Abandoned in the Courtyard of Youth
by C. A. Cole
Illustration by Noralie
Faceblind by

The girl, like any girl of a certain age, of a certain time, is alone in the brick courtyard of her grandmother's manse; the susurrus of ivy covering the north wall soothes her the way the baby doll given to her by her well-intentioned relative does not. She has thrown the toy against the bricks. Dolls with molded plastic heads and unbendable limbs are for girls with no aspirations. Even at ten she wants more, more than babies with their guava-colored shit.

She has been relegated to this drafty courtyard with its rooty tree and black beetles with shiny wings, enclosed in a block of dead air, locked away from the leafy town. The tintinnabulations from the church at the end of the street fill her mid-afternoon aloneness.

She imagines cities sprouting where the masonry picnic table abuts the steep wall of her prison, the slithery bugs — darkling beetles — sedans on the road to the megalopolis of stone. The Betsy Wetsy with its cracked skull is a giant alien crashed to earth. The girl makes the doll stamp on the miniature cars like the automobile her father drives when he visits the woman in the room of crimson drapes, the crunching of shells like the sound of wrecks on the highway. Silky material blows around that woman's cataract of blonde hair, this woman who is not her mother, whom her father should not touch as if he wants to undulate into the satin with the woman and shun the little girl. She scoops up a bug to save in a plastic cup, which she'll set free in the woman's bed.

She pulls her sweater closer as the sun lowers behind the wall of ivy whose knocking echoes the sound of tiny bells, scurrying of insect feet.

Her brother, bigger, grubby in his tee-shirt, with a frown she's learned to fear, busts into her space.

"That's mother's sweater." He yanks it off her shoulders, leaving her bare arms exposed.

"Give it back," she screams, but he runs down the alley into the last warmth along the street, hugging the yellow yarn with its handmade loops beginning to unfurl. She wishes she could douse him with a pail of water from a fissure deep in the earth. Before her he would deliquesce into a pile of oozing exoskeletons. With the tip of her fingers she'd rescue the sopping mass of yellow — almost guava — yarn and cocoon the damp sweater back around her body.

Abandoned in the Courtyard of Youth © 2011 C. A. Cole
Faceblind © Noralie