I didn't expect it, but I should've; she was standing there tighter than normal, standing with her four feet of self, that's it, that's all you got, said God, that's all I'm giving you to contain it ALL, and she had this blank look on her face and i was back to my elbow, still watching, about to close my eyes again when she gritted her teeth and in the center of a second reared her head back, and before I even knew what was happening, hurtled it forward and slammed it with all her might into the hard wood of the door frame. And before I even knew what I'd seen, I heard it, heard the batter and bash of her skin and skull, the weight of the blow, and her forehead split open, broken continents, bleeding.
She drew her head forward and slammed it back into my chest, ramming so hard it clipped me on the chin, socked me with the weight of her cranium, and I could feel the breath knock out of me for a second, feel my sternum bloom open and bruise, but I held on even tighter, and she tried again but this time I clamped a hand down on her forehead, palm on her skin, wet now with blood, mashing her head into the nook of my neck.
She was kicking up her legs, thrashing around like a drowning man.
Now you're going to get FIRED, she said. No more math class. Her head was bucking but I kept my hand hard on her forehead, pressing down, her whole brain, her small skull. She kicked her legs up higher and harder. And by the end of the summer, no more mother, she said. And soon a new math teacher and Ann is going to be going to the school for kids with no legs.
Lisa kept kicking and thrashing in my arms and she swallowed and it turned into a gulp and I could feel her whole body starting to shake. And she yelled, Let me go, and I didn't say anything back this time and she kept wriggling and thrashing and yelling Let me go! Let ME GO! Come on! I want to be one of the bloody children, I want to have cancer too, I want cancer NOW! and she was twisting and twisting but I kept holding her as tight as I could, fierce as a vise, and she said: I wanted to cut off MY arm, I wanted to do it, how come Ann got to do it, how come Danny's dad got to do it, how come Ann got the ax, I wanted to bleed all over the carpet, I want to have chemotherapy, I want to have no hair, I want to be in the hospital too, Mum's going to have to die all by herself, and she swallowed again, ragged and raw, wheezing, her body rabid with shaking, unstill, blurred, and her breathing was thick, and it was my turn to talk but I kept holding her close and I had nothing to say, there wasn't much I could say to that. No matter how many times she kept her mother company, it was clear who was leaving, and who was staying put.
- An Invisible Sign of My Own (Aimee Bender)