Sunday, December 27, 2009

Biographical Sketches... Helen Keller

I've decided to try a few short biography sketches of real people that I admire. Just an attempt to get into their heads. To try on that character, and that voice. My first one is Helen Keller. The first chapter book I ever read was one on Helen Keller, and to this day, she remains one of my favorite people. I've chosen to do a sketch on the day she met Ann Sullivan in March 1887. Helen was 7 years old, and had been blind and deaf for just over 5 years...

It was spring.

Sitting on the front porch, resting her hand on the smooth wood pillar, Helen took in a deep, hungry breath. She could tell it was spring. There were so many new smells--some of them strong, and assaulting. Some of them she had to really concentrate on. And there were smells missing; she couldn't smell as much smoke from the fires as before. The air was warm, and there was a spice to it.

Groping down off the porch, she felt towards the leaves of a bush, and then sunk down on the ground next to it. Helen dug her fingers into the dirt, and smelled the wet earth. Rubbing her fingers together, she felt the clay crumble. She dug some more, and then her finger bumped something... cool and wet. Carefully, with one finger she stroked the creature and felt it recoil and squirm. With two fingers, she lifted it up and put it on her hand. She felt it move. Then she laid it back into the dirt, careful not to smash it. She wondered what it would feel like, to be down in the dirt, where it was cool.

Scootching backward on her rear end until she felt the grass, she lay down. The grass was stiff and prickly. Not soft. It scratched through her tights. She lifted her legs off the grass and held them for as long as she could. She brought them down to the ground, hard, and was startled to feel something big and furry under them that darted away. She laughed. It must be the cat. She got up on all fours and crawled slowly toward to house, searching with her hands for the cat.

She knew that the cat hated her. It ran from her, and she had to find it. Sometimes, when she caught it, she would tug at it's fur. It would scratch at her. Then her mother would try to take the cat away. But she wouldn't let her. The cat was hers.

Suddenly, she felt soft vibrations through the ground and sat back on her heels. Someone tapped roughly on her shoulder. Martha. Only Martha would poke her like that. She made a sign to Martha that meant "WHAT?" and Martha replied by pulling on one of her hands. That meant she was to come inside. She signed again "WHAT?" and Martha rubbed her face. She needed to get clean. Her mother was always wanting her to get clean. To meet new people.

She sighed and got up, allowing Martha to lead her inside the house. She dragged her feet whistfully, and took another deep breath. But it was such a beautiful day.


dave said...

A beautiful day as I have never had to experience it. Good job.

Eve said...

enthralling... love the idea and of course, love your writing!