To come sudden to the light

Abandoning the wet and warm.

And the agony of knowing exactly

Who and what and where

But unable to say.

Handed to strangers in blue and green

And given pain ... Pain the first knowing moment.

Wet again but rubbed fiercely dry...

Held out and ignored.

"It's a girl," Good Lord ... there's another one? There must be ... I am absolutely a boy.

Oh god, the headache ... forced through a too small opening

The skull misforms, collapses to fit the hole.

And knowing but unable to say.

A face ... all night stubble so coarse and held to.

The mind ... formless but knowing, speaking for the first time, "Daddy."

"He did not say that," said the man with the blue mask.

"If he didn't ... what did he say?" answered the the stubble face.

"We're losing her..." Her? Which her?

"Charlie ... you need to leave," said the blue mask.

"We'll call you from the lobby if we need you," said another mask. "Nurse ... take the boy to the nursery."

"I'm sorry Mr. Austin,

"We couldn't save her,

"Someone to make the arrangements?

"You have a son ... and a daughter."

Twins ... who knew?

"Charlie ... they need you."

The brain said ... foot ... Wave and the foot waved. There are two ... wave ... they kicked ... not kick ... wave ... they waved. Hands ... wave.

"That is the most active kid ... look at him go," exclaimed the nursery nurse.

"Did you hear what he said when Mr. Austin picked him up?" asked the gossip.

"Yes ... I heard ... but it had to be a burp ... babies can't do that," said the nurse.

Babies can't do that ... I hear that 10/12 times an hour. I can.

Standing at the nursery room window, daddy said, "Harry ... Mr. Bleeker ... it's not his fault."

"That brat killed my daughter," spoke Mr. Bleeker, a husband, father and grieving.

Who is that brat?

Daddy, turned to Harry's wife, "Myrtle ... Mom ... Mrs. Bleeker ... please ... they'll need you."

She said, "I never want to see or speak of that brat again."

By my third birthday I hadn't said a word. My sister Grace, was walking ... talking ... potty trained ... learning to tie her shoes. We had a succession of foreign nurses. Grace knew five languages.

I sat ... ate ... shit ... was changed when I stunk ... stared off into ... something ... nothing.

Then I was five.

Mr. Lancaster said, "Mr. Austin, he must go to school ... it's the law. Six weeks ... he must be in school He's five."

I raised my head ... school. Bullies ... hot milk from the radiator ... the nap rug ... God ... Mrs. Neirgarth. It's true ... it's all true ... I've done this before.

"Do I have to, father?" I spoke for the second time in my life.

He and the superintendent stopped their argument.

"Look ... I know all that," I said.

I ran throughout the multiplication tables ... divided a nine digit number by 12, in my head. Quoted Shakespeare's 'To be to not to be, ' in its entirety. I took a pencil from the desk ... It was a stretch but I got it ... and asked for 'a piece of stationary', not paper and wrote the alphabet in print upper case and lower case and, 'To whom it may concern' in cursive ... I sat on the floor and tied my shoes.

The two of them stared at me.

"Holy shit!"

Chapter 1 »