Emily Sticks


Why had she been given bundles of twigs instead of hands? She could do nothing with them, for fear of splinters. Why had she been banished so early in life?
Emily felt she would always be stranded on the cusp of adulthood. She somehow knew she would never grow old, but this was no consolation. To never be able to touch another, to embrace someone. To snag them, and tear them, that was all.
She never felt complete. Not in her empty arms. Not in her unconscious soul. Above all, she wanted her mistress to take her back, to embrace her and envelop her and cry for her. She wanted to see herself through her eyes and be loved.
Emily was always summoned by the sound of her mistress unsettled in her sleep. She would follow the soft erratic breathing in the darkness of the bedroom. Her mistress would start to mouth words. “No.” Her hands would push away at shadows. And louder, “No!” Her mistress thrashing her legs.
She would silently stand in the shadows by her bed, tearfully watching her in her throes. Those unconscious eyes staring in terror. “NO!”
It was painful to watch, but what could she do?  She could not touch her and wake her, for she knew she would again be banished. She could not offer comfort, only a hard, brittle prod.
One day, she knew not when, but she dearly hoped, her mistress would call her and welcome her and say sorry, and cry upon her sleeves, and her twigs would soften to delicate fingers, which she would run through her mistress’s hair.


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