One Reply to “1.8.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. It’s what I liked about her at first. I thought she must be clever and serious and different from the others. She looked different: her hair scraped back into a ragged plait that tapped at her back as she walked, and her plain skirts neat and straight and down to her knees, and her shoes flat as slippers so that Kirsten stepping was like Kirsten dancing. And she was always reading; and I mean always.

    I saw her once, walking through the busy park. It was a day in summer and girls in scant bikinis lay down on the grass and they let the sun run its hot fingers all over their sticky bodies and they purred like cats. And boys took off their shirts, and they wrestled with their own shadows or turned cartwheels till they were dizzy, and inside their hearts cried ‘look at me, look at me.’ And a dog was barking and a child was crying and a mother was cross in words that were too soft to be really scolding. And Kirsten walked though the park without noticing. She had her nose caught in a book and she was not looking to right or left or even ahead. I thought it must be a very good book to hold her attention so fast.

    Then one day we were side by side in the library and she was reading and so was I. Close enough we were almost touching; close enough I could see the words on her page and she could see the words on mine. And we got to talking in library-whispers, and behind our books we kissed, and we had our buff coloured library tickets stamped for love.

    We moved in together and sometimes Kirsten’d read things out to me from the book she was reading – on the bus, even when it was crowded and everyone listening; or in our bed, after sex, and that was just for me; or standing in the door of the toilet when I was peeing. And I read stuff to her, too. Reading was never so loud before, or so breathless with wonder, or so shared.

    I don’t really know when all that changed, when we retreated back into page-turning silence, and reading was a lonesome private thing once again. I don’t know if she noticed or if she missed the words cut from the page and hung in the air to be marveled over. I did. Kirsten read everything, without discrimination or discernment. She read things I never would, and she always found some jewel hidden inside, some small poetry or a finely turned phrase or a piece of high sentiment. Maybe she lost interest in the things that I read.

    Then, towards the end, we both made an effort to go back to the start – easy enough with books. ‘Listen to this,’ she said, and she cleared her throat and she sat a little straighter and she began reading. I smiled and nodded, but I think she knew. And I did the same, and I read to her through the locked door of the bathroom, using my best voice, and I could hear her brushing her teeth and washing her face. She came out looking prickly and as though I had intruded.

    I still see her some days. From a greater distance. I see her taking the 23 bus into town, or eating her sandwich lunch in the park with a dog asleep at her feet, or queuing for the Saturday butcher, the one up on Market Street and his pies have won awards – and always Kirsten has her nose in a book. I smile then, fondly remembering how it had once been between us, and missing the sound of her voice when she read; but I never do call her from her book, not wanting to know these days what she is reading, happier instead to think it might be something good.

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