A sampling of my short story written in 2009. Of course, this is an autobiographical piece so names and locations were change to keep the peace.
HER FINAL EPISODE HAPPENED AT SCHOOL months after the beach incident. This time it didn’t involve Conner or Mr. Mathews. I only witnessed a few moments of her outburst before the teachers grabbed her, but it was a very shocking scene that was forever locked in my mind. I was sitting in literature class going over Caribbean prose when we heard the swift movement of desks and chairs sliding across concrete floor. It was then followed by a crowd of teenage voices chanting in the classroom next door. The sound grew in such intensity that our literature teacher stopped to investigate what was going on. She told us to remain seated, but no one took note of her command, so we all followed her to see what was going on. When we got to the corridor, Sara was waving her arms in the air, flailing like a fish recently plucked from the ocean. It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen; I could only equate it to my many visits to non-Catholic churches. Where people jumped around claiming to have the Holy Ghost inside of them. She was doing the same exact thing, but it wasn’t the right place or time. It all happened in less than two minutes, but it felt like she was doing this for a very long time. While she gyrated, the teachers desperately tried to handle the 40 plus screaming and cheering students; who all chanted the lyrics to Missy Elliott’s song “Get Ur Freak” over and over again.
Sara moved away from the classroom door, then made her way to the center of the corridor then onto the grassy knoll. While she was doing this, her face didn’t seem to register the fact that she was giving a candid performance that was growing licentious by the second. In the very last moments, she held her hands in the air, waving them like she was trying to kill bugs while performing an Afrocentric dance. That afternoon, Sara was moving as if invisible forces were propelling her in circles causing a burst of misplaced energy. I thought that the teachers allow this incident to carry on for longer than needed, but I couldn’t deny the fact that we were all fascinated by her behavior.
By the time this incident occurred, Sara was in bad shape. When I looked at her in those days, there was a general unkemptness about her. Weeks earlier, she cut her hair in attempts to copy Halley Berry’s short hairstyle. Instead of going to the hair salon to cut her hair, she did it herself. After she cut it, she straightened her hair with a chemical straightener. She left the chemical straightener on her hair too long, causing a chemical burn that didn’t heal properly. Instead, of avoiding the use of other products during the healing process, she continued using styling gels and hairspray which only served to irritate the infected area. It made everything worse, so a simple chemical burn started to fester into a giant oozing sore. Some students claimed that her head smelled and called her maggot head. I had the chance to see it close up and it looked horrible, but she refused to go to the nurse. It was clear that she stopped caring, and that was strange because Sara was always into fashion and presenting a socially acceptable appearance.
After Sara made it to the grassy area, she started spinning out of control, while flicking her school skirt above her waist exposing her underwear until the counselors stopped her. That day they took her away, and we never saw her in school again. It was the last disturbance we would ever have involving her. As they dragged her off, she kept her arms above her head and appeared to lapse into a catatonic state. When it was all over, we watched as they stuffed her into the back of a teacher’s car. I asked my teacher where she was going that afternoon, and I was I told that they were taking her to the local clinic for medical treatment. After that, she disappeared from school and the village. I was left to quietly assume that her father decided to keep her at home, while the news of her performance died down, but that wasn’t the case.
Two month after this incident she showed up in the village again. This time she had a haircut that was worse than before. Her hair was cut very low to her head with a few visible bald spots. She showed up at my door, and I was lucky to be the one who answered because my brother would have asked her to leave. When I first saw her, I was in shock. She looked very skinny, pale, her clothes were dirty, and two sizes too large. She didn’t look like the same person, and spoke in an unsteady robotic tone. I was so taken by her state that I couldn’t talk to her the way I use to. I couldn’t keep my bearings long enough to pretend like everything was normal. It was sickening to see her in that state, so I had to end our conversation until I could digest what I saw. The afternoon she showed up, I distinctly recall that three of her front teeth were missing. I asked her what happened and she said they had to be removed due to cavities. I tried to recall if she had any visible tooth decay to her front teeth, but I couldn’t remember. When she left, I had vivid flashbacks of her mouth with the missing teeth. I could clearly see that there were tiny pieces of each tooth still visible just above the gum. This made me believe that someone had knocked her teeth out.
During the time Sara was away, I learned that she was institutionalized. I wasn’t sure when she was locked up, but her disappearance was noticed in my life. I remember asking her sister and father about her well-being, but they would only say she was okay. I never dared to ask my mother to allow me to see her because I knew she wouldn’t let me go. Her ignorance would have made her believe that what Sara had was contagious. Then there was the fact that her pride mixed with what the villagers were saying was enough to restrict my involvement.
After Sara returned, everyone seemed to accept her situation. No one questioned her father despite concluding that years of neglect and abuse may have caused this breakdown. I noted that there were some days where she was functional, then other days she wondered around the village in a trance. There were days when her father, sister, Tanya, and Marsha would run behind her in a desperate attempt to get her indoors. During these first few months, she was medicated and moved like a robot zombie. When she escaped from her house due to lack of supervision, I would see her passing by taking small steps as if she would break. Sometimes she would talk to herself while shouting and swinging her arms at an invisible person. This was my first time seeing someone I knew suffer from profound mental anguish on this scale.
to be continued…