He played guitar. In a small string band. On street corners with his panama straw hat upturned on the ground before them hoping to collect small monies from those passing on Catfish Street. I kept my window open all summer, the smell of the river drifting in on the air, and my ears sharp for the sound of them, the sound of him.
From where I was I could watch the band without being seen. I could dance to the music that they played, my feet skipping lightly across the wood floor and my whole body swaying. Like trees sway in a warming wind and taken this way and that by no will of their own. From where I was I could watch him and only watching him I could imagine that he was the perfect one.
He had no name that I knew and no character and no flaws. None that was known to me, and so he could be anyone. He could be Ted or Tom or Terence. And he was a schoolteacher by day, in my head he was, and he taught kids with special needs and he had the patience of a saint and a warm heart. And there was this one kid and she stayed back after class just so she’d be noticed, just so he’d say her name and smile. And he did. And it was enough.
And Terence was the singer in the band and the songs that he sang set the feet to tapping if you were old and dancing if young. And people laughed and talked and touched each other’s hands without recoiling. And I watched the difference he made on Catfish Street and how he nodded at everyone as if he knew them and he smiled, like he did to the girl who stayed back after class.
And I imagined then that I was the girl and it was my name that was in his mouth and I laughed when he said it and he laughed too and the whole world laughing then. And he said it again only it was like singing this time and the band playing and I couldn’t help it, couldn’t help dancing there in the classroom, dancing for him, as birds of paradise dance to catch the attention of a mate.
And the days were long and the sun slow in going down and it became a regular thing, the string band on the corner of Catfish Street and a crowd gathered and clapping and singing along and a summer to measure all summers by. And Terence saying my name in a song and me dancing for him till the music stopped, dancing breathless in my room with the window open and the smell of the river hung on the air.
But all of that in my head, except the music and the singing and me dancing where I could not be seen, dancing in the front room of my ten dollar flat and the dog looking at me funny and Terence smiling at all the girls in the street and small monies dropped into his hat. Enough for a drink afterwards and bread and a plate of gumbo. And he blows the girls kisses and I see that, he does not blow me one, not ever.
→Another delightful journal prompt response from Lindsay. You’ll find her work all over this site. I am thrilled she shares it with us. If you feel so inspired by a journal prompt and would like to share it with the readers here, please submit via the comments section. And as always, thanks for reading! -PMc←