The Dear Father Presents . . .A Story by BTBeamon
She received this life at birth. She, young Kate, knows nothing else. The same ritual every day: awake in darkness, in her little closet, anticipating a thin stream of light from under the doorway, from the outer room. An invisible hand slides a small stack of paper and sharp pencil into the blackness. Her task, made clear early in life, is to copy words handwritten on half the paper onto the other, spotless half. Using the feeble scrap of door-foot light, Kate barely concentrates upon the words and sentences she copies. She has no conception (progressing one letter at-a-time) regarding these documents for which she exists; for which she is a human copy-machine.
Later (the urge to add "in the day" must be suppressed for Kate's sake); eventually--perhaps a better word--the outer light will be extinguished. This does not signal an end to the work day; it does, however, suggest an impending break. A quiet thud of footfall precedes a steady opening of her closet door. Unseen hands; warm hands (and so regardless of her life, benevolenthands) put up little struggle in placing a cloth-band around her head, over her eyes. The ease of this operation reveals its regularity.
She stands, weak-kneed, guided by a firm hand on the back to the usual destination. One door creaks; certainly the outer room's? A second door slides, and she feels it: warmth everywhere. Searing her face, her arms, her feet and legs. The greatest thing she has ever experienced. But then: the true gift! The hand departs from her back; the door slides again, clicks, and she acts as permitted: she removes the eye covering. Ah! A moment's blindness (such an odd thing to say of this girl, considering . . .) followed by a clearing, and vision.
Every day, the same: a towering, patchy wooden fence, infested with horrid vine-growth. A forest of uneven, seeding grass; a lone, dead, droopy tree. Pieces of dried, barren ground to her right; tiny rocks and weeds to her left. Above, the fierce source of light sharing sky with varied cloud (the unpredictability of the above particularly enlivened Kate); below, where this episode always begins: her naked feet.
Head down, removing her own blindfold with care and vigilance, she spares a moment for her toes; then up, up slowly, taking in the aforementioned scenery. Eyes wide as the sun above, she grazes in this sinister pasture.
It is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen.
. . .
What of the "firm hand?" Well, this guiding presence is no mystery to Kate. She knows it belongs to her father, her father alone. She would not recognize him; ah, but she would not recognize herself. By concealing her in the darkness for life, he exists only as an invisible patriarch; an unseen father-figure. What few words he has spoken to her, they have been to convey this information. And to lay down the code of conduct: and to make unambiguous that violation meant an end to the visits outside: and a promise that the work will never end.
Imagine the desperation such an idea bestowed upon Kate, then so, so, young. Imagine her first attempt at struggle, to escape, for she, even in this shackled life, envisioned better. She payed for rebellion laying in the gloomy closet, arms wrapped around herself in sore embrace, feeling, not seeing, the mixture of blood and spit drying upon her face.
A firm hand, indeed.
. . .
She wouldn't dare turn around, try to see the door through which she passed. Nor does she wish to. Besides the array of colors before her, there are dozens upon dozens of friendly insects: crawling, chirping, humming, buzzing onto her face and around her head. They are gentle. They make her smile.
As the intoxicating recess reaches its orthodox time-limit, she hears the usual knock upon glass from behind, and knows to reapply the blindfold. The remainder of the day's conscious life rests out of her control; to be consumed by copying.
Kate replicates the spelling of her father, sustained by the notion that something charming and magnificent might someday reach towards her; a motive as to why her life is the way it is; a quelling to the burning in the cavity of her sorrowful stomach.
In these moments of reflection, Kate wanders into an auditorium of isolation, indeed, far deeper than the ordinary desolation of the everyday; here she is lone audience-member and lone performer. The dimming of the lights takes an eternity--silence all-the-while--until a body, with hands (her hands), arms (her arms), feet (her feet), and so on and on, until then: upon the neck, a perfect sphere. The image is--what else?--the scenery of mangey sprouting and withering she has only ever witnessed. Occasionally this ghastly orb, this world-upon-shoulders, is substituted by a simple, flat, two-dimension image: the stunted panorama permitted her each day. She whispers to herself, for the audience, she had better get back to work; she had better get back to work, or else.
What else to do? Perhaps she might shut her eyes and open them powerfully, yearning for a difference to be made. Or an additional pair of options: one, burry her back into a pitch black corner, and hope to dissolve with the darkness; two, cling to the tiny crack of light under the door like a desperate insect. She could endure only for the sweet, fleeting minutes of her daily break from work, for that solitary reward; or, instead, take contentment in her routine and extended losses of consciousness, be they natural or forcibly applied, and repeatedly desire for those moments to last evermore.
In fact, she oscillates between all of these, surfing the waves of her state-of-mind; positive after slurping lukewarm water from a saucer slid under the door, or following consumption of food she never bothered to see. However, in her hunger for answers, for explanation, she starves. She approaches starvation-to-death. She regurgitates the little sketches of symbol, an A here, an H there; mindlessly, she drinks and eats and . . . there are functions which need not, which are too obscene even for . . . If the imagination will.
She learns to no longer lapse into direness, into frantic fits of fist-banging and screaming and bawling; rather, she whimpers serenely. She knows nothing of a happy turn of fortune or plot, cannot be content to merely imagine such a concept. Plant the image in her head: that she could decipher her dear father's writings simply by collecting the letters and marrying them to one another, make that the headline in her desolate amphitheater, and witness her pitying laugh--the first of its kind.
She would tell herself anything, though she has naught to tell. An interview transcript would read: [Breathing]. She can, and does, skim from sore-spot to sore-spot on her fragile body, caressing and poking, taking a fierce and awkward pleasure in the dull sting. Perhaps, next, she will tug at her hair until it rips out? Has she become masochistic?
One may perceive a rising in spirits from Kate; as she knows only the one style of life, why could it not be the best? What if her fear, fury, and sobbing are simply elements of a difficult daughter? Her father is, after all, her father; ought he not be served? And she may take solace in the oft-mentioned rest from work (do all the daughters enjoy this? [are there even other daughters!]). She misses the new batch of paper under the door, so lost in abstract, wordless thought (to know her mind would be to know an alien's mind) . . . Could she be disgusting? If the orb upon her neck were something different, might it be OK to witness, just for a tiny moment? Her conclusions on this particular day are swirling towards the drain, and on the uncovered floor is the notion of "for her own good." No matter what she feels good about or not, she deserves this. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Th- . . . The outer-room light dies, the steps are robust--nothing new to Kate, this has happened before. She hears, does not see, the door being yanked almost from its attachment. She feels, does not see, her arm being yanked almost from its attachment. And she hears, it's happening, again, the rearing back of an arm and fist--but this time, she is different: do it, she thinks. She understands, she thinks; she thinks she understands. Her eyes are closed, though it changes nothing, and she outstretches her arms, ready, compliant. And as she does, her nevertheless trembling fingers graze a protrusion: there is a click, a blinding light, a moment's adjustment.
She stands in the room; alone.
© 2010 BTBeamon
Added on June 19, 2010
Last Updated on June 19, 2010