Blood Coins

by | Jan 30, 2021 | January 2021 Writing | 12 comments

You watch, you keep track of your knees, and depending, your elbows too. The wounds are your reward, after you prove again and again that you’re a brave girl. Mommy sees your wounds, she’s proud of you, she was a brave girl too. Brave girls can look at each other and just know.

One house away, a dad with four kids hangs a knotted rope from a thick high branch. You watch his kids, who are so lucky to have this tree, you watch what they do. Finally, finally it’s your turn, you jump up and grab the rope, it’s rough, always rougher than you expect, but that’s good. You won’t let go.

You pitch yourself away from earth, hard away out into space. Space is expanding, making room for you, brave explorer, you will find new worlds. Right now is when everyone sees how strong you are, how brave. After that no one will doubt that you belong.

 

Someday she will die. It won’t be me who kills her, most likely it’ll be her own scurvy body, but I’ll be happy just the same. 

 

You push through the air, all the way around the tree. Sometimes you slam into the barnacles of rough bark, but you kick back in time, so your momentum doesn’t stop, it’s still your turn, you keep going.

 

Her differences don’t make her special. She’s not special, she’s defective. I don’t want her near me.

 

When you get home, and your mother sees you bleeding, and she washes your cuts. She anoints them with her glass wand of Mecurochrome.

You have to wait. A good way to keep track of your scab is when you’re in the bathroom, peeing. You can bend over and smell the dirty rusty blood smell. Getting into bed you smell it again. The bed is across the room from your sister. You have the same black and white check wool blankets. In the morning her blanket is on the floor and her hair is all sweaty and tangled.

 

I will be so pissed off if I die first.

 

Even when your cut scabs over, you wait some more, till it gets thick. It hesitates, and this resistance, is part of the pleasure of peeling it off. Sometimes you’re a little hasty. Then some puss leaks out of your skin. So what. You put the scab under the music box Uncle Norman and Aunt Nan brought you  from Austria.

 

On one of your moves, a man in blue overalls will bring this blanket out of the long van. It could be yours, or maybe you have hers by mistake. By then she will be dead.

 

Only tough fearless girls get the wounds that scab, girls who don’t are sissies. They get what they deserve.

You eat your scab. It might be soft, or if you’ve left it awhile, crunchy. Like Bacon Bits, before there were Bacon Bits.

 

No one will ever love me again. All that is kaput.

 

The eating, the chewing, refuels, it fills up the well.

 

12 Comments

  1. John Steines

    Hello Suzanne. I love the shift you are doing with the italics, as, hidden, other, unspoken voice, that appears to relate to sister. Your detail about the scab is glorious. The ‘ick’ factor hits me with the eating of the scab, and I celebrate the strength ‘in your face’ kind of challenge that presents to me. What an effective way to lay out a boundary, separation…this is where I may read more into it from my own childhood, as the rope swinging, the skin scrapes, curiosity of the healing – beautiful and gross. I feel swept away like I’m still swinging on a rope. ‘I will be so pissed off if I die first.’…oooo, and I am ashamed to admit I get that, in my child brain, memory deep core of my brain. Competition. Love this. John

  2. Meg Tuite

    Hi Suzanne!
    Well, this is unforgettable! WOW! I love the structure of this beauty of the inside/outside. Interior dialogue of what she really wants to say and what she is doing in the world to encourage Mom’s attention. And the ‘blood coins’!!! That she bites/eats/saves her scabs as a momento of her power over her sister and bravado of cuts and bruises for Mom to take care and show her ‘wonder woman’ side!
    Suggestions: “No one will ever love me again. All that is kaput.” Can you strengthen that statement with something unique? And I LOVE LOVE that last line. Powerful story! LOVE!

  3. Suzanne van de Velde

    Wow, thanks, Meg. This one felt good to write. The italicized ‘interior’ lines are from that list you had us make, of 10 bad things. And yes, think you’re, that last ‘interior’ line needs to be more specific.

  4. David O'Connor

    Suzanne, great rhythm and voice. You really captured the child’s cadence while pushing the story forward. Kudos! Great work!!

  5. Constance Malloy

    Suzanne,
    My, oh my. Scab eating? Crossed my ick threshold as well. But how powerful of an image, especially when you kapow the reader in the last line showing the power and “fuel” it gives the character. I think what I like most about this piece is the unapologetic truth in the character’s feelings towards her sister. Great read. Thanks!

    • Suzanne van de Velde

      Thank you…the feelings towards the sister started out as statements about my ex, but repurposed them to extend their use. Thanks for reading!

  6. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Yup! Crossed my ick threshold too for the scab at the end, but just at the end. It clearly isn’t forgettable. I loved the rope swing, and you really caught the child and mommy’s voice, the good girl. I actually think you stuck the landing perfectly at ‘bacon bits.” And if you want to make it ‘before bacon bits” you could easily make it ‘like bits of bacon.’ It feels to me the flash ends there, and Wow!

  7. jennifer vanderheyden

    What a unique piece, Suzanne. The part about the scab is a great example of the “tough fearless girl”! I like what this truth says about both the narrator and reader. And the sister. I also appreciate the interior/exterior elements and the idea of a different journey for each sister. I like Martha’s suggestion about the bacon. Thank you!

  8. Sara Comito

    Hey Suzanne, sorry it took me so long to get here. There’s a mysterious push and pull here, a foreshadowing of sacrifice. I like that you push girlhood into a rough and tumble terrain of proving. My favorite line is “Space is expanding, making room for you.”

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