Poor Mojo's Almanac(k) Classics (2000-2011)
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Fiction #197
(published October 21, 2004)
by Tammy R. Kitchen
The blanket is warm around my head, but I can't breathe here. If I poke my face out, the voices will know I'm awake. They're out there chittering like birds, their laughter like screeches. I pull the blanket closer to my face and find the ragged hole poked through by my pencil.

My pencils always have to be make-my-skin-bleed sharp. They don't know what I do with them. They don't know I hide them in here. They just think I draw, and draw is what I do. Pictures with fine lines from needle pointed pencils are taped to my walls. Pictures with fine lines from needle pointed pencils are drawn down my thighs.

I feel the pencils under my mattress, their cool surfaces smooth under my thumb, and I want them, but the voices outside my door speak low. I can hear their chitter-chatters and their rustling papers saying she she she over and over again. They're talking about me. They're not supposed to talk about me.

I don't care anymore if they know I'm awake. I have to stop the shes from slithering into my brain. I wrap the blanket tight over my head and hold my hands on my ears, only I can still hear them out there with their sharp teeth clacking my name, so I hum through my nose and still I can hear them and I hum louder, opening my mouth, and I don't care anymore about their shes and their pills and their shameful clucking tongues.

I jump from my bed, the hum raging now from my throat, from my toes, and the words outside my door get louder and I think they'll come screaming in, so I throw the mattress off the bed and my pencils clack and whir across the floor. The door pushes open and fingers peek through, but I push the mattress in front of it, across it, and the howls outside vibrate my head. I scramble for my pencils and the mattress starts pushing out, so I sit in front of it, lean against it and, with my pencils in my hand, I stretch out my legs and begin to draw.

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