Pipes: Part One
There were the days when I felt miserable. There were the days when I felt even worse. And then, there were the days when I wanted to leap off the pipe where I live, and see what would become of me. Maybe there would be more of my kind. Or a never ending tunnel that would keep me tumbling down, into some abyss. Or just a big fall that would break all the bones in my body. That’s what I suspected, and that’s why I didn’t jump.
Of course, nobody would really miss me if I did jump. Nobody even knew I existed. I didn’t know if anyone else existed. I only suspected, since when I was younger, my mother leapt off the pipe. I am smarter than that. Maybe she had a reason, though. That’s what keeps me wondering.
My mom looked nothing like me. She was deep and blue, with a brown, yet yellow trim around the collar. Her eyes shone like the light in the pothole, miles up to the outer land. She always told me interesting things, like how to tell if a pipe is slippery beforehand.
I, on the other hand, am a beast. My fur is a ghastly turquoise blue, if I look underneath the pothole. My ears are huge, as big as my head if they were to be put together. And worse yet, my tail is long, pink and very slippery. Whenever I’m on a pipe, of course that’s always, I must be sure to lift the tail a slight inch off the ground. My eyes are a moldy yellow, unlike my mom. Hers were bright blue, with a black dot in the center. Mine have no dot.
Back then, mother didn’t mind my looks. However, she may have named me Nuld after my moldy colored eyes. I was all alone, except for my mother, and nobody could ever tease me in the pipes.
About the sewer, or I called it; it was dark. I suppose anyone would think that, considering the light hole was miles up. One of the most helpful things my mother taught me was to memorize the pipes. It takes you about a year to know exactly where you are from a mile up to the pothole, to four miles down. The main pipe is flatter than the rest, and that’s where I, and my mom, slept. It was guaranteed the safest one, if you considered that the others were about a one foot on each side.
Another thing about me and my mom; we never knew how to use our mouths. We communicated with our claws; mine two fingered, and scratched sounds on the pipes. When my mother told me I was a mutant Xweetok, it explained why I was such a beast.
One day, I woke up on the main pipe. I tried to sniff out my mom’s scent. It wasn’t there. I crawled all around, even up the four miles to the pothole, scratching out ‘mom’. She never returned the scratch. I didn’t dare go farther down. My mom had warned me about strange sounds coming from below there. I remember staring down, into the dark abyss, tears streaming out of my yellow eyes. Nobody else was with me. She had to have jumped.
I put my paws to my mouth, something I’d never done before. Pulling down my bottom lip, I pushed out a strange sound, something I’d never heard before.
“Craugh!” I pounded the word through my chest, picking up every bit of emphasis that I could. Gasping at the strange sound, I found my way down to the main pipe, and fell fast asleep.
The next morning, I awoke to find myself longing for someone to communicate with.
“Craugh!” I squealed again. Deciding to look again, I desperately scampered up to the pothole. I looked up and saw something I had never seen before. There was a hole inside of the metal disc. The light never came out from inside the metal disc, it came from beyond! My paws tickled with glee, and I pushed my yellow eye into the small hole inside the pothole.
It blinded me for a minute. The light was so strong that my eye almost rolled to the back of my head. If it wasn’t for my curiosity being so strong, I could’ve fallen right off the top pipe. My eyes settled at an amazingly lit scene. There was a huge building right above me, sitting up on its own, with no pipes at all. It was tall and blue, and read, ‘D.O.N.’ How could there be another world above me, one with no slippery pipes, and I not even notice!
Of course I could read the D.O.N. My mother knew how, by studying all the words on the pipes. Many different companies meant many different words on the pipe. The vocabulary I knew was pretty mixed. Another thing my mother used to help me with was a strange book she found up high, right where I was standing then. It read ‘dictionary,’ and with the light from the pothole, she taught me to read, and understand words.
I turned my eye to the other side. There was a small building, with a large window. I looked through the panels. It looked like some kind of store, like what I had read about in the dictionary.
Better yet, I saw something moving. It was green, and pale, with scrawny legs and arms, and if I looked inside his mouth I could almost see a tong-!
“Craughgraugh!” I croaked. My hands had lost balance, and I was hanging onto the pipe. My eyes became bigger than usual. The thing up there, it had a long pink tongue that snapped out as quick as daylight to catch something else, small and black, floating through the air. I climbed back up to the pipe, making sure my slippery tail stayed high in the air, scurried to the pipe where I kept the dictionary, and pulled it to the light. Flipping through the pages, I remembered what it was, a fly.
Running back to the pothole, I gazed right back in at the strange, tongued creature. It moved, and was writing things on a board. The board read, “Book Store Read Aloud.”
I understood every word, except for ‘aloud.’ Scanning the dictionary, the definition read that it was speaking out loud. Speaking read: words that you can hear.
Back to the lit pothole I ran, utterly confused. How could one heard words? I looked right back to the window above. The animal seemed to be moving its mouth, like I had just learned to.
“Today, in the Book Store Read Aloud, we are learning how words transfer to ‘speaking words’,” the animal said. I was amazed. Nothing like the sound the creature spoke ever went past my ears. The animal wrote the letter ‘A’ on the board in the store.
“This is the letter ‘A,’” the animal explained. Letters had sounds? My eyes went bigger than big.
“This letter,” the animal drew a letter on the board. I knew what that was. I scratched it on the pipe. B.
“This letter, my kids, is ‘B,’” the animal said. Through the voice, I learned the animal was a girl, and though she kept snapping at flies, I held on tight to the slippery pipe.
I gazed through the glassy window, open, letting me hear. Standing there for hours, I learned letter after letter. But I was not able to say them myself. Hearing the female animal say them, and I not being able to, was harsh. I wanted to be able to do this.
Hour after hour went by, standing on a pipe, learning how combinations of different letters made different sounds. I gazed in wonder. If only my mother could see this. It was something she couldn’t see though, as she was gone. The dark abyss below swallowed her up. Brushing away tears, I looked back.
“Now, we will learn to speak these words,” the creature said. I understood her, feeling quite smart and proud to understand sound words. Maybe I could end up speaking!
“To say A,” she said, “make a wide oval with your mouth, and push your throat to the back.” I went for it.
“Ah,” I stumbled, hearing myself gain control over sound was empowering.
“To say the B sound, fold your lips over each other, and push them through. Another way is to put the lips tightly together, and pull them back. Then, push your tongue into them, breaking it up.”
I folded my lips over, and pushed them through.
“Buhh,” I popped the sound of B, and tried the other way, “Thbuh!” The first way was easier and much better, I decided, and I made a mental note of how to say it.
The hours continued to pile up on each other, and I was making good progress, along with the other strange little animals above. I felt a pang of jealousy, looking at their lovely locks, and cropped fur, and black dots in their eyes. None of them could see me, and I was glad they didn’t, as they would tease me.
The sun sank lower into the clouds. That was something I didn’t know existed, but I understood that the light was disappearing. I knew I should run deep down to the main pipe before it was too dark, and you had to be much more careful. My heart beat a million times a minute; I could speak words now! The outside world was great. If they could find me, and let me stay there, it would be a miracle!
I sprinted on pipe after pipe, not being very careful, but I was still safe, nonetheless. My voice was very nice, I decided. Much prettier than my actual self, it was.
“I can speak now,” I stuttered, bounding on pipe after pipe.
I lay down on the more slippery than usual main pipe, and drifted off to sleep, unaware of what was going to happen next.
To be continued...