Wild Things - (Excerpt)
Loulie peeks out at the old woman from her position on the floor, her head between her knees, her legs scrunched up between her arms, her wrists tethered with the rope, chain and padlock, perched on the mattress hour after hour until her butt goes numb. The man thinks the old woman’s a ghost, but Loulie’s about decided she’s just an odd old woman with a humpback, a limp and a mask on that looks like a face, has all the right features and symmetry, but no face would be that frozen, no animation in it whatsoever. He calls her his mother the ghost, has conversations where he does both speaking parts, which makes Loulie wonder if the old woman speaks at all. If she does, perhaps that means she listens, and maybe when the man isn’t home Loulie could appeal to her, beg her to set her free. Loulie had pretty much given up, but now the old woman is around more; in fact, it seems like she may live here too, maybe in that back room Loulie’s never seen—no reason to take you in there, the man had said when he was showing her around the trailer like she was a guest here. Because Loulie won’t speak and the old woman doesn’t seem to either, it’s a strange household with the man, the halting way he talks like he might be a little retarded or something, speaking for them all.
Though sometimes Loulie wonders, does she even remember how? One day when the man wasn’t around Loulie opened her mouth just to try it out, a scream—she’d long since realized the trailer is too far away from anyone who might hear her—but just to give it a whirl, as her mom would say, and… nothing; it was like her voice was encased in ice, a glacial hardness that stuck in her throat and then the taste of bile when nothing came out.
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Last updated: Feb 11, 2018