Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Sticks & Stones

Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Sticks & Stones

Article excerpt

'Bloody Johnny-come-latelies! Telling me how to do my job!' Ralph shook the letter at Miriam.

She kept her eyes on her coffee cup, blowing softly into the steam.

Ralph started. She knew he would. His words rushed together as he shifted up a gear. 'I was in the army in Baghdad before that little bastard was swimming in his dad's bag! I won't take crap from him!'

Miriam held her coffee in her mouth until it cooled. She'd read once about a monk who carried a stone in his mouth for three years to master the power of silence.

Ralph glared at her. 'Can you believe the nerve of it?'

She glanced away from the spittle on his lips and kept her own firmly closed. Before she had discovered that her words were not worth the same as Ralph's she used to let go sometimes, used to really let him have it. But she always missed the mark. After he had left for work, she'd find the words he refused to acknowledge scattered amongst the crumbs on the table, or strewn carelessly across the floors. And when she came across whole sentences in the daytime silence of the house, she would turn over what she had really meant to say until it dazzled. But, by the time Ralph returned, her words had lost their brilliance. He'd stare blindly at his lamb and three veg, and fork food into his mouth with a pained expression, as if her misshapen ideas had tainted the mint dressing.

Ralph jabbed a finger at the letter. 'Official warning it says! Apparently some of the pooftas at the plant don't like the way I speak. …

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