g r a v e l
A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
I've been sitting in this chair for 20 minutes now, staring through this window, wondering if they can even see me.
I can see them. I can see Macy Stadler, fidgeting with those delicate housewife hands of hers, next to the flabby fat-roll she calls a husband. She’s always looking at those hands. I wonder if it’s hard for her to look Bill in the eyes, ever since the handsome neighbor boy came along. She tells Bill he’s quite the handyman, and her appliances break a lot when he’s not home. Little Jeremy’s very good with his hands, I hear.
Now, I don’t think Bill’s stupid. I think he’s just got his priorities out of whack. For the past six months he’s been too wrapped up in dollar signs and imaginary numbers to see the pain his wife is in. I wonder if he even realizes his daughter isn’t there.
From this window, I can see Stella, too. So many people have been stuffed into this tiny brick room, and so too is Stella Leonard. Look at her; eyes pouched, watery from vodka and age. Dolled all up in her moth-eaten Sunday best, she’s almost the spitting image of her sister.
Stella has nothing, but you can find all of her possessions at various pawnshops across the city. Her sister is to thank for this—that, and an itch for cocaine that just can’t ever seem to be scratched. Stella’s always denied that her sister’s had a problem, but if you ask me, the problem wasn’t coke or pain killers or sleeping pills. It was that Stella just didn’t care enough... Not until it was too late, anyhow.
I can also see Father Andrews. He’s leaning his soul on his thick black book like a crutch, but no amount of praying is going to keep him in the good graces of the man upstairs…unless, of course, the Almighty’s got a soft spot for shepherds that like to prey upon the youth of their flock.
Father Andrews clears his throat and flops open his bible in front of my face. He’s not on the other side of the glass with the rest of them. He’s standing two feet away, looking down at his book of words, jabbering. Even he doesn’t dare see me.
The only one who can see me is Letty, out there, crying. That lustrous light is gone from her eyes. She’s angry with me. Disappointed in me. I want to tell her, my beautiful sister, that the blackness in her heart won’t last forever, but she’s being ushered from the room.
All of them are watching me in this chair, thinking about the daughter they lost. The sister they lost. And yet, Macy Stadler’s just going to go back to the arms of handyman Jeremy. Bill Stadler’s going to go back to his imaginary numbers. Stella’s going to go back to her vodka and her denial. I wonder if their chairs bind them the same way mine binds me.
Before throwing the switch, a hood is placed over my head, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to see them, and they don’t need to see me. They can’t even see themselves.