11.21.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by Robert Frank
Photo by Robert Frank

November 21, 2013: Making things clean.

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One thought on “11.21.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    Saturday nights and our Thomas was all smiles and laughin. He had only soft words in his mouth then and he said as how mam was just beautiful and he gave us littluns pennies for sweeties. Every Saturday for years it seemed. And we could ask Thomas for anythin then and if we worded it right he never said us no.

    Saturday nights was special, see. Saturday nights was on-the-town nights for our Thomas and mam said he was winchin and that’s why he was daft in the head then, and she said it with a softness in her words too, like she was rememberin somethin that was missed.

    And Thomas pulled the tin bath into the big room and he filled it, near enough, with hot water from pots and the black kettle, and he knelt beside the bath and seemed to be prayin or duckin for apples. And the room smelled of coal tar soap and he scrubbed up clean as a new penny. And mam read the newspaper so as not to see Thomas indecent, the paper up to her face so there was no peekin.

    Our da was in his chair by the radio and he was smokin cigarettes he’d rolled hisself and he said as Thomas could borrow his best tie if he looked after it and there was clean socks in his drawer. Thomas’ shoes polished so glassy bright you could see your face in ‘em and his suit pressed with creases sharp as knives. And our Lindy, six years old and her hair in crooked pigtails, and she asked what was winchin.

    The whole place laughin then and Thomas said she’d know soon enough when boys was knockin at the door and askin for to take Lindy dancin. And so I thought that was what winchin was. And drinkin maybe, cos Thomas came home smellin of cigarettes and beer in the sleepin dark hours of Sunday, and he was not steady in his legs so that he barged into walls, and he slept in his suit trousers cos he couldn’t take ‘em off without fallin. And sometimes there was another smell in Thomas’ smell.

    Our mam had a small bottle of water that was the colour of weak pee. The bottle sat in the cabinet in the front room and if you unscrewed the cap, the smell was of roses. Like you was up at grandpa’s allotment, if you closed your eyes. Like you was standin under the arch of roses he had made and breathin in the smell. And one night Thomas came home and that smell was on him and there was a smudge of pink on his collar and on his cheek and in his sleep he was grinnin. And when he woke he was grinnin the same. Like the cat what’s got the cream, our mam said. And he’d been dancin with a girl called Milly, and da said Thomas’d been dancin to no music, if we got his meanin.

    Next door lived a boy who was simple in the head. Mam whipped us sore if ever we was found laughin at him. No one can help bein simple, is what mam said. It was the way he was born and it was his cross to bear and the cross his family had to bear too. And the boy’s name was Petey and he danced to no music some days, out back where the sheets was hangin to dry, white as clouds and billowin. And Pete twistin and swayin and his eyes rollin in his head.

    And here was our da sayin that Thomas had been dancin to no music. So our Lindy whispered to our mam, and she was all serious and her face pinched with worry. And she asked mam if Thomas was simple now too, like Petey, on account of his daft dancin. And everybody laughed and I laughed too even though I did not really know what it was I was laughin at.

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