Fiction

Boy with no face

In the room was someone far. Not speaking. Leaning down. Blanket in my mouth. Staring. All my hot tears. All my cold tears falling down. She knew and said my name.

The blanket was hot in my mouth. Wishing wishing wishing the name I would hear. Someone far above me in the light. A small light from somewhere. She said my name. I heard it. Talking into the light her eyes turned from me. And then the dark again and the footsteps going in the long long room. And nothing after. Forever and ever. Amen.

The green truck came. With lights in the darkest night. The men inside were there and true.

Someone far cried out and was never there again. Her black hair shining.

Once upon time all the cars in the world will come down the road. The mud crawling and the broken chairs. The broken bones and the broken faces rotting in the mud. The white cars with blue flags. The men inside with eyes that shine. Amen.

Seen all the world. The green hill in the window. The moth. The flies. The new babies. Eyes white as shelled eggs.

I looked up in the sky. No sound. All the way around the world. I wanted to be there. I ran and ran and ran.

In the dark so long. Amen. The dark outside or the dark inside the same. Dark a black sailing ship. My tears fell down. Where nobody came. My poor tears. One by one. Then I was dry. For ever and ever. Amen.

I saw little hands gripping the cots. Breathing in their sleep. Like dry leaves falling to the dry ground. Then they were gone.

No one now. Only I say me now.

The green truck came. With lights in the darkest night. The men inside were there and true.

Once upon time the children came. They ate green apples. Water came from the taps. They laughed. The shoes were in rows. The clothes were hanging. The apples were in a basket. Someone far was always there. She stood in the room. The cots were white. She smacked her hands together and all the babies woke. There was a moth on the window. The moth climbed the green hill. Amen.

I licked the table when the porridge spilt. Amen.

The ill one. The little one. He cried and cried. Someone far held him in her hands. Like a fish. Her eyes looked at him. She said nothing.

Someone far came. She touched my face with her lips. I waited over and over in the dark nights. All dark nights the same. That she would remember me. Her black hair shining. Amen.

The spoons fell on the floor. The cup cracked. The plate sat in the cupboard with the mouse. The flies crawled on the apple skins. The basket tipped over. The light bulb did not shine. I lost all the words. It rained into the long long room and I did not say. The moth was dead. Amen.

Once upon time a fire was in the yard. The whole window shined. My mouth bit the blanket. The blanket cried out falling from the bed. Someone far burned her black hair on the ice on the table.

When the children cried some of them weren’t children at all.

All the cars in the world will come down the road. The mud crawling and the broken chairs. The broken bones and the broken faces rotting in the mud. The white cars with blue flags. The men inside with eyes that shine. Amen.

There is only me now to find. I know my name and will tell them.

Once all the children in the world were here. I saw them. Tiny birds swam in their eyes. The birds washed all the tears out. Until the children’s eyes were dry. Their eyes were little round plates cracked in the sun. Someone far tried to mend them. Amen.

She was someone far because she was our home. Home is where you are not taken from. Home is where water comes from the tap laughing and all the shoes are in rows. As in the stories of old. Once upon time.

The green truck came. The world tipped over. In the yard the fire burned. The little ones who could not walk were carried. Amen.

In the room was someone far. Not speaking. Leaning down. Blanket in my mouth. And all my tears running down and down. The blanket pulled from my mouth and then the dark again and the footsteps going in the long long room. My hand in hers. And nothing after. Forever and ever.

I stood in the cupboard. I heard. In the dark so long. Amen.

The dark outside or the dark inside the same. Dark a black sailing ship. Like she had told me. In stories of old. Once upon time. My tears fell down. Where nobody came. My poor tears. One by one. Then I was dry. For ever and ever. Amen.

Only me now.

Once upon time I opened the door. The glass fell from all the windows. All the children in the world were gone. The apple peels were gone. The shoes were in rows. The clothes were hanging. The basket had tipped over. The moth died in my hand. Someone far was on the table where the porridge spilled. Where the ice burned. Her lips blue as flags of shining eyes. Amen.

Only me now.

They will find me in the blanket with the moth that I have kept though it is dead. With someone far’s frozen hair that was burnt on the table where she was held.

I will show how the little ones breathed. And how the ill one lay like a fish with an open mouth and open eyes. Like this. Like this. It was like this.

Amen.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 15, 2021 as "Boy with no face".

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Daniel Keene is a multi-award-winning playwright whose work has been widely produced in Australia and overseas. In 2016 he was appointed Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.