From the Unsaid Archives: September When the Cicadas Die By Robert Lopez (From Unsaid Two)


Blind Betty says we’re underwater now. After two hours riding aboveground we go underground to cross some river is why Blind Betty says what she says. We are on this train to go visit some museum somewhere but they don’t say what for. Last time it was a bus they put us on and Blind Betty said the toxins were toxic and that if we breathed in our lungs would bleed out our earballs. They did up the floors so you could see yourself in them was the problem. I never see myself in the floors but they said I could if I looked. They say the floors shine like pool water like a mirror ball and that you can skate on them floors if you’re not careful. They put us on that bus so they could do this to the floors. Me I don’t know what good shiny floors are to blindsters or why they make me walk these blindsters around so they don’t trip over things and crack their heads open instead of someone else. They all of them gave me what for when Blind Betty cracked her head open that one time. This is not what we pay you for they said. I think I shook my head yes but I don’t remember ever getting paid by them even once. I think what it is I do here I do for free. I said this to Blind Betty once and what she said back to me was curse words. Thing about Blind Betty cracking her head open is she knows she isn’t supposed to walk without me there to walk her. I forget where it is I was when Blind Betty cracked her head open. I may’ve been out in the shed getting wood to burn. Sometimes they send me out to the shed for wood because they can’t send any of the blindsters to go do it. I don’t like getting wood because the wood has things in it like maggots or faggots or whatever it is Blind Betty calls them. Sometimes Blind Betty calls the worms faggots and calls me and Pity Jimmy maggots and sometimes it’s the other way around so you don’t know what. Pity Jimmy didn’t come with us on the train because Blind Betty says Pity Jimmy is sick and might die soon. People around here say Pity Jimmy was born the way he was and now I say it too. All Pity Jimmy does is rock back and forth like he is in a rocking chair standing up and snaps his fingers without making any snapping sounds. He also jerks his head around like there’s a gnat flying in his face. That’s why people say what they say about Pity Jimmy. Me it’s my job to give Pity Jimmy his pills after he eats in the cafeteria breakfast lunch and dinner. Blind Betty is the one who taught me which pills to give Pity Jimmy and in what order. She said it was her job before it became my job to do this. Blind Betty says if you give Pity Jimmy the wrong pills in the wrong order he will fall down and have convulsions and swallow his tongue and die. I don’t know this to be true but it’s what Blind Betty tells me. Blind Betty has fingered all the books on health and anatomy so she knows about these things she says. Thing about Blind Betty is you don’t know if you can believe her sometimes. Blind Betty is blind and blindsters lie more than regular people do I think. I’m not saying that all blindsters are born liars the way they were born blindsters but it’s something close to that. It’s because they don’t have to look anyone in the eye that makes it easy. So when I give Pity Jimmy his pills I don’t know if I’m doing it right or if I am killing him. I don’t know if Blind Betty wants Pity Jimmy dead or not neither. She hasn’t said so out loud but you can tell she thinks about it sometimes. This is why Pity Jimmy says she was born an agent orange of evil. Me I was born in the middle of monkey in the middle. All Pity Jimmy says about people is how and when they were born but he never says what it means. Pity Jimmy was rocking back and forth and snapping and jerking when Blind Betty told us about her baby brother who died. This brother was a retard that would spill milk when he ate his cereal for dinner and other retarded things like that. The way Blind Betty talks about her baby brother you wonder how he died when he died. She never tells us about that part only that one day he was dead and that it wasn’t unexpected. Blind Betty used to would make up this game for her brother about the underground world. That it was the opposite of the aboveground world and so if you were blind in one you’d be deaf in the other and so forth. Sometimes Blind Betty don’t make no sense when she talks but I like listening to her stories so I don’t say nothing about her not making no sense. This happens too when I ask her if she is looking forward to the museum. I think maybe this museum is a special one they have for blindsters. The kind of museum where you can touch things instead of just look at them. What she says back is all she looks forward to is September when the cicadas die. I don’t say anything to her when she says this to me. I don’t know who the cicadas are or why they die in September. This is when Blind Betty says we’re underwater now. Blind Betty doesn’t mention the underground world when says what she says about us underwater. I think maybe it’s because she doesn’t want to think about her dead baby brother that maybe her baby brother died in September and his name was Cicada. When she says what she says about us underwater it almost feels like we are flying down a roller coaster but not really. None of them blindsters put their arms up in the air and scream when we go underwater and neither do I. All I feel is my ears plugging up and then unplugging and I look over to Blind Betty who is fingering one of her Braille books like it’s nothing. I move my jaw like I’m chewing gum and watch Blind Betty finger two whole pages without stopping her finger even once. I can’t tell if her ears are plugging and unplugging like mine and I wonder if this can’t happen to blindsters because they’re blind.

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