Mommy told me to name it so I decided to call it Cinco because my best friend Augasantas taught me to count to five in Spanish and it was fun. But when Mommy told me to name it Daddy gave her a funny look and later that night I heard them screaming at each other through the walls. Cinco told me to listen so I pressed my ear against my wallpaper which is covered in big red bubble hearts and I heard Mommy saying that there was a boy in Africa who named his and they made friends and Daddy said he didn’t care and that I should go to the doctor because I was sick. I know sick people go to the doctor because once I went when I had a fever of one hundred and three and I was barfing all over my bedsheets. But Cinco said I wasn’t actually sick and I believe it more than I believe Daddy mostly because Cinco is around when Daddy isn’t and Cinco’s voice is louder than Daddy’s and right in my head, whereas Daddy’s voice is more in my ears.
Mommy asked me if Cinco was a boy or a girl and I said I don’t know because its voice doesn’t sound like Mommy or Daddy or Augasantas or Sammy from school. It doesn’t sound soft or hard or mean or nice it just sounds like the wind sometimes when it blows through a tree, only my brain is the tree which makes sense because my teacher Mrs. Marjory says that our brains have a stem. Okay I lied a little just then when I said that Cinco wasn’t mean, because sometimes it is but it doesn’t like if I say that so I try not to say it too often. It’s the truth though and Mommy told me I should always tell the truth. Sometimes Cinco’s voice is more like a storm than a wind and sometimes more like an angry daddy than a storm. Also sometimes Cinco hisses and a screeches like a terrible ghoul I saw in a haunted house at school once that scared me so much I cried and peed in my pants and had to leave halfway through out the side door of the gymnasium.
It’s not like I listen to everything Cinco says but sometimes it talks so much that I just want it to be quiet so I count to five in Spanish and sometimes that helps and it gets really quiet but I’m not sure if I like that better or not because if it’s quiet that means it’s waiting to say something really bad. I try to ignore Cinco when it talks about eyeballs on toothpicks and mouths that are empty of teeth and gums that are bleeding. I try to ignore it when I draw pictures and some of them turn out in the shape of guns that say BANG BANG. Mommy tries to ignore it too. I can see the difference when she’s looking away just naturally or when she’s really trying to look away. She doesn’t put all my pictures on the fridge but I do so Cinco will stop talking about it. I go into the recycling at night and dig out all of my red red pictures and put them up and Cinco smiles in the corner of my eye because it likes all of my art, not just some of my art like Mommy does. I don’t blame Mommy though. Or Daddy. But Cinco does. Cinco says they don’t have my best interests at heart and sometimes I believe it and other times not so much. I can believe it or not though because I am not Cinco and Cinco is not me.
Augasantas says Cinco is an angel but I’m not sure if I believe her because angels are all white and have wings and I’ve never even heard so much as a flap from Cinco. Mommy says not to tell Augasantas’s mommy about Cinco because if I did she might not let me come over for sleepovers so I made Augasantas pinky swear not to tell anyone ever. Cinco says Augasantas broke her pinky swear though and told Sammy from school about it but I don’t believe it because Augasantas is my very best friend in the whole world and best friends don’t break pinky swears.
I’m not best friends with Cinco but I don’t tell it that. Daddy says it’s okay to sometimes act like you’re friends with someone even if you’re not but Mommy says it’s better to actually make friends than pretend so she wants me to get to know Cinco better. When I painted my nails red with Mommy’s lipstick and Cinco said it was blood Mommy told me Cinco was just saying that because we lived in the west and Cinco was influenced by our environment. I didn’t understand what she meant because we have trees and roads and sky in our environment here just like they do in the east but I didn’t say anything about it, I just washed the blood off my nails and it stained the sink red.
Sometimes I ask Cinco questions like where it comes from and why it talks to me but it doesn’t say much and I don’t want to push because if I push sometimes it will just scream so long and loud that it gives me a headache. Mommy told me about that boy in Africa who had a Cinco too but the boy called it Grandma because he thought it was his grandma coming to help him and play with him after she died. I never met any of my grandparents though so I wouldn’t know what they sounded like even if they were Cinco. Mommy says I wasn’t allowed to meet her parents because her daddy was really mean and Daddy’s parents both died in a car crash right before I was born so I guess that makes me a grand-orphan which is a title completely invented by Cinco not me.
Okay but sometimes Cinco and I are friends, not best friends, but friends. Since I gave it a name we sometimes talk and play nicely when Mommy is cleaning or Daddy is out at work and no one is looking. Sometimes Cinco tells me to draw flowers and bumblebees and grass on the ground and blue in the sky. Sometimes it sings me songs that put me to sleep and once in a while, when we are alone, we smile at each other. But Cinco’s smile is more like a feeling than something I see. It’s like a curve in my brain, a sweet red slice. I don’t want it to think we’re not friends though, because we are, I mean we can be, just not best friends like me and Augasantas because a person can only have one best friend at a time otherwise there would be no point in having a best friend because all your friends would be the best and Daddy says when everything’s special nothing is.
Then Daddy stole me and took me to the doctor. Mommy was out at the spa for a day with her sister Nicola, and Daddy put me in the car and did up my seatbelt and his mouth was a thin line and he wouldn’t say anything but I knew where we were going. Cinco was screaming at me that I wasn’t sick and I was screaming at Daddy that I wasn’t sick because I hadn’t even barfed for at least a year and I wasn’t feeling hot on my forehead even a little. But Daddy wouldn’t look at me. He was quiet like Cinco gets before it says something really bad and I couldn’t have that. Cinco said I couldn’t have that too and this time we were both in agreement. So I reached out and grabbed the steering wheel and Daddy’s eyes went wide then narrow and my scream sounded exactly like Cinco’s and then everything went loud and dark.
Cinco woke me up and Mommy was shaking me because she was crying so hard and hugging me and my hair was wet because of her tears. I was sore all over and Cinco told me Mommy was trying to kill me so I tried to push her off but she just kept holding onto me and I felt like I was going to die because everything hurt and I couldn’t breathe. Then I screamed and she let me go and she said sorry a million times and her eyes were red like they were bleeding and Cinco said it was because I had gouged them out and put them on toothpicks and ate them for mid-morning snack. But Cinco was lying because I could see her eyes and they were looking at me like they were scared. Cinco told me Daddy was dead and he died because he tried to take me to the doctor when I wasn’t sick. But Mommy told me Daddy was alive and he was in another room getting better. Cinco told me Mommy was lying and Mommy told me Cinco was lying and I didn’t know who to believe. I told Mommy that Daddy said I was sick and she shook her head like she didn’t know what to say because she didn’t want to say I was sick, but if she didn’t that would be a lie. She told me Cinco wasn’t a grandma or an angel but it was just a rotten bit of my brain stem and it needed medication to fix it. Cinco said no, Mommy said yes. I said I don’t know and Cinco started to scream and bleed all across my vision.
I wanted to believe Augasantas, I wanted Cinco to be an angel so I listened hard for the flapping of white wings but I couldn’t hear anything except Mommy sobbing and Cinco screaming. Let’s count to five together, I said to Cinco, and on five you’ll hush. Uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco. Please stop, Cinco, please stop. I’ll say your name and we can be friends. Best friends even maybe. I promise.
Star Spider is a writer from Canada where she lives with her awesome husband Ben Badger. Star is in the process of seeking publication for her novels. Her work can be found in many places including A cappella Zoo, Maudlin House, Flyleaf Journal, Gone Lawn, Bitterzoet, Apeiron Review, and Klipspringer Magazine. This story was selected by Aaron Counts. Image ©jinterwas via Creative Commons.