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Silence with ugly cookies
by Katerina Charisi
2015-11-08 12:41:35
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Emily always believed she was born at the wrong time and wrong place; If not about her, it was all wrong about her parents. Two young children both of them were, gripped by a baneful passion, carrying them away like being captured in the eye of a cyclone, wrathful and devastating, leaving marks of disaster, bleeding wounds, crashed nerves and an unwanted child.

emil01_400Her father left when he found out about the pregnancy just to come back after a while thinking about having a son might be nice and leaving again the day his daughter was born. Her mom hated Emily most of the times; For ruining he life in her tenderly 17’s,  destroying her relationship with the man she loved most, having to get married with him while none of them was ready for something like that, but most of all hated her because she loved her more than she hated her.

Emily remembers a lot of things of her childhood; she could name every single object in her bedroom, every building outside her windows, every inch under her bed. She spent more time under the bed than anywhere else. When her parents where fighting, shouting to each other breaking things, when she listened to her mother’s cries, she took her blanket and crawled under her bed putting her hands on her ears and shutting her eyes, calling for her only friend to come and make it stop. The silence.

“With my hands on my ears and my eyes wide shut, I feel the floor trembling and I’m sinking in a sea of silence. The water rises and I descend to its bottom, colors fade out and noises fade away. All I can see is a deep blue blank. And I listen to the silence.

I press harder my hands on my ears and call my Silence to come close. She has become my only ally and loyal friend into this. I need her so badly to make their voices go away, that I started calling her by her name. “Silence” I whisper, “come to me”.

I don’t step out of my hiding place until Silence goes away and I still don’t hear a thing. There’s no trace of dust under my bed; it’s so much the time I spend down here. I stand in the door frame and watch her sitting on the carpet, staring at the wall with eyes that don’t really look at anything. She holds a blue sandblasted piece of thick glass. Her white t-shirt is torn with tiny blood stains here and there and I see her naked shoulder and a bit of her breast. I look for the other missing piece of glass with the corner of my eye without leaving her from my sight, I see it in the corner. Her eyes don’t move from the wall. There’s some blood on her lip and a deep red bruise that slowly turns into purple. It’s the ashtray, ashes and cigarette butts are scattered on the floor.

The table stands with its legs on the air. I sit on it and pretend it’s a boat. I hold the two legs and shake and roar, like if I was a sailor in the open sea. I was just 4. And that was the first memory I had from my mother.

When I get bored playing with the table she had done all the cleaning. Nothing could tell what had happened just now. She looks at me in a way that makes me her silent accomplice. Nothing ever happened. She takes me by the hand and we get out of the house. I already know where she takes me and why. She wants to buy me an ice cream and sit on a bench to tell me all the reasons she feels ashamed about me. Because she can accuse me; I’m always there, the sitting duck, her punching bag and I always agree.

And so there we are, sitting on a bench in a filthy sideway and the street is illumined pale. I eat my ice cream and stare at my feet moving back and forth. In my childish mind I just swing at the playground.

She starts with the same words as always, which they mean I let her down for once more. “What a let- down that was”, and tells me something about the way I sit on the table or how I hold my fork when I eat, how I drop crumbles on the floor or about the mess in my room, anything that could fit in the moment and be a good reason to feel disappointed.”

There wasn’t any point saying anything to defend herself against her mother’s accusations. Her mother just needed someone to blame in her turn since she wasn’t able to defend herself against her father and give him his share of responsibility for their mess. Feeling ashamed and humiliated, demeaned, with an inner voice yowling while her flesh burns and pulses where he hit her.

emil02_400Emily had already stopped listening to her right when she said the first words. She had heard it all in these words. All the rest was only for bursting out and she was always there; Listening, agreeing, accepting the accusation, saying “yes, you are right. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’m not what you wished for. I’m sorry for taking your life away. Believe me, if there was anything I could do to make you feel happy, I would ask to disappear so you can have your life back”.

But her mother wasn’t always like this. There were times that she seemed to forget about her miserable being, or she was just struggling with her rage to drive it away and be normal for just a little. They had a really great time together when that happened. Her mother painted beautifully and Emily was entranced by her drawings.

“She could draw amazing birds. Blue skies and bright full suns, almond trees in blossom and bird nests inside. Her drawings were so alive like they could talk and get into motion. I thought the sun really shined with its warm rays falling on my face, the sky that could change from morning to night, I thought I saw the birds waving.

Sometimes we made cookies together. She gave me a piece of the pastry she made and let me play with it. I shaped it and squeezed it and I tried so hard to make cookies as good as hers. But my cookies never got in the oven. I never asked her why, I could already tell. They were dirty from my hands, bad shaped and ugly. I just knew they would never be so good to deserve to be tasted.

Even on your good days, mother; you ripped my heart off with your pointy blood red nails. Damn you.”


I remember one day that we had one of these long walks together; Emily in her white airy dress in such contrast with her black leather motor boots and her heavy steps, her black top leather jacket and the shades, with her back upright, her head up and the helmet under her arm. Chatting about nothing and all; me talking mostly and her just walking, listening, slightly smiling at times and nodding every now and then.

I tell her about my crazy days at home with the kids, husband is out all day, no one from the rest gives a hand and my life is just a mess. Happy yes, but still a mess. I’m sleepless and dead tired, with dirty dishes always in the sink, a pile of dirty clothes waiting to be washed and little dusty balls in every corner. I joke with her about how disastrous can be having kids in the kitchen and that I put the boys to play with a piece of pastry, telling them to make some cookies and keep them occupied while I made the real ones, the ones I would bake.

“Was it modeling clay?” she asks and suddenly my giggle and chitty chat mood puffs away. I know her well and honestly I don’t like her ironic tone.

“No, it was a pastry piece from the one I made for the cookies” I repeat, slower and in low voice this time, with a question mark hovering untold. “It was real pastry, not modeling clay. Of course I didn’t bake their cookies, they were all dirty from their hands and all the kneading. Don’t worry, you didn’t eat any of those!” I said with a voice more squeaky than wanted, trying to sound indifferently funny but I already felt the shame flaring inside me. And I don’t know why. What did I do wrong.

Emily stops and looks at me in a way that scared me for real. It was only for a moment, but the fear was all real. My crazy heart beating would confirm the feeling. She has her arms stuck in her sides, her fists are tightly closed and the knuckles turned white.

“Next time give your kids a bowl, flour, the pack of sugar and all the ingredients for your real cookies”. I didn’t like the sound of that “your real cookies”.

“Let them mix them and make the pastry on their own, form it, brake it, knead it again for as long as they want. Shape it, play with it and do as they like. Then put the cookies in the oven and bake them, opening the stove every single time they want to check on them, letting them look and touch carefully if they want. When you take them out, they will all be ugly, bad shaped, dry, hard as a brick and half burned.

And you are going to eat them all, praise them for their great job and thank them for their help. It’s then when you are going to have a real mess in your kitchen, with flour and sugar on the floor, creaking as you walk and spread it all over the place at least for a week.

I assure you they are going to be the most delicious cookies you ever ate and you are going to have the greatest time of your life when you look at their faces; Shining in happiness, sunny like August days, perfect grownups for a moment, proud of themselves that made you proud of them”.

Oh Emily, where are they now…?

How I wish you were here.


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