Silverwood: Chapter 10


Hello Dad, It’s me, Helen, again. It’s late and mom’s out somewhere and Henry’s asleep. There’s your status update on the whereabouts of the family.

Today I found a couple of pictures in the bottom of a box that I’d never seen before. One of them is of you and me and I look like I’m about three years old. You are holding me up in your arms and I’m grabbing onto your hair. We look like we are at some old castle or something. Maybe we were on a trip.

The other picture is you and Uncle Christopher playing in your band. You are blurry but I can tell it’s you, and Uncle Christopher is in focus. Christopher has the sides of his head shaved. You’re playing guitar or bass and Christopher is screaming with a microphone.

I found the photos together, so maybe they come from around the same time? You look the same age in both of them.

It made me think about what it was like being the size I was in that picture of you and me. It’s funny how in memories everything is big and up high because we’re so short. I remember you being tall and strong, no surprise there. I remember you laughing a lot. And Mom laughing a lot. The sounds of both of you laughing. I remember gravel or dirt roads and stone walls and falling and skinning my knee and Mom telling me not to run. There was some kind of a spoon that you used to feed me with where the handle curved back around on itself. I think I tried to grab it a lot and you didn’t want me to do that. I remember sitting on a wood table and you looking around for that spoon and asking Mom where is the spoon and the sound of a door opening and closing. Why do I think all this was in a castle? That’s weird. I’m probably blending things together.

I remember one time I asked Mom what your job was and she told me that you were an Agent. She said she was an Agent also. You both had the same job. I remember thinking that was funny. I thought you literally had the same job like you went around doing the same things at the same time. Like conjoined twins.

Mom doesn’t say she’s an Agent any more. She just repeats the line about keeping us safe.

After you went away, I asked Mom why and she said it was because certain people wanted to keep her and you apart. I asked if that was because someone was jealous. She said that it’s because ‘we have kids like you and your brother’ and also “we have to stay one step ahead of things.’

She didn’t explain what that meant. Every parent thinks their kids are special. Shoot, I remember this kid Martha about three schools ago – wow. That girl could do nothing wrong. She would grab your arm and dig her fingernails into you and leave a row of red gashes that stayed there for a week. She was pure evil. But nobody could say word number one to her mom. Little Miss Martha was perfect. None of us could possibly understand how special Martha was. What a struggle it was for Martha to put up with everyone else because she was so much smarter and more talented than the other kids and really she should have been at a special school, if there was one that could challenge her, but as it was she was stuck here with all the inferior kids. Not being challenged. So I guess her only alternative was to torment everyone while the grownups pretended it wasn’t happening. Because Martha was so special.

I wonder what ever happened to Martha. No, I don’t.

I think parents want to know their kids are going to make it in the world and that they have what it takes to survive in one way or another. And so they treat their kids like a singular case. Mom’s no different. I can understand that.
That didn’t explain why people would do something weird like keep you and Mom apart, though. I don’t see what that accomplishes.

That’s what Deanna Carson did, two schools ago. She liked this guy Derek. She was obsessed with him. She went so far as to say that she had the right to Derek because “Deanna and Derek” sounded better than, say, Britta and Derek. The only problem was that Derek actually liked Britta. I don’t think the sounds of their names factored too much into Derek’s thinking.

Anyway, Deanna hatched this back-stabbing scheme to make it so that Britta and Derek never saw each other by becoming Britta’s very best friend in the whole universe and monopolizing one hundred percent of her time going to movies and taking all their classes together and just being in the way. The idea was to keep them apart and maybe they would forget each other existed and then someday Derek would wake up and realize that yes, “Deanna and Derek” really does sound better and why didn’t he realize that before so of course they should get married.

I don’t think it worked. If people really like each other they are probably going to find some way to be together. That’s what I think.

Every day I look at the knife you sent me and every day I imagine it lighting up and you coming in the door and laughing your laugh. After you left I remember sometimes in the middle of the night I would hear mom talking to you over a pirated Agent comms channel. We called it the pirate channel and I imagined everyone with eye patches and hats. Mom would come in and let me say goodnight before I would go back to sleep. Your face was hard to see with all the static. In fact it was pretty difficult to tell that it was you at all. But I would concentrate really hard in order to make the connection stronger. When we are small we imagine that we have all these powers, don’t we? Like we can fix things if we just look at them hard enough.

At the end of the call we would do the thing where we put our fingers on the screen and then wiggle them and say messed up jellyfish – sometimes the channel would cut off before we could get to that part but I would always do it anyway. I still do sometimes.

I feel like once we know the essence of a person we carry a little tiny version of them with us and that keeps us connected. Like an infinite thread between us and versions of us. Maybe that’s how string theory works.

It’s hard to keep track of anything about myself when we move around so much. Events blur together and schools and people all look the same. There’s Brittas and Deannas everywhere. I feel like I am a person shape moving around and taking up space. But those pictures made me remember a bunch of pieces that I hadn’t thought of for a long time. I just don’t know how any of it fits together. I don’t remember when you left. I just remember before, and then after.

That’s it for now, Dad. I still hope I’ll see you someday soon.

Messed up jellyfish.


Chapter 9 | Silverwood Index | Chapter 11