart, and to my young ears it sounds like it, that door, that door with flaking green paint and a makeshift wire for a latch, has now taken on an authority and a life of its own and is now assuming the position of the storms conductor, and is through its rapid banging, driving and instructing the storms tempo and velocity, tap tap……. tap, tap tap…..tap tap tap, tap, tap, the storm follows its instruction and throws itself about in constant violent bursts as if trying to please.
I return my thoughts to the silence of the house. Through the darkness I look at the many marks on the wall that are now visible to me, the scuffs, the greasy smears from other times, and I wonder at the moments when they arrived there, a playful fight between two brothers, work boots hurriedly thrown across a bed after a misspent day’s work, a young child’s mucus rich bronchial condition during many reluctant days confined to a bed where small fingers roam endlessly from weeping eyes and seeping nose to wall and then back again time and again. Again I wonder at blue, I feel blue is different from other colours for it generates so little emotion. I leave thoughts of blue alone and as I close my eyes a little I try to feel nothing, and as I wish for nothing soon nothing is felt, but nothing lasts only for a moment and soon checked feeling returns to me anew. In that room we try to forget that……that which is not well understand
My sister and I were five and seven years old when nothing happened, and so nothing ever came of it, for nothing ever comes of nothing and so nothing was got, that is the nature of nothing, no victims lay there and no noted offence is testimony to the fact, a pristine errant fact that lasts to this day………….another day that never was…………..