Becoming Helen

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan

Becoming Helen
by Stella Klein

This is my somewhere. These are my spaces and surfaces, luring me endlessly about.

With this hunger in the middle of me, here is where I come to sniff and drool, to shovel, chomp and swallow. And here ā€“ there-there ā€“ are the somebodies that I love and know by their warmth and scent, by the quiver and heft of their touch upon mine. Here is where I collapse when I am tired, disappearing into jumble-dreams and nothingness.

Now, out of nowhere I have another somebody: wiry and strong. I did not ask for this. Curbed, confined, I bite and kick and I am hot, demented in her grip.
Though sometimes, lately, insistent in her touch, my somebody-other comes to still me in her folds, tap-tapping with her game of lines and dots. And sometimes, tapping back, I feel her urgent pleasure more than mine.
Today, she leads me from my lonely, humming nowhere. Out into the lapping, dappled balm and rotten sweetness that I love, to this cool gush where I sometimes stumble-go to quench my thirst.
Merry inside as I splash and drink, she taps, now tugs at my icy fumbler, pressing it to her swallowing place and then to mine. And there, in the shape of her vibration, comes

the sudden unspooling,

rogue unraveling,

a single thread of marvelous recollection.

Waaaa-daaaa.

From here to there, I stagger-gasp, and back again to tap and jab, knowing at last the meaning of her game: that this is Water, and this is Pump, that she is Anne, my Teacher. These Hands, these Lips, this Wind that blows, this Handle that turns and Cup that pours, these things they all have names. I know now that this special somebody who I run to, pillowy and sweet is Mother, that here beside her is Father, whiskery and square. That with these names and somebodies, I will join and shape my Everywhere.


Stella is a London based dyslexia tutor and writing coach. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in print and online in anthologies including The Mechanics Institute Review 13, The Blue Nib, The Southbank Review, and 101 Stories. Her winning piece, ‘Baristas’, was part of Spread The Word’s 2018 City of Stories collection.

Photograph courtesy of the US Library of Congress.