Gritty Details

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday's Storyteller: "The stars wheeled overhead as the light flared from..."

by Belinda Roddie

The stars wheeled overhead as the light flared from seemingly all directions. The noise came from the sky. It came in growls and whispers and shrieks and groans. It whistled and croaked and whinnied and howled. It hiccuped, belched, sneezed, and sighed. But most of all, it cried. At least, I felt like it was crying for me.

I don't know how long I lay there in the grass, my back braced by the curve of the drought-stricken earth, my knees bent so that my legs splayed out in crooked angles, creating a dysfunctional geometry. I knew that after what had happened, my body was now physically awry. There was no balance, no equilibrium, no sense of core or center. I had become asymmetrical. The cosmos were witness to this metamorphosis, though the darkness concealed it from anyone else who might be aimlessly wandering around in the middle of the night.

There was blood still coming out of my mouth as I attempted to sit up and check for injuries - broken bones, torn ligaments. I had gouged an impressive hole in my cheek from biting down so hard on it, as if redirecting my attention to a smaller pain would help me ignore the larger blows. I couldn't remember how many had attacked me. I knew there had been a baseball bat. Aluminum. They had aimed at everything but my head. I suppose they had wanted me to treasure the memory they had provided me.

I heard the sirens before I even managed to scrape for my phone. The fact that it was still in my pocket reassured me that I had not been successfully mugged. Still, the real reasons behind the attack became more worrisome. I did not know the men who had assaulted me. Their words were garbled in my ears. The dialogue meshed inconsistently with the shouting from the stars above, as if they, too, were debating my situation. Had they seen me kiss her? Had they seen me hold her hand?

Someone had seen me. Someone had called an ambulance.

Shit, I thought to myself. I'm going to be in medical debt for the rest of my goddamn life.


My girlfriend was sitting behind me by the time I woke up in my hospital bed. She told me I had slept soundly. The nurse spoke Spanish, like me, so we changed back and forth from English to my family's language. Bueno. Yes, I'm feeling better. ¿Hay huesos rotos? Yes, a couple. Ribs. Una pierna. My right leg.

The doctor and the police talked to me in random bursts and intervals, usually repeating their questions. They wanted to know names, which I didn't have, and stories, which I hardly recalled. I may not have been directly hit in the head, but I had landed pretty hard after they scattered. Everything was wobbly and blurred, like camera film that had gone bad. Useless.

"What if it was Jorge and his buddies?" asked my girlfriend by the time we were finally alone.

I shrugged. "Wouldn't put it past them."

"Did they find out about us?"

"Maybe." I sighed. "Sorry if your parents find out."

She took my hand and held it. Outside, the sun was out. There was no screaming from the sky. But there was someone singing a song. A sad one. Not my elegy, though. Not yet.

This week's prompt was provided by Kyle Oathout.

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