10.25.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by William Albert Allard
Photo by William Albert Allard

October 25, 2013: She held on.

5 Replies to “10.25.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. She lives alone. Mia Ortelli’s life is ordered and neat and regular. She rises at six and she washes her clothes and the tea towels and the dish cloths and she hangs them out on her small balcony and a sheet over the top so the dust from the street will not mark them as they dry. And she makes strong coffee and dark as night or black as the stare of birds; and she eats a breakfast of sweet currant loaf and pared and sliced apples or pears. Mia washes then, and dresses, and she leaves for her work a little before eight, locking the three locks of her front door behind her.

    Work is an office on Caminito street – the street of many colours where tourists clicking their cameras is a constant chatter like birds, and the colours of the buildings are like carnival everyday, and street performers make tango shapes to slow staccato music and Mia does not stop to look. Mia sits opposite Delfina and they type letters for a Senor Alberto Lopez who smells of onions and he always stands too close to Mia when he talks to her, close enough they touch and Mia recoils a little. And the office is hot and the air thick and dry, and music leaks from a small transistor radio that sits on a shelf above Mia’s desk.

    Lunch is at 12.15 and Mia sits in a wicker chair by the open window and she sits where she cannot be seen by the people on the busy street below and she opens the neck of her blouse and fans herself with an out of date copy of Diarios de Mendoza. And she eats sandwiches she has made in the English style and cut into small sharp triangles. And she drinks water from a plastic cup.

    She finishes work at five and goes straight home, stopping only to buy fish on a Friday, or eggs, or small cuts of pork on other days, or vegetables in brown paper bags, or soap smelling of roses. And once home she takes in her dry clothes and presses the creases from them and she puts them away, neatly folded or draped over coathangers. And she throws open all the windows in her apartment and she lets in the smell of others’ cooking and the sound of Maria playing her violin and Maria was ironing out the creases in her playing and they were fewer and fewer each day and her playing closer to music these days. And Mia ticks the days off on her calendar and she calculates the time left before Wednesday at six, for then everything is different.

    Wednesday at six Mia has a dance class in the hall at Verbum’s Spanish School. They play old recordings of Carlos Gardel and Mia dances with Bautista Godenzi and it is not love that she feels, but she feels something. Like she is not herself exactly; like she is part of the music and part of Bautista and part of something bigger.

    And Bautista makes the mistake of thinking it is love, for there are women enough on other nights and they come just to dance with him, and they press themselves against him, rubbing like cats do and purring the same, and they drip breathless whispers into his ear, their rude thoughts given shape in the words they dare to speak, and sometimes he takes them to a dark space in the school, out of reach of the music, and he gives them what they want and they tip him well.

    But with Mia it is different. With Mia he thinks it might be love and they dance together the whole evening and they are in perfect step and they are as one and he holds onto her and she holds onto him. And Bautista thinks he loves Mia and maybe she loves him; Mia knows she does not.

    1. Love the piles and piles of detail which accumulate through this piece–the laundry, the lunch. Not quite sure, however, what the ‘something bigger’ is that Mia feels a part of–I didn’t get a sense of that. But beautifully written. Thanks for this.

      1. Thanks for this, Judith. Glad you liked something in this. The ‘something bigger’ was maybe something to do with the dance and the tradition and the not being fake like the dancers for the tourists who make ‘tango shapes’. Being part of the music and carried away on it… something more lasting than love or a quick fuck with Bautista at the back of the school. That’s what I was going for…

        I shall go now and read yours. Thanks.

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