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Hypergraphia by Kathy Fish

At sunrise, we rose from our beds and looked out the picture window like we knew. Our sister Janey sat on her duffel bag under the honey locust, scribbling on a scrap of cardboard. She was wearing ratty shorts and a halter top, but her hair was clean, shining like gold coins.

"My God," Lara said. "How long do you think she's been going around barefoot? What a hick. What a loon."

"Do we call someone?" I asked.

A robin hopped along the windowsill, flitted off. "No." Lara sipped her coffee. "That'd be wrong."

"We could use some help."

"What do you suppose she's writing?" Lara asked.

The doctor thought Janey might be having temporal lobe seizures, but she was terrified of the electrodes, refused an EEG.

Janey's hand worked across the cardboard at a clip; the pen claw-gripped, jerking. She told us once that she experienced every waking moment as a memory, that her life was like watching a film. 

"She's unsettled," I said. "She's out of harmony." Maybe Janey wrote to slow the movie down.

"I gotta get her inside. The neighbors will be leaving for work."

"She needs soothing," I said.

Janey ran away the first time when she was fourteen. A month later, we looked up from the television and saw her sitting in the dining room in the dark, eating a slice of watermelon. We ran to her and threw our arms around her neck. Her lips looked chewed and she wore silver and turquoise bangles on both wrists. She told our dad she wasn't afraid of anything, but he slapped her anyway.

Lara set her cup in the sink. "Okay," she said, “Okay.” She walked out the door and knelt next to Janey. Lara was saying something, but Janey kept writing, as if she couldn't hear, as if time were running out and there were things to say and she couldn't get it all down.


Per Contra Fiction - Fall 2006