5 Replies to “8.7.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. She hears her Da shiftin in his bed, and coughin, and cursin the clock that says it is near time to be up. And her Mam, creepin downstairs, soft in slippered feet, and she stirs small heat into the sleepin fire and sets the kettle to boil, two eggs in the pot, and she cuts bread in thick slices, thick as doorsteps, and she lays the table for his comin down.

    Black as cupboard dark, her Da’s coughin, and jagged as glass when it is broken. And she winces a little, understandin how it must hurt. And then, through the wall, she hears the sound of him risin, his feet dull and heavy on the wooden floor, and the sighin of the bedsprings when he leaves them. And he dresses quick as dancin, and swears against buttons that do not fasten and laces that do not tie, and he does not think to look in the mirror to brush his hair or to mark the tired that he looks.

    Then the quick thunder of his boots on the stairs and she sees, in her head, her Da takin his seat in the kitchen, the srape of the chair’s wooden legs against the stone floor. There are few words passed between her Da and her Mam. It is still too early for words. She hears the silver chink of a teaspoon stirring sugar and sweetness into his first cup and the scraping of a butter-knife against well-fired toast and her Da coughs again.

    And if she holds her breath and stills her heart, she thinks she can hear song, the murmur of song, and it is Elsie in the next bed and though she sleeps there is the sound of music from her lips. Her sister is dreamin of Eddie, and rememberin a kissin-time, and Eddie laughin and bein gentle with her. And he picked her out of all the rest and he gave her a glint-gold ring and so they will one Sunday soon be new man and new wife.

    Eddie is alright, her Da says. ‘Course, he’s a drink in him then and his words come easy. He knows Eddie. He’s a worker in the same pit and not daft with his money. And so Da gives his approval, though at the bottom of his empty glass is a different truth, for once he wanted more for Elsie, more than he has and all his days hard and black and choked. But Elsie has made her choice.

    ‘It’s your bed and once it’s made then you got to lie in.’ That’s the blessin he gives her.

    And so his attention turns to the younger sister, and maybe it can be better for her, at least. And she lies still in her bed, listenin to all the sounds of the breakin day, and she hears her Mam makin gentle fun of her Da for not bein able to tie his laces, and fastenin his shirt top buttons for him if he’ll just keept still, and makin sure he has his piece and his cigarettes, and a kiss to take with him into the pit.

    ‘You see and be safe,’ her Mam says to her Da.

    And in her sleep, Elsie says the same to her dream of Eddie.

    And this is the kind of place where there’s no difference between what is and what is dreamed.

    She waits till he is gone, the sound and spark of her Da’s boots on the road outside shrunk small as no sound. Then she gets up, quiet so as not to wake Elsie, and she spends that time with her Mam, time before school, time in front of the fire, and the light comin up silver and bright, and the kitchen growin warm as an oven, and words bein born, all the good and the shiny words that ever was.

  2. Thank you again Susan. I am glad you liked the piece. Yes, dependable, but also the limited ambition that can sometimes go together with this level of poverty and the circularity of the trap… that’s what I was going for here.

  3. Reading again, I feel that Elsie’s sister senses the circularity of the trap and it keeps her in bed as long as possible, holding on maybe to the hope of breaking away? But like every morning, she hears the same sounds repeated, repeated.

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