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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1937


page 12


At home they were driving him crazy. He knew that. There could be no possible doubt at all.

Every time he opened his mouth they jammed the words back down his throat.

Every step he took, everything he touched they found fault with.

They tormented him like gnats.

It made him sick. A nasty taste, like the one in his mouth every morning before he got up. used to come. He could feel the saliva running down the sides of his cheeks, and he had to swallow once or twice. It was horrible. Just like a ditch-full of stagnant water.

Something had to be done. There was no doubt about that either.

Their words grated in his ears. He hated his ears; they made him look like an animal, and their words used to grate in them. Like someone scraping the bone of your temples.

The skin above his ears used to get taut. He felt sure it would burst. Like a balloon blown up too hard. Life had all the terrifying expectancy of a lifted baton.

So he said to himself one day, "I'll show them." Just like that. In a matter-of-fact kind of way.

He knew he couldn't stop now. He was wound up like an alarm clock.

"I'll show them," he said, and went and got a pair of long black scissors from the sewing drawer and tried snipping bits of cardboard and leather. Just for practice.

Then, very calmly, he cut off his left ear. The one with the chilblains on. Just to spite them all.

Even though he had no Nanette to send it to, and even though he couldn't paint a line.