5.19.2013 Journal Prompt

Jean Shrimpton, 1960s
Jean Shrimpton, 1960s

May 19, 2013: She walked home in the morning.

8 Replies to “5.19.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. She walked home in the morning. The streets were wet and she had no shoes on; she didn’t seem to notice. We noticed. The whole town noticed. It was Sunday morning and the church bells were ringing and she was just walking home.

    Third Sunday in a row we’d seen her and Emelia dressed in a Saturday party dress and looking like she never went to bed and walking home in her bare feet.

    Bold as brass, our Pa would’ve said. Bold as a Saturday night hooker. Mam would have hushed him to silence and said he was being sinful with his words. Mam and Pa had both passed the year before and the minister and his wife had been a support to us in our time of need.

    ‘Morning Missie.’

    ‘Fuck you,’ she said giving Berne the finger and laughing over her shoulder as she passed.

    No need for that really. Berne didn’t mean nothing by what he said. He was on his way to church and just being friendly. Different if it was Cobb; Cobb sitting on his front porch of a Sunday morning, his hand down the front of his trousers and a leer drawn where his mouth should be, and him saying ‘Morning Missie’ would have meant something different. But Berne was just being decent. He’d have offered her a ride the block and half to her home in his truck if she’d have given him the time of day and only because no one ought be without shoes on a wet Sunday. But Emelia gave him the finger and hurried on.

    Third Sunday in a row and we all saw her without sleep and without her shoes, and her Saturday dress all creased and crumpled; and there were whispers in church when we got there, whispers as to what she’d been about. Martha said she’d seen Emelia go into the Cooper Bar around seven the night before, and Rose said she’d seen her too. She was wearing shoes then and her hair all pinned up and fancy.

    The minister’s sermon that day was from The Gospel of John: ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’. I’d heard it before – he rehearsed his sermons on Sunday evenings to an empty church, except I was late in cleaning the place and I heard him. It was better, I thought, when no one but me was listening and his voice rising up to heaven in a heartfelt plea.

    After the service we all shook the minister’s hand and shook our heads and said few words. He did not wear a smile. Third Sunday in a row and he did not wear a smile and we all of us knew it was on account of Emelia’s missing shoes and her walking home on a Sunday morning and not having slept in her own bed – in their bed.

    He was too old for her, we’d said when he was first to our church. Wasn’t there grey in his hair already and she was just a girl? His first sermon was titled ‘God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform’ and it was if he knew what we were thinking, the whole town. And she was as sweet as any minister’s wife ever was and she hung on his arm and dipped her head when the service was ended.

    And she was a regular visitor to the old and the sick in the community and a breath of fresh air everywhere she went and we came to accept her. Didn’t I say as how she was a real support to me and Mamie when my Mam and Pa passed. Only, now things were not right in the world and the minister, who we loved, was a man in pain, and Emelia was a girl walking home on a Sunday morning in her bare feet and her Saturday night dress, and her hair down.

    We all of us looked up at the sky and expected the sun not to be there. And Cobb could be heard laughing on his porch.

  2. She couldn’t find her underwear.

    It was dark in the apartment—the blinds were pulled down and what daylight there was at this hour was gray and smoggy. A narrow slant of light pushed timidly around a window shade and into the room and she could see the curved shapes of bodies everywhere—on the floor, under the coffee table, beside her on the couch. She knew they weren’t dead; she could hear sighs, a sleepy murmur, a snore, an occasional rustle when someone stirred.

    Her head ached and she felt pain and stiffness down her neck and arching into the space between her shoulder blades. Tentatively, she moved her arm, then one cramped leg, and pulled the knitted afghan more closely around her body noting, lethargically, that she was completely naked under the scratchy wool.

    How did that happen?, she wondered. What was her last memory of the party? She tried to picture herself arriving there: stairs, an open door, people she didn’t know who gave her a drink tasting of sweet, thick pineapple. She could remember the dancing, a slow, sensuous tangle of bodies in dim light, of hands and arms and mouths kissing. And then—nothing. She could remember nothing.

    Cautiously she stood up, began stepping over limp bodies, looking for her clothes. Over there: a flash of silver, the taffeta dress her mother had finished just last week. She moved someone’s bare, hairy leg and pulled on the hem and it slid out from under the sleeping stranger. Holding the rumpled cloth over her breasts, she looked around for her bra and panties, pale blue she remembered, especially bought to go with the dress.


    She stretched up to pull the dress over her head, underwear be damned, and felt the wetness on her inner thigh.

    I’ve been raped, she thought idly. Or perhaps not, perhaps she had willingly agreed. It really didn’t matter in the long run—a prom was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime night. What she needed now was to get out of this place, and quickly, before anyone else awoke.

    She found the door, hurried down the stairs, and began to walk, hoping she was headed in the right direction toward home.

    The sidewalk felt cold and damp beneath her feet.

  3. Sometimes it was like putting a pen to paper and drawing an unbroken line. Nothing more than that. Or like letting a line be drawn, yes that’s it. Like letting a blue inked line spill out from the point of the pen and never knowing where it might run.

    There was a word for that and he knew it. Somewhere in his head it was, just beyond reach. It was a word that meant he wasn’t really responsible for what was written. It meant that he was just the pen and the ink and the paper, and something else was working through him. Yes, ‘conduit’ was the word. That’s what he was, a conduit for the story that was being written.

    It was as much a surprise for him as it was for the reader when Amelie said ‘Fuck you!’ and she was just a girl and so pretty and so well dressed, except she wasn’t wearing shoes. He didn’t know where her shoes had gone, for she’d left the house on the Saturday night and she was wearing shoes then, thin-strapped sling-back heels. Yellow they were, to go with the dress. Someplace on Saturday night she had stepped out of those shoes and never stepped into them again.

    They are just words, all of it. Words that have fallen onto the page. Nothing more than scratches in ink if you hold the page close enough to your face. He hadn’t even decided that she be called Amelie. Or was it Emelia? See, he just didn’t know.

    As for her ‘Fuck you’, that jarred and he thought if he was to write it again he’d maybe change that. Someone so pretty should have prettier words to speak, he thought.

    And her husband, the minister, with grey already in his hair. Maybe that had gone a little too far. Maybe he could be younger and he could still be in pain and all the congregation could still be sorry and not knowing what to do or what to say and they’d hold the minister’s hand after church and be lost for words.

    The bit about ‘God working in mysterious ways his wonders to perform’, that was from an old poem by William Cowper. He didn’t know that was going to appear in the story, or that someone called Cobb was going to end the piece with a laugh. It was just a pen line running all over the paper and if it made any sense in the end, then he could not take credit for it; or if it made no sense, then he’d shrug and say ‘so what’.

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