Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Letter Part 1 - Continued 3

Here is another segment in the book where the heart of Amy's story is revealed: Amy's Letter.

Amy: The Letter

Today, I’m so weak when I wake I decide I have to find a way out or die.  I don’t know how many days it has been.  Its dawn and the attic glows in a pink stained light.  From my pallet, I can see dusty crates. I decide that my days work will be to scour every one. Find some way out.
At first, my search is fruitless.  All I find are old hats, and some deeds and records. Then, I find a journal with a few empty pages I quickly rip out.  Then, I unearth an old quill pen and a half-empty bottle of ink and the idea hits me. The one thing I know how to do better than anything is to put down words on a page.  I can’t tell you how many times my Momma scolded me for sneaking off under the stairs with my journal.  I know how to put down words on the page and now I have a page.  As quick as the thoughts come to my mind I write them down.  I write the letter to my Momma as if she were in the room. I tell her about getting off the train, the two figures rising from the steam on the platform with smiles that were filled with ill-will.  The Madame in her thin, heeled boots and her strong man, tall and looming.  I tell her about how they spoke of the hotel the entire buggy ride up the hill: the velvet curtains, the fine china, the men and women from all over the world.  Then, how quickly things had changed once we’d arrived.  How we walked in the door and the truth slapped me across the face.  Where we stood was not the fine hotel they’d been describing: it was a brothel and I was told I was now a prostitute whether I like it or not.  I told Momma I couldn't do it. I told her how I stood up to them, told them there business was evil, and that I'd never agree to do it.  (She'll likely understand, she knows how my mouth is, how sometimes I can't keep the words from flying out).  And that's when they hit me so hard the room went dark.  I woke up locked up in what I’ve realized over time is the attic.  I told her where I am (as best as I could piece it together) and how much I love her and how I wished she’d find a way to get me out.  Then, quickly, before I could think or revise, I folded the note into thirds and wrote our address neatly on the outside of the envelope.  I crawled over to the far wall and I stuck that sad little note through the cracks.  Once I let it go, once I saw it fluttering helplessly toward the muddy, deserted street, I realized how ridiculous my plan was, and I collapsed in a heap on the floor. 

Amy: Voices at Night Made me Realize Where I Am

The world has blurred into a stream of seamed days that fly around me in whir.  Oh why did I ever get on that train?  This town is a town where no good sounds.  It’s a patchwork of voices I hear woven through the night through the window.  Desire rises like a songbird.  Or, swoops down piercing and hawk-like. Rough voices (muffled through walls) and sometimes the higher peals of female voices.  There are voices that rise like nets of fear, then there are shots or screams. Sometimes, there are sounds of tortured horses.  Or, the yelp of a kicked dog.  There are never any sounds of real birds.
Some nights I stop listening to the world outside my window and listen instead to the sounds I remember hearing from my window at night at home.  The repetition of owls, the scrape of my mother’s chair below my room as she settled into her work in front of the stove to mend clothes, the velvet silence that wrapped around the house like a salve.  I don’t think I knew I heard these sounds while I was there. Now, I sink into them for comfort.
The letter I wrote so passionately, then dropped between the slats just three days ago, in hopes that it would make it to the ground, in hopes that some kind citizen would pick it up and take it to the post, in hopes that the letter would somehow reach my mother so far away in New York, seems now to be a ridiculous farce.  Seems impossible.  The hope that bloomed around the idea like a far off kite, that billowed in the wind of escape, has now gone slack and flat.  What kind of chance is there that someone saw the letter falling down to the street.  Or, saw it as they passed by on the wooden sidewalk.  What would make them think, this is something I should mail?  And worse, what if it isn’t some stranger who finds the letter,  what if it is the Madame (who I now know is French Kate) who sees it lying there.  What kind of beating would her strong man give me if she found it?  Oh, if I could only hear the sound of my mother’s voice through the slats. That difficult woman I’ve screamed at until I was red in the face. Who smoothed my coat and pushed me in directions my entire life until now.  I’ve never really heard her words until now.  Never heard the dull, steady undertone that pulsed through each and every one: love, love, love.

Amy’s Mom: The Letter Arrives
When the letter arrived today I sat down on the floor I was so shocked.  Amy has been gone for nearly three weeks.  And now, here in front of me are words written in her hand.  A tight, thin scrawl that pitches too far to the right.  When I unfold the letter and read what is there I am surprised by the howl of an animal. A deep, guttural groan that rises out of the earth, until I realize it has come from me.  My daughter, locked up in an attic?  My daughter, forced into prostitution?  As soon as I can stop my hands from shaking I read the letter again.  Then, I put on my shoes, run to the stable, place a bit on Amy's horse Willow (she's the fastest) and tear off into town towards the Methodist church where I know I'll find Amy's Pa.  We are coming Amy.  I scream into the air as loud as I can.  We are coming to save you.

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