I sit on the floor. I stand. I sit and press rewind. I press play. I stand. I hear mom makes noise behind my voice. I sit. I press rewind. I press record and play at the same time while the tape rewinds. I pick up the penny. I speak. Today we are with Mr. Lincoln talking about a penny, and how useless a penny is. Mr. Lincoln, do you hate yourself for being the penny? "Yes, actually, well, actually, yes. It rather angers me, it does, and I won't stand for it." I sit. I press stop. I press rewind. I press play. Crackling and my voice saying penny sounds funny. Mr. Lincoln speaks on his behalf. I stand as he speaks. I look down at the small hole that says MIC—such a small hole to speak through, must be what makes my voice sound funny. The play button sticks when I press stop, I press eject and the play button pops up as the tape pops out. I look inside. Rubber wheels, small, square smooth metal parts and black thin rubber bands make the tape say my voice. I stand and walk to the shelf where my rocks lay about as I placed them earlier. My finger feels the large one from Ireland. My finger feels that crystal where water once ran over. Jagged edges make lines on my finger: little white lines of cut skin. I look to another shelf. Baseball cards set as an exhibit piece. I look up to a miner's helmet with a lamp, then back to the shelf with rocks, then to the window near the shelf, then to my bed with chipped paint, metal and springs underneath, a cot, dad calls it. I walk back to the cassette player. I sit. I've forgotten the tape. It sits on the shelf next to small rocks from the corner of the backyard. That's near where Peter the Great shits. Dad named Peter the Great Peter the Great because when he and mom were in the USSR he learned a lot about the Great innovator, Peter The Great. I like Pete because he eats the food from under the table, and howls when I strum the harpsichord. It's out of tune. I stand and move toward the tape. My old socks slide the wood floor. I grab the tape, light in my hand. Today I will finish the conversation with Mr. Lincoln. I walk to the cassette player. I sit. I place the tape in the player. The tape smoothly and softly falls into the shutting door. I push the door shut. I press rewind. I scratch my knee, waiting. I press play—my voice with crackling hiss and sounds from outside the window: a car, a horn. I press stop. I press rewind. The cassette player makes a whining noise. Then it stops itself because I hesitated with the whining. I press play. I hear more tape before, before my voice. Then my voice happens. I press stop. I rewind shortly. I press stop. I take a deep breath. I press play and record at the same time. I hesitate again, but for a different thing. I think back to hesitation before, what for? The tape made a noise. I speak. Today we are with Mr. Lincoln talking about a penny, and how useless a penny is. Mr. Lincoln, you hate yourself for being the penny. "Yes, actually, well, actually, yes. It rather angers me, it does, and I won't stand for it." I smile when I press stop. I know that I've recorded just my voice, no other thing. I press rewind. I press stop, but too early. I press play and I hear Mr. Lincoln talking about a penny, a . . . I press stop. I press rewind. The buttons are a little wobbly under my touch. I look at the window across the room. I dramatically decide that I should walk to the window before hearing what I've done. I stand. I walk to the window. I smell the air from the street. I smell the tree. I smell the van. Dad says it smells funny because it's more efficient. I look at the park. They swing high and pump their legs. I don't like them. I play fair, they don't. I walk to the shelf. I look at the rocks. I drag my finger across the crystal again, this time with my palm. It tickles. I turn to the cassette recorder. It's small and red, a present from dad for Christmas. It plays my Beatles tapes. I only listen to the Beatles. My brothers listen to fast loud music. They like fast words, fast music that sounds loud and edged. They won't let me listen, but I hear through the wall. I listen to the Beatles. Their tapes are on the third shelf that I stand on tiptoe to arrange. I spend my allowance on the tapes. I have most. They have good pictures of the Beatles. I turn around to look at the tapes on the shelf. They, some of them, stand upright; the ones I think are better than the rest. I turn back to the cassette player. I want to hear my voice. I walk to the cassette player. I sit. I press play. I hear my voice. I hear Mr. Lincoln's voice. I stop the tape. I know I'm done. I hear mom walk to the door. I'm angry when people open my door: I frown. I don't want them to see me. I know they hear me, but I don't want them to see me. I stand and walk to sit at my desk and open a drawer so that she will leave when she sees me sitting at my desk. The door opens, the window breathes. 'Revolver' falls over. She wants me to wash my hands for supper. I will. She closes the door. I hate her just then. I stand and walk quickly to my cassette player. I sit. I press rewind. I press stop. I press play. Today we are with Mr. Lincoln talking about a penny, and how useless a penny is. Mr. Lincoln, you hate yourself for being the penny. "Yes, actually, well, actually, yes. It rather angers me, it does, and I won't stand for it." The tape hisses a bit. And you won't stand for it. You're a penny.
Copyright©2007 C. Robin Madigan