You Don’t Say?

The kid hadn’t spoken in a long while. That’s not minutes you understand, we’re talking years here. Used to be he’d chatter away with barely a break for breath. Word vomit, folk call it. Those around him didn’t mind it for a time, but their nods and smiles eventually faded, irritation bubbling behind their eyes. Occasionally irritation boiled over into shut-the-fuck-up and the kid would pass nights stewing in prickly silence. Not that any of these were bad folk, mind. They were good people all, but good people have their limits. Hell, even Jesus flipped tables when he was pissed off.

It got so kid’s thin whine was bricked up inside his own skull. Aimless, lazy thoughts would loll and lurch, twisting around and through one another. Jagged streaks of half-formed ideas would collide with the slightest distraction, splintering and embedding themselves in the bone. It was a real tangle in those early days, the kid’s head. Mad cats walked across the keyboards in there and he’d struggle to make sense of the crazy they’d throw up.

Things wound down some, after a time. The kid managed to get so he could keep an idea still, could grip a concept, hold it steady and use it to chisel bigger things out of the walls. He started thinking about how he got this way, why he stayed this way. After all, he wasn’t gagged, he was behind no bars. Reaching back into the low corners of his mind, he couldn’t get hold of any specific person or event to blame. The past was all knotted with embarrassment and guilt. Shit smeared memories, detail smudged out. So the kid got to carving out a new idea; maybe he was down a hole he’d dug himself. Why not try to climb out?

The kid’s atrophied vocal cords contract. Dry tissue cracks and flakes away. Sand-blast coughs bend the kid double, the spasming bellows of his chest throwing out the dust and the cobwebs and the dead flies. The kid straightens up, takes one deep breath. And listens as his low groans explore the spaces outside his head.

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