10.12.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by James Jowers
Photo by James Jowers

October 12, 2013: She got it at a good price.

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One thought on “10.12.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    If you asked her, she’d tell you she got them at a good price and she got them at Miller’s Market and they know her there and her name’s Milly Cartwright. That’s what she’d tell you and she’d hold up the small parcel as proof of what she said and she’d show you where Bernie Miller, the son, had written her name in blue pen.

    It is a parcel of fish heads, maybe five or seven, depending on how many had asked for the heads to be removed. Ladies mostly, and they were squeamish and they said that seeing the eyes staring up at them and they couldn’t bear it. And then when they were cooked and the milky cataracts of the dead fish, well then they couldn’t eat what was on their plates. So they asked Bernie Miller Senior if he wouldn’t mind and could he please and if it was no trouble to remove the heads.

    Once, as many as nine, and he kept them in a small basin of ice and he knew Milly Cartwright would be by before the shop closed and it gave him some pleasure to nod her yes and to wrap up the fish heads he had and to make a gift of them to her. And he asked the boy to write her name on the parcel, not for any other reason than he liked to see her name written down.

    Once, she was pretty and gay, and she turned men’s heads when she walked down the street. It’s hard to believe now, but it’s true. And Bernie Miller Senior had a thing for her then and they’d walked out together for almost a year and dancing some Saturdays and kisses in the park and more than kisses one night. Now, all that’s just a memory that they share and he winks at her and he calls her darling and he hands over a parcel of fish heads at the end of each day and her name written on the paper.

    And Milly Cartwright shows you, if you ask; and sometimes even if you don’t ask, and she says that Bernie Miller is a nice man and she got them at a good price, by which she means that he never charges her for those heads of fish, and she winks and briefly looks pretty and not old. Then she clutches the parcel to her and hunches her back and hurries off.

    She boils up the fish and makes a thick soup that smells of the sea and that smell hangs on the neighbourhood air so we all can smell it; and she sings when she’s cooking and she dances across the small space of her kitchen floor and she imagines that she is dancing with someone. And in the morning, when the fish-head soup is cool, she spoons it into small bowls that she sets out on the stone-paved back garden and all the cats in the neighbourhood come to feed. And she has names for them all and she tells them her name is Milly Cartwright and they rub themselves against her legs and purr with pleasure and these days it is enough.

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