Ana Del Castillo
If you don’t move or make a sound, nothing bad will happen to you
You are nine years old, and you sit there because you’re lonely and no one talks to you except your dog, which is ok most of the time, but you still find yourself just wanting to be spoken to by a person. Listened to. Noticed somehow without really being noticed. Or hurt. Well, something like that. But you sit there thinking nothing bad can happen to you if you don’t move or make a sound. That’s what you think, anyway.
You are sitting in your backyard with the painter, who you don’t know by name, and your dog Boby. You have your arms loosely wrapped around your shins, and your chin is lightly resting on your knees. You are trying as hard as you can to disappear in your skin, and you know you can; you’ve done it before, lots of times, only not on command. So here you sit with the painter and your dog Boby in your backyard on a perfect Florida day, trying as hard as you can to disappear in your skin. But it’s hard to do that when The Painter keeps distracting you with magazine pictures of men and women having sex, and questions about whether you imagine his cock would be nicer than the guy’s cock in the magazine. So you sit there thinking nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t move or make a sound. Well, that’s what you think, anyway.
And there you continue sitting, day after day, for two weeks because you are lonely and you have no friends because you feel as though you are on your own little island where no one can reach you. You are so afraid of being hurt that you wouldn’t dare go and ask your brother Dani to play with you because he’s so mean to you. And last night, your father slapped you across the face so hard at dinner that your lip swelled so that you couldn’t eat your food without wanting to cry. And all you want is for someone to talk to you without hurting you or making fun of you. So there you sit and listen to The Painter talk about how he would like to fuck you like the men in the magazines are fucking the women, and how it would feel so good to do that. To feel your pussy, and do you ever look at your dog’s cock, and do you ever fuck your dog? But you don’t answer him because if you don’t move or make a sound, nothing bad will happen to you. Well, that’s what you think, anyway.
So there you are sitting with your arms loosely wrapped around your shins with your chin resting lightly on your knees, when The Painter sits down next to you on his last day, for the final time. He tells you he wants to show you something and then takes out his penis, which, when you look at it, makes you want to cry because you are so afraid and ashamed of what you are sure you have made him do. You realize that you just didn’t try hard enough to disappear into your skin, and if you had succeeded in doing that, then nothing bad would have happened to you. You know that if you hadn’t loved, or needed, or wanted, or felt so much, then none of this would have happened. That makes you want to cry even more because you turned the only person who was nice to you and noticed you, into a monster. Like you turn everyone you love into a monster. And you just wish you could disappear on command but you don’t know how to do that.
And all you want is for The Painter to stop touching you nicely like that on your back because you want so badly to be touched that way. But not while looking at his penis. His penis is the biggest thing you have ever seen in your life, and it looks like an enormous eel or something that wants to eat you. It looks as though he is holding it back from jumping out at you and attacking you, and you just want to die or disappear for real because this is so terrible.
And now all you can do is sit there and wait until this whole thing is over with. You pray to God and promise him that you’ll never do whatever terrible thing you did to cause this. You wonder, why does The Painter need your hand to rub his eel back and forth when he has to put his own hand over yours anyway to make it work. And God, you are sorry that you almost like the feel of his eel in your hand. It’s smooth, smoother than your mother’s beautiful skin, and you like feeling like you are somehow controlling this big, veiny, live thing. It feels powerful and hot, and you don’t understand all the chaotic feelings you have or why he needs to do this. All you know is that you are wrong. And all your feelings are wrong. And this is so terribly wrong. And your whole world is wrong. But no one will listen to you.
So there you sit and think about chocolate milk while The Painter has his hand wrapped around your hand, that’s wrapped around his eel, while you both rub it back and forth for some reason you don’t understand. And while you are trying to take your mind off the eel and you are thinking of chocolate milk because chocolate milk is something you can understand, the eel gets noticeably hotter and suddenly jerks violently. The Painter moans in a way that makes the space between your legs tingle, and it all feels good and strange and confusing and awful at the same time. In that exact moment, the eel spits out the most disgusting, ropy, milky phlegm you have ever seen. You know in that moment that you will never be able to drink chocolate milk again without thinking of this phlegm, and this is what finally moves you into oblivion.
You disappear. But not for good. Not yet.