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I Listen Hear Now

By Avram Mlotek

Section: Arts

November 9, 2007

Apple, cheesecake, IMAGINATION, I say to my counselor, in a melodic scream. I am listening, I am trying.

Seth, focus, my counselor says. Why were you sent back to the bunk?

I understand and I do. No touching girls, no smelling girls. Not allowed. Why cant I just say it?

Mickey Mouse fly in the sky! H is for horse, I say. Tears swell in my eyes. Dont get so frustrated with me- please.

Seth, you were sent back to the bunk because you touched Jesse inappropriately. Seth is not allowed to touch girls. Seth must keep his hands to himself. Seth must not- BANG, BANG, BANG. I slam my hands hard on the wall and now my palms are red and my counselor is more upset but I do understand- I do. How can I show you?

Eat the floor! Seth bite down hard on the ground! I said.

No, Seth. Not allowed.

And in the moment that my counselor says no my knees forget about the weight of my upper body and I simply crash to the ground and I bite the wooden planks with my teeth and manage even to scrape the floor a little.

SETH!

I still bite. I still scrape. My counselor puts his hands on my back and tries pulling me up but I am stronger. I rise from the ground but my fingers scratch my counselors arms so that blood prickles down to his hands. Its lost now. I lost my chance. I lost it.

Seth, absolutely no scratching. Not allowed.

Its for babies. Cap'n Crunch, eat the oatmeal, Seth play soccer, I say but at that moment my counselor drags me out of the back door and places me in time out on the porch- in back of our bunk.

If Seth cant respect the bunk and cant respect the people inside the bunk and cant behave the way he should inside the bunk- then Seth will stay outside the bunk.

I scream to this. My counselor goes back inside. I am alone. I pant heavily and look all around me. I stand on top of the bench and jump as high as I can on it;

I shake my hands ecstatically so that my fingers are no longer heavy but are part of some kind of pendulum, where they just hit each other- fast and hard. I slam on the ceiling and try pulling off some of the screen window. As I do this, I sing loudly,

WHO KNOWS THE MUFFIN MAN, THE MUFFIN MAN? WELCOME TO SESAME STREET.

No one is listening to me. No one is on the porch. No one is watching me. I stop everything immediately and still breathing heavily, I lean over the railing and look out into the woods. The trees, bushes and flowers of these woods form a sea of green all around me and this calms me somehow. All I want to do is cry. I am still lost- so lost. I cant control anything. I cant control myself. I hate the words I have and I wish I could show you that- yes, I do get it. But I cant do it.

I sit back down on the bench and hum something to myself. I slouch. I take my shirt into my hands and bite down hard, creating a hole in my t-shirt. Im still humming now. And I tear through the shirt, so that it is eventually broken into several small pieces. Was this what you were waiting for? Why did you let me get like this? Where are you now?

Both my counselors come to the porch a few minutes later. I am crying and they know it. They know.

Seth, one of them says.

I continue to cry.

Seth, do you want to stay in camp or do you want to go home like Jay?

I hear these words through my cries and I manage to say, Seth stay in camp.

I know my counselors are sighing now and I would too but I am still sad.

Seth, we want you to stay in camp too. But in order for Seth to stay in camp- Seth needs to listen to counselors. Seth needs to keep his hands to himself. No scratching, no touching girls. Seth worked on a list of appropriate things to say to girls- but no touching girls. And Seth has other ways to show hes angry- but no scratching counselors- no scratching anyone. Okay?

Okay, I say.

And if Seth touches girls again or scratches again- Seth will have to talk to Molly and might go home.

Talk to Molly and might go home, I repeat.

Yes, Seth, the other counselor says- the one who I hurt. Seth, what will happen if you scratch again? What will happen if you touch another girl inappropriately?

Talk to Molly and might go home like Jay. Seth stay in camp.

My counselors exchange glances. Theyve tried enough now. Theyre tired. I see it in their faces.

Okay, Seth, the counselor says, you can go get a new shirt and go back to the activity. You will apologize to Jesse later before dinner. You can go now.

I jump at the sound of this and am about to run back to the bunk but I stop myself. I turn around and look at my counselors.

Seth sorry scratching, I say quickly to the woods. I then turn around, my back still facing my over worked counselors. I open the door and head back to my area, looking forward to returning to the group activity which Id missed and excited for my new, whole t-shirt.

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