December 8, 2010
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
I know who I am. I open my eyes under water every day and watch the bubbles pop at the surface. I only take baths when I can’t get hot water, which is every day anyhow. Men down in the town always smile at me when I walk into the market and they whisper that I’m an angel of gawd, but it don’t mean nothin’.
I’ve got long strands of gold that sprout from my head and reach down to the ground, dragging in the dirt. I treat ‘em like my babies and comb ‘em out with hot wax each night. Sometimes I dip my hands into the wax and then slide my hand out when it hardens, leaving empty shells, which I line up on my windowsills. All of my windows are full of light blue wax hands that wave to passersby and say, “I’m an angel of gawd!” just like the men say.
I don’t remember much about arrivin’ here except that it was real windy that day and my papa had me in the car and told me to hop out and buy some milk. He pressed a coin into my palm and told me he’d be waitin’ right there in the beat-up Chevy when I came back. While I was in the store, the dust came, and when it settled, my papa was gone, like a magician had conjured him away.
I waited months, but he never did come for me.
I moved up into a house on the hill over yonder. I moved up over there because I didn’t have nowhere else to go and no one to talk to except the other boy who can’t speak. And even then, I don’t got no one to talk to none.
When I try to speak to people, I open my mouth real wide and push with my lungs but it don’t work too good and all people hear is a desperate and painful cry, a woman dying without no satisfaction. There ain’t no place in the world for a girl like me. A girl with no money and no voice, although some men like a quiet woman. I make real good steak and potatoes but no man ever wants to come over for no dinner with a girl who can’t say nothing. I’m real quiet you see. It’s probably on account of my being mute and all.
Once when I was seventeen, a man made love to me. He held me down and he made love to me and I wanted to yell in delight, but I don’t got no voice and all he heard from me was the sound of a dog being shot, a low moaning, a low moaning sound, and he stopped and he looked at me, a pale girl of seventeen her armpits untrimmed and her stomach an expanse of golden silk and he looked real good and he said to me that he wanted me because I was real quiet so his wife wouldn’t hear downstairs where she had the tube on, watching cooking shows with Julia Child who is a strange woman herself. And then he told me to get out and threw my little cotton underwear at me.
You know, I don’t feel too weird about none of this. I mean, he did throw my panties at me, but I don’t know why. I thought he loved me. And I never did see him again. I think men think I’m real intriguin’, but they don’t stick around. I see them one day and they’re gone the next. It’s like I’m an experiment for them to try out a girl who don’t talk none. I want to love and I do love, but no one loves me back. I’m tryin’ real hard. But you know, no hard feelings about none of this. I don’t think nothin’ of it. It’s just sometimes, well sometimes, I feel real upset about not being loved, but I’m pretty optimistic. Someone’ll come ‘round eventually.
I was already living up here in Cannonville at the time with that man. I been living here since I had about fourteen years, you see. That was when magic took my daddy away from me.

The Town:
We knew who she was before she came. She was the partner for our Tommy, our mute boy in town. We was hoping for him because he was around twenty-two and his sexual frustration was starting to get real pent up and we wasn’t sure what to say or do because God don’t like premarital sex. We needed a virgin for him to marry and hold forever. God sent us an angel but she moved up on that hill and we don’t ever see her besides Sundays at the market. And now Tommy is twenty-six and he still ain’t had a woman.
We’ve been wondering about her now. What does she do up there? She’s all alone.

I am Lucille. Lou, as in my uncle. Seal, as in my favorite animal.
I was born a mute.
My papa left me here in a dust storm. God didn’t want him to have me no more. God didn’t like that my papa had taken me as his wife. You see, we got married, my papa and I, when I was thirteen. How’d he get away with it? I don’t have a voice. I can’t say, “I do” or “I don’t.” I’ll never learn to say it either way and so he took me home. He never did touch me, just collected my checks from the government that I receive on account of not having no voice to speak with. No one values my opinion because I can’t convey it none to no one and my papa didn’t educate me none neither. We used to drink a lot of beer in the house because it was cold and the summers were the kind that leave you drenched and make your skin prickle like you had been tickled by a cactus.
Sometimes at night, I touch myself because no one will ever love me.
I’m a human being. I want to eat, drink, sleep, and make love. Just like everyone else. My needs don’t change on account of my having no voice.
I wanted to be a preacher or a gospel singer when I was a little girl. I thought you grew up and you grew a voice and I was so wrong and my body aches at night, my bones vibrate and creak and someone says to open up, but there’s no one there. Nothing but myself. And then I hit myself because lust is a sin and the Lord will strike me down for touching myself like that. My daddy would’ve hit me just the same if he’d seen me. I don’t know what comes over me, but I’m so lonely, I’m longing, I look. For. Him. In. My. Dreams.
That’s where I saw Mr. Benjamin Crander. He appeared in my dream and I know he’s real. He’s a real angel of gawd.


The hands beckon me in, their blue fingers grab at my flesh and tingling encapsulates my being. I am enclosed in vibration when I see those hands. They are so small, all the same size, all belonging to that girl. She is the most beautiful. I saw her those years back, her gold hair, waxed and shining and looking at me, my eyes reflecting in glistening gold and my innocence stared me right in the face, taunting for me to turn my back to it. My future must be somewhere in that hair.

Those hands. Hands. Minute, child’s, I feel their touch in my dreams.

I dream of gold and hands that weave and clutch each notch of my spine while I suspend myself above her, looking into wide eyes, looking at my own confusion. I dream in silence. My voice is absent, on eternal leave. I hear hers is too. I hear nothing, but I hear her voice in my dream.


That boy, the one who can’t talk, stood right ‘round the corner from my house and watched me dress yesterday. I didn’t respond none, didn’t even sneak a look, but I knew he was there looking real intent on my golden being. I am golden, you heard? Golden and silent, like the most expensive statue of all.

While he watched, I felt something weird come over me. It was warm, but my insides felt like a pretzel. It wasn’t- well- Not like the delight like that time that man with the beard made love to me. I don’t remember his name no more but I know he had a beard and that was right after me and daddy was living as husband and wife over in Orange, which I always thought was a silly name for a town anyhow. We left there a while back, leavin’ dust behind us and risin’ dust ahead of our vehicle, the beat up Chevy in dark blue, like the way mama’s eyes had been, almost navy.

Papa was in the Navy when he was just a lil’ boy, back in World War II. I like that a real lot. I bet he was real brave, unlike when we was married and he just drank and talked about peoples dyin’ sometimes. There was also lots o’ talk ‘bout some foolishness involving my mama bein’ alive and havin’ not died in child birth. I know better than that. I don’t know much, but I know that woman been long dead.

Anyway, that boy just watched, stared with eyes real absent, takin’ in my burn scar across my side from when I leaned up against a curlin’ iron as a child. Never quite healed right ‘cause papa don’t like no doctors, don’t trust ‘em, since mama died in his arms in the bed at the hospital. She died holdin’ me. He’s says we looked like sleepin’ angels of gawd.


We heard that girl’s got a scar on her stomach and some other little ones on her back. The one on her stomach look like a burn mark to Tommy, but the little ones look like someone beat her real bad. You don’t think that’s why she come into this town? Run away from someone bad? Be been done that before and you know? Every time we harborin’ a fugitive or some beaten wife, we end up with some a**hole rollin’ his a** into town, gettin’ drunk in our bar, and then some sorta confrontation with whoever the lady is. We don’t like no trouble in our town. Goddamn, we’s only about four-hundred people anyway.


That boy who can’t speak none either knocked on my door today. Hottest day of the year I tell you, probably over a hundred ten degrees. I been making tea, sweet tea, like honey, thick and syrupy and coatin’ your tongue just like it s’posed to. And he knocked.

I ain’t ever had no knock on my door. No one ever come up here on this here hill and said hello. But I opened the door, he smiled, and raised his hand. I raised mine the same and he touched it. His hands is about three times the size of my baby ones.


She made me lunch, sandwiches with no crusts and we motioned at each other to communicate. She didn’t tell me much of anything important, but she lives alone and she ain’t married. And she didn’t run away from anyone. Someone left her.

Then we played chess, sliding our pieces across a chess board she made out of cardboard. She plays against herself sometimes and also plays solitaire. She’s got a nudie deck. I think I blushed real bad when she showed me. I ain’t ever seen pornography before.


Tommy’s been up at Lucille’s for a week and we’re hoping they’re falling in love and he’s finally going to have a lady, a real lady. He came down to see his mama and said he’s fallin’ for her. He says she’s got tiny hands and tiny feet and a little upturned nose. He says she’s an angel of gawd.


Tommy’s a real nice boy. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, but I’s in love with Benjamin Crander. I just know it. I know Benjamin is waiting for me. He’s got satin skin and silk lips and feathers for hair. His features are real dark and he wears slim suits and crocodile skin shoes. Ain’t that just the most luxurious thing you ever heard of? He comes to me in my dreams and money spills from his pores and his maid bathes me in hot soapy water and he comes in when she’s done and he takes off all his clothes and he climbs into the water beside me and we kiss long and hard and then we lay on the marble floor and my back’s real cold and he makes slow methodic love to me. I know he does.


We run around in the yard, in the tall grass. She’s like a child. She catches fireflies and thinks they’re the most wonderful thing in all the world. To her, everything is a luxury. The earth itself is heaven. She’s also real religious and told me all about God with her eyes. She tells me her secrets with her eyes and her eyes are navy blue. I would’ve served in the Navy but they don’t take no mutes. They say we’re dumb. I guess we are. They also don’t take people who are flat footed.

Anyway, she looked at me this afternoon and I knew she loved me, but she won’t kiss me. She won’t touch me and I’m pining for her love. I’m jonesin’ for a fix, but nothing. I see in her eyes that she doesn’t want me like that. And I love her. I love her.

I climbed into bed with her last night where we sleep all wrapped up in the sheets, our noses touching and our toes as well. She tells me secrets all night long without a word being said. I tried to climb on top of her and hold her little hands down but she cried and then she hit herself real bad for laying in bed with a man she ain’t married to.

I know now that I can’t be her lover.


He tried to make love to me. I didn’t let him because I know Mr. Crander is out there.


Tommy came down the hill and started sleepin’ in his own bed again without one word. Well, obviously not one word. But he looked mighty defeated. However, he’s still going up there on that there hill every day to eat and frolic with her, run around her garden where the weeds stretch up over their heads so that it becomes a maze of white flowers and tall grass and they run and run. They don’t ever stop going.


Tommy took me into town yesterday to see a picture show at the theater about World War II. It was real bloody but real interestin’. Blood don’t bother me none. I’m not a sissy. I been livin’ all alone for years and I take care of myself and I got myself a small hand gun too, which I’d use if I had to.

But he took me into town and I saw Mr. Benjamin Crander. He was there and he looked at me and today, he came to my house and knocked on my door and mouthed that I was an angel of gawd. And he came in and he pushed me up against the wall and he kissed me real hard like I thought he would and then something was off. He was pushin’ against me, but he was hurtin’ me and he thought my moanin’ meant I liked it, but it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that. And I was tryin’ to say stop and I was strugglin’ but he was too strong and he had my tiny hands pinned down and he kept mouthin’ that I was an angel of gawd. And in my room he put me on the bed and kept goin’ and pushin’ and hurtin’ and my insides screamed and tore open like fire and his nails got into my wrists and I felt them sink in, like the way a fencepost is pushed down into the ground. I felt like I was being crucified, like a nail was goin’ through my wrists and my tiny hands. It was like that and I was bleedin’ at my wrists and he just kept mouthin’ “ANGEL OF GAWD. ANGEL OF GAWD!”

And while he’s screamin’ I struggled to reach the night table’s drawer and I’m stretchin’ and cryin’ and he smacks me in my mouth and I get to the drawer and I push my fingers, my hand in and I pull that handgun out, it’s ivory being against my palm, and I breath slow, and I shoot Mr. Benjamin Crander in the face.

He screams loud and clear, “ANGEL OF GAWD!” and then his broken face, with a missin’ nose comes crashin’ down and his lips touch mine in a kiss of death, drippin’ hot blood into my mouth. I slide out from under him and I spit his blood right on to his perfectly pressed white shirt.

And now? I’m standin’ at the side of the road two-hundred miles away lookin’ to hitch up to California and the light is so beautiful tonight and the stars look at me and I look back and my voice is heard in my mind. I have a voice in my mind and I know who I am and it’s not who my daddy wanted or Tommy wanted or any man wants. I am Lucille Bennett. I am mute. I am an angel of gawd.

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

sadie912 said...
Dec. 10, 2010 at 6:24 am
oh . my . god . <3
Site Feedback