From Wide Like An Eagle's Wing
Jilly was walking ahead of Manny on the path, humming he's got the whole world in his hands off-tune. Why did she like to sing so much when she couldn't hear notes? And she drew picture after picture though she couldn't draw, and just pretty much went about doing whatever she wanted with no one paying much attention, no one teaching her how to behave in a civilized manner, except their mother who sometimes told her to chew with her mouth shut. Jilly didn't seem to care about anything yet; was this normal human development? Look at her now, trudging along the path ahead of Manny, humming off-tune and not even knowing it, picking her nose and wiping it on her leg.
Last week during supper Jilly had taken the chopped up hamburger from her plate with her fingers and stuffed it into the vents of the radiator behind her chair! By nighttime the weather had grown unusually chilly, so their father put the heat on low and in the middle of the night the smell of burned hamburger filled their bedrooms, waking them up. When her father unscrewed the cover from the radiator he found hamburger sizzling in all the coils from the floorboard up to the vents, a summer's worth of Jilly's cruddy dried-up hamburger that looked like rabbit turds.
Jilly was carrying a rock shaped like an arrowhead. Four-leaf clovers and rocks shaped like arrowheads were her specialty. She was poking the point of the rock into her ear; this was also her specialty, stuffing things into her ears or into her nose, like the day after Christmas when they had to rush her to the hospital with her eyes rolled into her head and her back arched. Jilly had sat in the back seat with Manny, draped over her lap with Jilly's mouth wide open, the whites of her eyes staring blank as a page at Manny as if to say don't worry, nothing matters, I am no one, you are no one.
When they got to the hospital the surgeon emptied two corn kernels and four red Mexican Jumping Beans from Jilly's sinus passages. Why in the world would she stuff all that up her nose? Manny had never stuffed things up her nose. Had John F. Kennedy or Jacqueline or Ethel Kennedy, or Pierre Salinger, or Sargent Shriver ever stuffed things up their noses? Sometimes it was hard for her to tell if her family and the people she knew were normal American citizens, or if they were out of sync.
"Jilly, I'm so tired of telling you things. I don't even think you hear me. Do you hear me? Am I really here?"
"No," Jilly said, pointing her arrowhead into the sky