Hot sun and oh, a band of round rubber! There on the ground, stretching I, down and I can reach it. Another rubber band for me. This hot day would’ve broken it. The edges, on days like this, get cracks if they’ve ever been rained on. And then it will stop being elastic. When I stretch it, it won’t snap back to its oval—it will stay and then break apart. I won’t stretch this one. It’s brittle because it rained yesterday. A bad mix. Ouch.
I’m coming. Why does she pull my hand so often? She goes fast. She won’t see anything on the ground. I have two rubber bands in my left pocket, now. Nothing is in my right pocket. I’m saving it. At home I have an old box of rubber bands. The cardboard is bent on one side, in the middle, but I pushed it out. A lot will fit inside, making it a good box for the purpose. Most are red, but some are beige, yellow, or blue. She doesn’t like what I find, I know she doesn’t want me to keep them. I’ll find more. If I missed one, it would stay, people would walk over it or on it. It would crack and fade, falling apart, being swept away.
Sometimes buildings have circles in them. Glass filled ones, just the black outlines look like my collection. I put my fingers inside one of my rubber bands. They feel good held by the band, spreading its fullness. The rubber band leaves no open side to slip away from, like her hand. My finger tips touch each other inside the band. I don’t have to hold them like that, the band does it for me. I feel my fingers feeling fingers. Sometimes, I pull my fingers away from each other, stretching the rubber band. It resists the stretching but it’s supposed to. I feel it against me. It tells me it’s real and it’s with me. It tells me I’m real, resisting one another, common cause.
She brings me other places. Today I noticed someone else walking with his mother because I also see him at school. He sometimes wears a white and blue-striped shirt. She wasn’t holding his hand like my mother does. I find little to keep before we’re home where the sun sinks and dinner ends. I’m given instructions to follow and sleep to do.
By myself, I’m waiting without light. I don’t know why. My chair’s back straightens me up but it’s not enough. I slip partially down so that I can curve my back against its flatness. Against my face, stillness performs its full ruckus. Often, waiting brings answers and impatience brings spoil. I’ve learned but I prefer finding a different option. And none come to mind.
No breeze comes through the room and all I see deep down in the corridor is its definition: a rectangular shape. I cannot speak. And where is everyone? The man dog bounds from the corridor toward me. Its mouth gapes and it runs on hind legs, crouching nonetheless in the front. It’s no lighter than the space of the rectangle around it. I see I have no time to see it, and much could happen later. I wail; there is nothing else to do, nothing else I can do in time. Well, I’m doing it all in time I suppose but then why can it not actually get to me. It’s closer, I think, but it’s only a thought. It’s not closer actually.
I finished my morning instructions properly. We stepped into a cross-walk again. Yesterday we saw the same cross-walk, and the day before. We see the same cross-walk everyday. It’s not nice if we don’t. Sometimes I find a rubber band at the curb’s edge, before stepping off. I put my first foot on the lines but she sometimes misses them. She doesn’t notice. No rubber band today. Why! There ought to be, yesterday and the day before there were none! Now that’s it, I feel those old sour absences creeping into my mouth and I swallow them. She won’t stop but I pull back. Let’s see. Maybe I missed it, it could be here. I wasn’t looking for blue ones, maybe it’s blue today. She pulls me again and I cannot help but go. It might not be there tomorrow. I need to go back. She won’t let my hand go. Let it go!
“Yes but…” I plead, which doesn’t come out well enough to convince. She pulls harder. Cars wait on my right. Their faces make noise—all together because on my left cars also face, making noise. Their black and silver grills full of gaps. Each one with different and not-perfect fronts. Most crisscross with plastic lines but some don’t even crisscross, they just have lines and a dirty blackness. I feel the heat coming out of them like a strong exhale without the breath to exhale. Sometimes I do that, pushing breath from the back of my throat even though I exhaled already. She pulls some more. I slowed down too much to see the car faces. They start moving behind us.
We stop up on the other curb, which lacks a piece of concrete where two portions meet. A piece the size of my hand is missing. I see no rubber bands. At the corner, she sees another woman and we stop. We stop! She starts talking, I hear my name, but the concrete turns into a small wall here. I climb it because I see it’s holding a lot of plants.
One plant, close to the edge, has long, waxy leaves. The leaves are thicker than they look so they bend slow, like plastic. I run my hand along the edge, leaf-to-leaf, one leaf bends with my hand until it’s too much, its tip brushes just past the edge of my hand and bounces up, then down, then up—a few times. I like this discovery and I predicted inside that it would be this way. All the leaves do this, one after the other. I brush my hand on them again. They feel nice, tapping against my hand and bouncing together. I slow down. One green leaf blade starts and stops its rubbery glide over the back of my hand. It trails over the smooth parts; I feel like I hear its movement in blocky squeeks that roll from my hand into the wide air, getting lost in traffic. The leaf cannot keep up with my hand, finally my hand goes too high for it. The tip tickles, its gentle point grazing around the edge of my hand. It trails the blocky squeeks with a thin, reedy vibration, which I can even distinguish as the sound of the tiny ridges in my skin. Finally though, even the tip loses contact with my hand and springs down then up then down, narrowing its bounce until it stops moving altogether. But I’ve already put my hand to the next leaf in the hierarchy. So it starts again.
The sounds I imagine, change if I move faster. I can predict the way they sound but I need to make each variation. She pulls me. Why? I’ll go back. She won’t let go! I’ll go back. I’ll go back. I’ll go back.
We go inside. The lights stray off; when I turn them on she comes behind and shuts them off. I cannot get them all on. I need to put them on. I want to choke. The lump in my throat rises but then pushes itself through my shoulder, down my arm, into my hand, which shoves the switch up. She flips the switch down and directs me away. If I could go back… this room is ok. Sunlight hardly touches the objects. I lie down, still feeling that lump in my throat. I listen to the memory of the leaves and the ridges on my hand. She said “to sleep you go.” I try to swallow the lump but the lights are off—
In my chair, stillness surrounds like a crowd of people. It won’t clear. I have to sit. Why is she gone. Heavy crinkling. I think of a thick bronze plank but moving the way aluminum foil would in a winter wind. On a shore. I can see where the sound is coming from. It’s paper, maybe. A lot of paper crinkling—what are people doing? Why would people crunch and crinkle paper, so far away? I cannot see. Off lights. I wait.
Five minutes, ten minutes, I think the crinkling is wrong. Something is wrong with paper crinkling that way, for as long as it is. Nobody should be doing that. I sit forward, but I will not get off my chair. I cannot see into the crinkling distance. Nothing reflects from the moon and I will not put my feet to the ground. The crinkling is louder and it’s wronger. Squinting, I still cannot see into the hallway. The kind of dark where shapes cannot even define themselves just inks itself on my eyes. It pairs with all this stillness—so much of each, such over-abundance. But I cannot put it in portions. There’s no seeing where some of the darkness ends and more begins, so how can there be some darkness at all, and the crinkling continues louder, more frenetic. Someone’s making that crinkling, it cannot all be stillness in this room, and wherever that person is, there is also a portion of stillness that isn’t. The rush comes at me directly from some point in the immediate dark distance. It runs, faster than I can think—a plowing vessel of will and missing emotions—intent on harm. I wail.
She comes, patting my forehead with new light and her hands. Where has the crinkling gone? I want my rubber bands. She brings the box to me and I put my hands in it. What’s she saying? The rubber bands twist around my fingers. Between my fingers, I touch a blue one, right on the webby part. Finger one and two, two and three, three and four, thumb and one. Then I stretch it, it tightens up, I expected that, and my finger tips swell red. I wrap my rubber bands around them, layering each one above the prior. They’ll cover everything evenly. I will make one hand blue and beige. The other will be red and green. Wrapped into parrot beaks, I push the fingertips on each hand into a kiss with the other. I can feel the bulging ridges on each finger, they sound ruckruckruck, brushing against the ridges of each other. I rub for a while, ruckruckrucking. She comes back but she cannot hear it. It’s the expected sound of this type of ridge though.
Today, I found a red rubber band before we went to the cross-walk, just at the end of our front. No rubber bands at the cross-walk! Again. I lean sideways to pick it up, she’s pulling, but I get it into my pocket. Today she’s wearing a long dress. Because the wind blows it so, it trails like upside-down fluttering Fs. But it sounds more like Ws. A circle of twisting red swirls appears and disappears from the folds in the bottom. I rest my chin on my arm, which she’s holding, so I see down, at the swirls. I try to match my feet to her dress but I don’t know how to predict wind yet. I’m a step behind and the Ws don’t come in even portions. She tugs my hand some. We’re almost to the other curb; still no rubber bands. There are those rubbery leaf plants, growing just up a bit. Oh, that looks like a rubber band just back below the edge of the curb. I yank fast and my hand slips out of hers and I run.
Into the street, that little black circle must be a rubber band. But then, there is also that car face. Its crisscrosses shine and they’re round too. On the surface. But I can see, as it comes, that inside they’re dark. They’re not silvery all the way. It huffs out hot but breathlessly, so hot it’s all over my face, and we’ll vibrate like the colourful ruckus of parrots.