Girl, Luminous
Donna D. Vitucci

The girl with the luminous eyes may have been an immigrant, or part raccoon.  She had trouble seeing in light, but she was more than adept in the darkness. Blind would be the word that rose in the one mind that observed her and pondered nights while she rooted through the dumpster behind the KFC.  The slanted mind, whose gauze of cataracts softened his vision, he a squinting fly flattened to the back wall of the library, observing her, sitting cross-legged on the Story hour floor, spine so straight. She was no immigrant child. Her twelve years negated the child definition, and her birth certificate would aver her born citizenship. Then he must have been the immigrant, arrived from somewhere that touted principles her fellow-born citizens would condemn– the notion twelve years was bride-appropriate. Powerful men from his homeland took wives this young and younger.  Ancestors smiled on those unions.

Where lay his country? We no longer speak of that.  A backyard tarp with side flaps in a could-be-yours neighborhood shielded out the curious.  He owned this property that housed his wife.  Yes, wife. The girl would be his next wife, decreed in The Book as he had read and studied and accepted in his heart.  Took it to his heart, bowed head to their fates, knelt to his Lord, dressed as the villain, a man wearing a smock tagging him to Home Depot, where he bought all his tools at employee discount. His array of house and garden implements he ordered neatly in his garage, with the false back wall of lighted pegboard behind which he would squirrel her away like a winter’s nut.

One cannot easily hide a girl.  A girl brings light, emits light, shines light, reflects light.  A girl is moon in the darkest part of the month.  Drugging her was one means of dimming her. He tested his theory.

Girls like sweet things.  He offered her a Coke one day after his chicken lunch had been swallowed– grease and bread most divine.

It is pure, he said, meaning his lips had not touched.   The sheathed straw, the lid not punctured, she saw these things. Too thirsty, she nodded.

In passing the cup, his fingers briefly touched her thumb.  The callus aroused him, shamed him, inebriated him. He floated into work on the fumes of that touch.  His arm levitated the hose that sprinkled all the garden foodstuffs and flowers growing and awaiting purchase in the gated outside area, his world of drenched soil.

Time arrived when preparation would be but procrastination.  He bit down hard.  His intentions lit up his groin.  He used a navy blanket, tarp, and twine to make her into a package.  Her arms flailed; she screamed what and who, she prayed.  His teeth ground against her imploring God, his jaw passed into stone, which she socked with her fist and brought her hand away broken.

He might have killed her, but that was not in his plan.  He sheltered her behind the garage’s pegboard wall, behind his tools, each hung in the spaces he ghosted for them with a Sharpie.  He slipped behind this false partition; his approach drove her to where floor meets wall.

The first time upon her frail hips, he thought he heard cracking, for certain he heard her wishing.  He understood English; she wished he’d be swift and he was.  He straightened her fingers and bandaged them together on one wide splint, made from leftover wood.

He bent toward her in this binding, averting his eyes so her gaze could not enter his soul.  Beside her bent elbow in this hidden addition, he lay, cardamom-scented, and under his ministrations she subdivided into voices, then reduced to one voice, locust rasp, a hopper unable to fly, lapping at the grape leaves he presented, nibbling with the molars her gums had yet to throw.

She tossed her hair so it fell past her shoulders, where he took it for water, for a healthy sign.  Things he grew in the garden could have been extraordinary, but when he put them on a plate for her they were star fruit, chicory, lime.

Color passed through the garage, through the pegboard, through her bones.  These were the days, as they rained down, grey, ridiculous weather interrupting the growing season, soaking the fields.  Streams rose.  Pale and wan language to describe her he learned while reading the Norton Anthology bought from Best Bargain Books.  He only thought these descriptions.

She no longer shed luminosity. An unwholesome river wound its way from several directions, rushing the canyon where the house began listing, a river revered as the Ganges, clotted with funeral ash and sewage and offerings.

What you claim holy could just as well be ungodly, his wife said.

The Book, he declared.  He used no verb. He allowed no question to penetrate his brain.

What he didn’t say and what his wife dared not speak, how the girl could be theirs, this girl no neighbor set eyes on, who slept curled like a shrimp and resorted to thumb sucking.  Husband and wife observed the callus there, and it renewed their appetites.  It opened them like soft fruit, where their hearts gasped, conniving for sleep beside a river or a bend in the earth.

His wife had potatoes firing in the oven.  The girl was their pinned insect, she was the starch breaking down to sugar.

Donna D. Vitucci is a grant writer and development associate who helps raise funds for nonprofit clients in human services and the arts in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hawaii Review, Meridian, Front Porch Journal, Night Train and Another Chicago Magazine.  She cannot, of late, shake the plight of stolen girls.