The river ran deeper where it turned sharply. That’s where the eels lived. I could sit on the bank on the opposite side and wait for them to come out of their holes. They were dark and fast little snakes. If I moved, they’d hide right away, so I had to be still for quite awhile to see them. I didn’t like them much, but others did, to eat I mean. The people across the street caught some and ate them. They kept moving on the plate after they were dead. They thought that was funny. I almost threw up at the thought of eating something that wriggled in my mouth, then in my stomach. People do some strange things.
Sometimes, when the river was raging, I didn’t see them at all. I wasn’t supposed to go near the river then, but I crept down there when everyone was busy with their busy things. After it calmed down their places looked different, I think the water pushed stuff into their houses, and took stuff away from their houses. I think they got a new house with every storm. I wish we would get a new house with any storm. This is the meanest, darkest place. It was painted white, but it was still the meanest and darkest house in the world.
For one thing, it didn’t have a front garden. The other houses on the street did. Or a back flower garden either, like the lady across the river. The back of her house was full of flowers and sunshine. Completely the opposite of this house, and it was next door! But the river separates us into darkness and lightness. My father planted his favorite flower in the darkness between the shed and the door we went into. It was just a dark door above one step after a small uneven footpath. They were pretty little things, but not bright and happy like the ones next door. He planted other things we could eat on the other side of the house in the sunshine, far away from the river. Maybe that kept him happier, tending the vegetables in the sun.
The worst thing about this dark house was the bridge. We had to cross the bridge to get to the house. It started from the street gate next to the mailbox, then swung across the river to the gate leading to the side door. Two gates, a bridge and a river to cross every time you came home. The small wooden boards were tied together on the bottom, and you could see the river between them. The ropes and boards moved with every step. If big people walked on it at the same time, it would swing more, and move up and down too. I thought I was riding an angry eel every time we crossed it.
It was this river that stole my voice, but it was this dark, dismal, house that tried to steal my life.