Summary: He thought I was crazy for keeping myself ever so silent—oh, if only he knew. But I will sustain myself, even in this asylum, for as long as I have Elena, memories of a loving mother long gone, and this odd blue boy who doesn't need any words to understand me. In this small planet—the dark place of the so-called insane—our worlds intertwine like the finest thread of silk.
-Tints of Shade
My name is Christina Wesley, and I have a story to tell you. Somehow, I find it essential that the reader should know what the character of a story looks like, so let me give a small mention of my appearance, which shall never be biased in any way, at least not knowingly: I have curly raven hair that reaches just below my shoulders; they flick inward elegantly towards the end. People say that my long eyelashes, which looked as if mascara had been applied on them, wonderfully complement my navy blue orbs. My skin is a rich, milky white color. Mommy once remarked that I looked like a perfect doll of porcelain. Abby said that I was one of the innocent children in stories that looked really pretty, say, the Little Red Riding Hood. I did not know whether to agree.
My father, Leonard, does not seem to like me very much. Ever since I refused to speak—the details of which I shall tell you later—he thought I was crazy. I do not blame him, though. Who wouldn't think that a kid who could speak but simply does not want to—not in any circumstance—is not crazy? I only wished he were kinder. He beats me—with a belt or with his very own swollen limbs—even if I don't deserve it. At least, I think I don't.
I was very close to my mother, Hilary. Two years have elapsed since she died, and a month before that she had constructed and given to me—in purple wrapping and red ribbon—my doll, my best friend. I had never before realized that friends could come in packages. The elders and wise men always say that material things couldn't buy happiness, but this wasn't the case.
I named my rag doll Elena. She was the product of my Mother's fine craftsmanship. Elena started out as merely two peach cloths sewn together—though, as the years passed by, they took a color that likened more to that of brown—of the same size and shape and some cotton. Mommy stitched her front and back parts together using running stitches, thus forming a body.
An opening was left on Elena's head, and that was where she was stuffed with cotton to expand her and make her huggable and soft. The opening was finally closed and she took the rough form of a baby human, having a round head, two hands that hadn't any fingers, and feet that hadn't any toes. She had chrome yellow buttons placed a fair distance from each other on her face for eyes. They were big, the size of coins. Her single lip was curved upwards to form a smile. It was done with blue-black thread, running-stitched. On her head was an abundance of curly mahogany brown hair, braided in two parts. Each part was tied at the end with a rather faded, red ribbon.
Elena wore a dress that was merely a collection of many patches of blue, red, green, and yellow colors. At the hemline of it, soft pink roses went all around. More roses encircled the lower part of her head, for she hadn't any neck for a collar. Her feet went inside beige bags and at her ankles—if it would be proper to call them as such—more red ribbons were tied to secure her makeshift shoes.
Over the years, she served as my ever-loyal friend that not a soul could have ever replaced—especially when Mommy passed away and I grew silent. I would gaze at her for minutes, and even if a word never escaped my mouth, it felt as if she knew just how miserable I felt. It felt as if Elena shared my pain, my hopes, joys, and fears. We were one and against the world. She would either listen to my ramblings or to the haunting silence that lurked within me and filled the room. I could see her lovely button-eyes eyeing me sympathetically. She understood me and comforted me. I loved her dearly. She was my best friend. Not even my neighbor, Abby Grange—my best friend after Elena—could take her place in my heart. She was my remembrance of Mother, the emblem of her affection for me, the indicator that I will avenge her death.
I promise I will avenge her. The way she died simply wasn't fair—and goodness, I was only six! She was raped and killed—with me hiding in the closet, keeping silent because she told me to.
"Keep silent," she told me that night. "Speak a word and you might die."
I crossed my fingers and brought it across my chest, muttering the all too common word that one uses when making an oath. "Promise." I said no more, knowing that it will break the very purpose of my oath.
"Good," Mommy said, patting me on the head before a crash of the vase made her more alert than ever. "Hurry, hide in the closet!"
I nodded and scurried into the open wardrobe, with Mommy closing it for me. I was engulfed in silence, my window to the world being the small opening that was left, since the door could not close fully. Through it, I could see the dim, yellow light of the room I was in. I shifted my position in the narrow area—claustrophobia had, somehow, settled—and felt the texture of clothing against my skin. I could hear a feminine voice—it must have been Mommy's—screaming, and another unfamiliar, manly voice moaning, grunting, and cursing, the sound of sucking. It proved too much for a little child like me to take. I knew something wasn't right, and I broke into a river of silent tears. I did not allow myself to make a sound even as I wept, for I kept a promise.
She died that day. The mysterious man killed her off after enjoying her body. I looked at her gruesome corpse as she was taken for autopsy. I thought these kinds of murders only happened in TV. She looked ugly and her head was twisted for more than 180 degrees, breaking it. She had a dislocated shoulder and a twisted leg. A bullet went through her heart. The experts said that was enough to kill her, really, but no, the evil man wanted to enjoy himself by further torturing my Mother's body. I was furious, but I said nothing. The rapist was never caught and I hated Daddy for not pursuing the search of this cruel mystery man. He said he didn't want any more trouble.
I kept my promise of keeping silent with me. Days became weeks, weeks became months, and months became two years. I brought it with me all the days of my life, never letting a day pass without reliving the horrors I could hear and could sense in that small wardrobe, without unfolding it once again as if it were a movie, and Mommy and I were the stars.
Daddy brought me to numerous hospitals, wondering if it was a sickness that made me mute. Every doctor in town—heck, even out of town—assured him and reassured him that I could speak, just didn't want to. That led him to suppose that I was mad, crazy, insane. It was all the same—I never spoke a word to him, only nodded or shook my head when I happened to be in a good mood. I received beatings, sometimes utterly severe, but that didn't matter. You can call me crazy just like he did, but let me tell you—I did it for the sake of promises. Maybe I am crazy for this, maybe I'm not. It does not matter to me.
Once, someone suggested to him that I be brought to an asylum out of town. He seemed interested in the idea. I knew something was going to happen. He considered me a burden, after all, a germ, a waste of space and a waste of his precious money. I was to be disposed of immediately. Maybe be adopted or put in a juvenile ward?
"For God's sake, why can't I get rid of you for one day, you crazy, think-you-know-everything bitch?" he'd usually say. "You snoop around everywhere like a silent cat!"
The fact that I never said anything annoyed the wits out of him. He had had enough. Today, I packed my things. I picked my necessities carefully—I knew I could not bring them all to my destination. I wore three layers of clothing plus the undergarments to save myself from carrying too much luggage—on the outside, I was wearing a long-sleeved fuchsia dress that beautifully twirled, a denim jacket, black leggings, and rubber shoes. I looked quite unfashionable, and I was wearing two pairs of socks. It didn't matter—it was a cold day, anyway. My other clothes went inside my bag, and Elena never ceased to hang onto my arm. Over the years, my careless carrying on its hand had made it prone to being separated from its body altogether, and now one could see a white substance—the filling, cotton—threatening to spill from her right armpit.
I was squeezing my clothes into my last bag when I heard Daddy call for me. "Christina! Hurry up and get down here. We'll be leaving any minute now!"
I wore my backpack and slung my travel bag on my left shoulder in haste. Then, I went down the stairs, with Elena accidentally crashing onto the steps sometime and again as I held her on my right. The sound of my footsteps was enough to tell him; I didn't need to tell Daddy that I was going down. I wouldn't. That he already knew—after two years and no word escaping my lips since then. He ignored me when we had eye contact, so I continued walking.
Exhausted, I went outside and put my travel bag down. Daddy was still inside, reading a newspaper and smoking a mint cigarette. Abby was waiting for me outside the ivory gates. She wore a sky blue tank top and a denim miniskirt. Her wavy ebony hair was pigtailed in two by blue hair scrunchies. Her olive eyes had been eyeing me cautiously, as if waiting for me to let her in. I thought for a moment, then I decided that I would. It is my last day, after all. I opened the gates for her, and seven-year-old Abby proceeded to the garden paradise feeling homely. A babyish pout played on her lips as she sat on the swing and began kicking her feet on the ground to pick pace. I suppose she was waiting for me to say something, even after the two years that passed by with me always failing to satisfy this one wish of hers. I said nothing. I was waiting for her to speak up—I would only listen.
Finally, her soft lips parted from each other, and sounds escaped her lips. They remained incoherent mumbles, until she decided she could not take it anymore without asking me: "Why, Christina? Why don't you speak?"
There was a wistful look in my eyes as I gazed up at the sky. Clouds hung over the sun and birds were flying about. The weather was good. I waited patiently in that position. She knew far well that this talk was going to be hopeless, but she still painstakingly persevered. Why?
Realizing I wouldn't utter a word, she continued her one-person chat with me. "Christina, you used to speak, you did! Don't you realize what you are doing? Look at you! Your world is falling apart. Here you are wearing layers of clothing, with two bags to carry, and going to an asylum just because your father thinks that you're insane! I don't think you're insane. You're only quiet and I only wish that you'd tell me a word about your problems, the cause of this all!" Her voice seemed to be near tears. It saddened me. Somehow, I felt like I wanted to speak then, but something pulled me back from doing so. My promise. "Aren't we still friends?"
I nodded and blinked wildly, forcing the tears not to escape my eyelids. Was my world really falling apart? No, I told myself, I would not succumb to that statement. My world is in perfect order. You could say I put up a façade and refused to look at what was real—my ever crashing life.
"Then, if we are, why don't you tell me anything?" She was crying already. It was such a pathetic situation. I couldn't do anything that would really fix the dilemma. I couldn't break my promise, could I? Instead, I took out my handkerchief from my jacket's breast pocket and gently wiped her tears. She reached out and embraced me.
"Despite that, we'll still be friends. I'm sure of it. Don't ever forget me, okay?" I could feel the tears on my hand as she sobbed. She was a good friend, indeed, she was, but I couldn't do anything. I hugged her back firmly and lovingly and nodded again. She smiled and laughed bitterly.
"I will never forget you, Christina Wesley. And I will visit you." That made me smile, even in the slightest. Someone in the world won't forget me. Someone in the world will visit me. Someone in the world still loves me. Someone in the world is still my friend. Elena is, of course, a special exemption, and Daddy never seemed to care that much for me. I pressed Elena's deformed hand and let Abby touch it.
"Ah! So this is your little friend. What's her name again? Elena, isn't it?" she asked me cheerily, if only fake. I bobbed my head in affirmation. She smiled and hugged it like it was her own baby girl. "She's very pretty. I like her hair and—oohh—the roses look lovely!"
She bore into her button eyes and talked to her softly. "You will be her companion for me, won't you? You take care of her for me. Understand her. Be a good friend. That is our little secret." Then, she made Elena nod and after that, she smiled, handing Elena back to me as if she told her nothing at all. Too bad, I already knew what she said—their little secret, apparently. I played along. I rather liked the idea, anyway.
My innocent smile faded when I saw Father coming. I immediately waved my hand at Abby to bid her goodbye, and when she left, I slung my travel bag back on my arm. It was heavy, and it ached my shoulder pretty much.
"Who was that—Abby?" Daddy asked me gruffly. I merely looked at him with knowing eyes, as if he should know.
"Never mind that. The asylum will make you right, and soon enough, you will talk. Now, hop in." He motioned me to get in the passenger seat of his car. It was an old pick-up truck, but he had grander ones. I suppose I was just too much of a waste to use his better cars. I got in and put my bags beside me and Elena on my lap.
"Say goodbye to your life here. I'll finally get rid of you, you little puss!" His feet pressed hard on the gas pedal and we went off. We were going out of town and to an asylum on a hill. I felt like I was accused of a crime I wasn't guilty of, and because of that was now being sent to jail. It was simply unfair.
I said goodbye to my home, goodbye to Abby, goodbye to the city, and goodbye to Daddy—that is, with a sense of slight relief. At least, I told myself, I still had Elena with me, and Mother stamped in my mind, forever cherished as a memory. That would have been enough to make me survive my unfair predicament.
A/N: Here is another one of my experiments! I'm not sure if it is good enough, and I wish I coud receive some criticism. I'm not too dedicated to this, so a few encouragements and suggestions would really be helpful or this might go.
By the way, Christina is eight years old.