On Hated Words (an excerpt)
The following is excerpted from the story of a young girl detective, one Clovis Cassidy, who’s primary jurisdiction lies in crimes of neglect. When a classmate goes missing, unnoticed, in a small town where baby food is the major source of employment, Cassidy is on the case. Mysterious and bizarre elements surround the young girl’s disappearance, including a feral family who’s only order of the day appears to be chaos, a patriarch obsessed with all things Shakespearian, and a curious Lazyboy recliner that may well just be the source of the crime. Not your-regular-Bobsi Twin, not you average-Nancy-come lately-Drew, Cassidy is hard on the trail. Nevertheless one must ask, how will Clovis Cassidy, kid detective, get herself out of this pickle?
Precocious. (adj) As in her mother’s thumb, from which she saw it sucked out, greedily. Pulling the marrow of the word between the teeth. You precocious little bitch, she said (after what kind of incident/accident?). Uttered with foreboding and double meaning by her mother, later a schoolteacher, then a relative, or a stranger; used indiscriminately to describe her behavior, her vocabulary, her manner of dress, her intellect at large. As if the simple addition of a C and an O could occupy a word, like a squatter, forging the former residence into a halfway home. Steal between the letters, post-date itself, wipe out its precious (as in valued/as in affected) existence. Webster’s Eleventh called it one thing, though her mother, who–had the natural inclination or ability or skill to graft to any leafy stalk a measure of ugliness–rendered it another way (she would say that she did it to reveal their duplicity, their underlying depravity). From that stalk it grew, a strange bud of three leaves, book-ended on either side by the relevant parts of the word precious, then, outgrowing its pot, it made a desperate crack in the enamel.
Precarious. (adj) An O and a C to an A and a R. As in, when she speaks it, she spells it. Lights up the whole stupid floor of your mouth, her horse-faced sister had accused her. An organization of palate, tongue, molars. A clacking shift in structure that repeats itself (did I repeat myself?, her sister says), haggling over wet space, sliding along side itself to form the word. She would run her mouth, feed the back of her teeth with the tip of her tongue. Constantly sizing up, sussing out, the bit of space, that tiny median that prevented her incisors from severing her own tongue. Collocation (noun): the act or result of placing or arranging together; specifically: a noticeable conjoining of linguistic elements. Impossible to not speak in tongues.
Precipice. (noun) A hazardous situation. As in, the thing stuck out in such a fashion that it appeared to be sutured to her face by a hairline scar, running just under the lip, binding the whole encasement like a sausage, encasing the entire mouth, disabling articulation. Restriction of a small mouth. When she spoke slowly (excavating) she would suck, tooth and nail, bitterly expelling the hated word. When she spoke quickly, all her words struggled up against an impossible doorway, knocking one another about, losing passageway in the tumble. Or, if they did break through they would acquire oblong shapes, rounded parcels of tone, as if the navigation from the tonsil, to the teeth, to the tepid ear, had shorn off their edges. As she walks, she wobbles.
Precast. (adj) A predisposition to a dogged mouth. The unfailing symptom being an overemphasized philtrum that spreads out into a hang-dog expression. Also, as in dental caps. A nocturnal grinding that would lock the jaw and capsize golden fillers. It would wake her when she choked on them, struggling to dislodge the inverse, until she would finally huff it up onto her pillow. The slippery stone means a gold mine; similar to what she imagined the tooth fairy had in store for her. Her mother, in turn, seized the booty and kept it stowed and hidden for all future accidental deaths/disappearances, a predilection for parsing, a knack for carbon dating.
Parsimony. (noun) The quality or state of being stingy. To become miserly with one’s actions/words, a disavowal of language, a sleight of hand, a vow of silence, a preemptive strike. As in her penurious identity, her ever-increasing thrift or frugality of ‘self’.
Precocial. (adj) As in certain ducklings with an almost prenatal set of survival skills, but not necessarily applicable to all birds. Some birds; antonymic to altricial; bow-break like saplings do; chicks hatched helpless and carried away quick by the talons of predators. (Definition of carrion (noun): dead and putrefying flesh; also: flesh unfit for food). Born weak, they skirt responsibility. Others, are supposedly born from the branch, ready to fly. This is not the case with human boys and girls who, born helpless, are severed at the meaningful cord; then, incubated in halogen, hot water and hospital detergent. All human children were supposed to be born with the very same infirmary. So wouldn’t that make a precocious child, in a manner of speaking, an impossibility? And, if yes. Could this impossibility make the very same precocious child disappear completely?
Prelapsarian. (adj) Belonging to or relating to a previous state of innocence. What a ridiculous notion! Having already arrived, one cannot move, with eyes facing forward, back again. As in, chess pieces gliding deftly across the chessboard. As in her sleeping mother, eyelids fluttering, murmuring a desire to be born again.