6 Replies to “12.15.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. Martha had nothing. Not at the start. Not when Ramos shut the door against her and he shut it hard. Nothing more than the clothes she wore and shoes that had seen better days and Martha’s purse in the pocket of her dress with the money she’d been saving for nearly three months without him noticing the cheaper cuts of beef on his plate.

    She thought, on that first night, that she’d take a room at the Five and Seven motel, but when she saw the prices she decided that was too big a part of the money she had put by. So, she walked the streets, torn strips of newspaper tucked into the toes of her shoes and her steps light as dancing. And she bought a cup of joe in the Belle De Jour diner and took her time drinking it because it was warm in there.

    Next day and the day after, the girls at work never said anything, even though Martha was wearing the same clothes as the day and days before and there were shadows under eyes and she fell asleep at her desk before lunch. Maybe they didn’t know and she was not to be the one to tell them.

    On the third night it rained and a guy at the park told her about the empty factory. He said it was up for let and always had been and there was a door that they left open and some nights he slept there when his space at the back of the all-night Laundromat was taken. It was just a hall then, and the air was all chill and it smelled of grease and stale sweat and cigarettes.

    It became a regular thing after that and she moved in the frame of a bed she found put out to the trash, and a basin that she could wash in, and an armchair that had broken legs and sat close to the ground. Then some lights, and a fridge that was really a cupboard and she cleaned it up, good as new to look at.. And weekends she wandered the town, collecting the things that others threw away: a carpet for the bed space and a broken tv for the sitting room and bricks that she carried two at a time all the way from the space at the back of Brewster’s Yard.

    Soon enough it was home what she had and her brother mixed cement and they built a separate room inside the great hall and there she could undress and wash properly and she shaved under her arms and painted her toe-nails. She hung her clothes on a metal rail and new shoes kept in their boxes and wrapped in pink tissue and a glassy shine to them before she put them away; shoes were special and her mother had told Martha once that you could never walk in another girl’s shoes because as soon as you wore shoes they shaped themselves to your feet and so they would never afterwards be a good fit for anyone else – so shoes Martha bought new.

    And no one ever found out – not unless you counted the street guys who sometimes stayed over on nights when it was so cold that the air bit the tips of their fingers and their chests were tight with coughing and they needed looked after for just one night or maybe two. And they called it Martha’s place and it was home then – to them and to Martha.

    She hung pictures on the walls and arranged ornaments on the sill of a window, and she found songs in her mouth one morning and Ramos was never in her thoughts. And, whenever she looked in the shard of mirror, she discovered she was smiling more than she ever had before.

    And there was this one guy, and his name was Stevie and it wasn’t his fault he had nothing. And Stevie brought her small gifts of stars he made from the flattened and bent and cut cans of Pepsi or Coke, and Martha hung those tin stars everywhere. And Stevie said she was pretty as a princess, and he was never more forward than that. And if you asked her, Martha would say was who put songs in her mouth.

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