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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 20 page 20

fiction

I'm Trying to be Heard

by Sarah Gilbert

I’m trying to be heard, even though it’s not good for me. His lips are doing that thing when his spit forms on his bottom lip, right near the corner, and then a goop of it stretches up and down as he talks at me. How come I have to listen to him, but he won’t ever listen to me? I don’t like how he talks to me.

I came home today and hid my agenda in my new hiding spot. This one is better ’cause I forgot where I put the last one and blamed my teacher. Wow, my Dad and Mom were mad at her. Then that nice Social Worker lady got me a new agenda when I told her how mad my Dad was that the other one was gone. I think she was worried for me and I liked that. No one seems to worry about me, ’cept maybe my teacher when I don’t do very good on my projects. The Social Worker lady, maybe she’ll see me again ’cause she doesn’t know anything, yet.

Today at school I am trying my hardest to fit in. I think I look OK, even if my Dad doesn’t. Every morning he stands over me and yells, “Wash your face like this!” and, “your hair, so bad, sticking out everywhere!” Then he wets it down and I go to school with that feeling of cold damp on the back of my neck, making me cold all day long.

Anyway, I guess I look OK but I do wear glasses and I’m pretty skinny and my two front teeth are weird big. Not beaver big, but just too big for my face. My Dad can’t change that, so I bet that makes him pretty mad. My teacher says I’m “chatty” today, all surprised. That’s because I am getting my cat soon, my very own cat. I know exactly what it will look like, and I’m going to pay for it myself, and feed it, and I will have a friend, and I won’t be lonely anymore. My Mom and Dad just haven’t said yes yet, so I’m trying to be quiet and not get them upset. I was at my cousin’s again this weekend, and they have a big fat gray and white cat. I sat right in front of it and stared real close in its eyes. I know it spoke to me, and it knows I’m getting a cat too. I can talk to cats and that is why I should get one.

I know Mom will leave for work soon and Dad will let me be, to watch my shows. It’s after that, in that time just before my sister gets home and we have dinner that I just don’t know. When I saw the lady Social Worker today, I told her all about my cat. She asked some good questions that I wrote down later, like how was I going to pay for its shots and all its food. Stuff like that. Also, my plan for a long-haired cat didn’t seem so good after she said they get hair all over. Mom wouldn’t like that. There’s nothing on our floor, it’s clean and just empty. So, we talked about the cat and when I left to go back to class I was really, really happy.

It’s coming up to dinner soon, I can tell, and my sister isn’t home. I am sitting as straight as I can on the couch with no bumps in the folded blanket beside me. Sometimes I forget. I can smell dinner but I’m not hungry, still I will try to eat just to show him, like I always do. I did my homework after my 4:30 p.m. show but before the 5:30 p.m. one. I really don’t like to miss that one. I can feel the little spiky aches coming up my sides from sitting so still. I just know if I do this, even though it hurts, he sometimes forgets about me. Then he talks out loud to himself and I’m invisible. Bet most people don’t know being invisible is pretty good. It’s hard though, to keep it up, I mean.

I can’t see him when he cooks from where I’m sitting on the couch, but if I stare hard enough I can see his shadow move across the floor, into the room. I’m so busy watching the shadow disappear under the table, I forget all about him. When I look up he’s just staring at me like he’s gone frozen, and I know he sees me tonight.