She shuffles over to me in her bedroom slippers. She always wears her bedroom slippers.
Danny. Do you know what time it is?
I glance at the last words Ive writtenimages or feelings perhaps, stimulated within my brainand move my hand to cover the paper. A mistake; Ive called her attention to it. I look at my watch. About eleven thirty, I say.
Almost a quarter to twelve.
Eleven thirty-seven, I correct her.
Its a school night. You know that.
She persists: Christmas vacation is over.
Oh, yes, dont I know it? January once more. Wake with the alarm before its light, ride the school bus through the bitter gray morning. Try to do the reading I didnt do last night. Then stagger from class to class, boredom to boredom, my eyes foggy with all the sleep I havent gotten. Eleventh grade now. I turned sixteen last month.
She stands beside me, resting her weight on the back of my chair, touching my shoulder with her fingers. I lean forward. It makes me nervous when my mother touches me. I smell the sour sickness of her body. I dont turn around, but I can see her in my mind: spindly limbs, gaunt, peaky face. Her thick cat eyeglasses, the lenses like teardrops. I wear glasses too.
What are you writing?
Oh . . . something for English class.
English was my best subject, she says.
When she was in high school, I guess. English is my best subject also. When I write, the teachers tell me I sound almost like a grown-up.
A story? she says, leaning over me, trying to read what Ive written.
Sort of. Were supposed to write . . . a kind of journal. Im making this up as I go along. Of somebody who we are. Who we might be.
A story, she says, as if that made it so. As if she still knew me from inside out, top to bottom, the way she did when I was little.
But this isnt a story. And it has nothing to do with any English assignment. Writing a story, I know the twists and turns in advance. I know how its going to come out. This . . . journal, I guess, comes from a place I dont yet know, and it unfolds itself inside me, bit by bit, so I cant see beyond the next folding.
Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Journal of a UFO Investigator by David Halperin. Copyright © 2011 by David Halperin
Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!
No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.