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© 2005 - 2008 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas.


I blame her. I blame her because she had me believing I could quit them easily, stuff them in the inside pocket of an old jacket, smother them between the leaves of a book I’d never read again, tear up a square section of my bedroom carpeting, nailing it down afterward so their retrieval would feel like a chore, so I'd sleep safe. That’s what Madame Kay told me to do.

“You can’t silence them completely,” she’d said, “but you can muffle their voices so you don’t know what they’re saying.”

I blame her. I blame her for leaving the Psychic Line, for wanting to be back home with her ailing mother, for telling me she was sorry on her last day answering the phone, sounding like she was choking back tears calling me by my child instead of the name I’d given. “My child,” she’d said, “we’ve made such strides.”

When we began our work together, she promised they’d eventually pitter patter like drops of rain on my window glass, and they did for the most part, for as long as I knew Madame Kay was on the job. If there was trouble, I’d call her and tell her it was thundering again. “Close your eyes,” she’d say, and then transport me places, the Voyageur Bus Terminal, Wal-Mart, telling me I should learn to mind my own business, holding my hand when I was too scared from seeing their faces. But these voices were just people going about their daily lives. “See? Quit your eavesdropping,” she’d said, asking me if I felt like a cup of hot cocoa from the concession stand. “It’s you doing the eavesdropping.”

When I was small, sleeping in the basement room my parents had finished just for me, I would listen to the furnace starting up, buckling the wood paneling on my walls, taking the air out of my room, my lungs, so I couldn’t call out for help. I’d learned it was best to tuck my feet in under the blanket, rock my body until I was wrapped tight, and just listen -- to the burners hissing madly, to the footsteps coming closer, shutting my eyes when I thought they were nearer my bed.

I blame her they've found me again. I blame Madame Kay I can't hide anymore, not since they've seen me at the Wal-Mart desperately trying to shield my face yet unable to look away. She’d been feeling anxious for me her last day on the phone, saying I should take back the air, throw the covers to the floor. My child! My child! These were people (monsters!) I’d invited into my life. She’d seen them walking up and down the aisles at the Wal-Mart, or shuffling about in the bus terminal. “Open yours eyes to them and you’ll see they’re people just like us.”

No. These aren’t people. Not like me and Madame Kay are people.

I blame her. I blame her, my walls are buckling again as I rock myself to sleep every night, the voices like the burners hissing madly.



Blaming Madame Kay - Flash Fiction by Antonios Maltezos