11.15.2013 Journal Prompt

Image from La Collectionneuse
Image from La Collectionneuse

November 15, 2013: He liked her face.

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One thought on “11.15.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    Keith collects things. Stamps when he was a boy, or cards that came free with packs of pink gum or tucked inside the wrappers on tea. And he kept them clean and flat and folded into the pages of books, or held together by soft string and placed in tins that smelled faintly of toffee. Then, when he was older and he’d left childish things behind, he collected art vases and fine glass and pictures of old film stars.

    Things of beauty, Keith said. And those vases never again held flowers and those glasses never again held wine. And the pictures were things that were nearer to paintings, for the studios had airbrushed every blemish from the faces of those stars so that they were porcelain-perfect and beautiful.

    ‘Do you see?’ he said. ‘Perfect.’

    There were things Keith didn’t like about Jemma. Her name to start with. That was another thing about old film stars; their names were something polished by studio bosses who understood the need for all things to be starburst and silver and right. And so Keith sometimes called Jemma by a different name. He called her Vivien or Jacqueline or Jayne.

    And her voice he didn’t like either. It was something cracked and needing oiled, like the door-hinge squeak of an old house. And he put a finger across his lips sometimes and he made the noise of the soft sea sighing and he bade her be more quite when she was near him.

    And there were a hundred little things about her that irritated him every day and Keith was always straightening her collar and fussing with her hair, and suggesting that she change her clothes or brush her teeth, or that she turn her head a little more to the light and not to breathe, not quite yet, but just to hold her head still for a moment so that he could see.

    For it was her face that he liked.

    There was something about her face. It was there in the photographs he took of her, a hundred pictures a day, and he pinned those pictures up all over the house, and she laughed and said she did not see what he saw. And he stared at her when she slept, adjusting the bedside lamp to better highlight the smooth rise of her cheekbones or the soft sleeping pout of her lips, and he took more pictures then; and Vivien or Jacqueline or Jayne said that was all daft and was really a bit odd. And he stopped what he was doing sometimes and he just looked at her in silence and in awe.

    Before Jemma, there was Anna, and before her there was Jules, and all of them were pretty and he took their pictures, too. He has a locked box in the attic that holds all those pictures, and it is like stamps when he was a boy, or cards given away with tea, and it is something he collects.

    And he keeps the girls around until he grows out of them, or until the cap left off the toothpaste can no more be tolerated, or the cups unwashed and waiting by the kitchen sink are just too much to bear, or till their singing out of tune and not singing the right words is too great an imperfection. Then he lets them go and looks for someone else to collect.

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