The Alpha and Omega of The Out of Body Girl
By: Joyce Hayden
I. Flying Away/Blueberry Lane
At the new babysitter’s house, up past Jane drive, past the hospital-green water tower, in the new section of houses, it will happen. Your two year old brother will tumble out of the car, while you brush your mother’s cigarette ash off your red church dress. A coldness will rush at you once the woman opens her front door. Stand on the stone doorway alone waving at your parents, until the silver Buick disappears. When the woman barks: GET IN HERE AND SHUT THAT DOOR, cross the threshold from light to dark, from known to unknown. Place your hand over the knot in your stomach. Calm your fears that something bad will happen. Remind yourself you’re seven years old. You can take care of yourself. Don’t blink if you can help it. Notice every detail from now until 10 tonight.
When the woman places Michael in a room down the hall and points her finger to the back yard swings, say No. OUT NOW, she will bellow. Tell her you’re staying inside with Michael. Walk backwards toward the room he’s in; don’t let her see you shaking. When you’re in the room, watch cartoons. Let your guard down when he falls asleep. Awaken to a door clicking into place.
Scan the room for your brother. When you try to stand, a heavy hand will push you back. When you open your mouth to speak, that hand will squeeze your jaw. Wonder why your skin is crawling like ants all over you when his other hand works its way under your red dress. “Where’s Michael Where’s Michael Where’s Michael” will reverberate in panicked waves through your brain. It will happen as the big boy’s hand moves up your thigh, then higher. Your throat knotted, the blur of no words will send you outside the body, the way fluffy seeds of milkweed burst their pods, and rise.