1.20.2014 Journal Prompt

Source: aurorasvoice.org
Source: aurorasvoice.org

January 20, 2014: He was a patient man.

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One thought on “1.20.2014 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    He’s a patient man, our pa. He’s had to be. And understanding, all his words soft and considered so that he seems always to speak sense, more sense than any man I ever knew.

    He tells us stories, too, of how the world was before we were ever in it, the hard it had been sometimes when he was a boy, and not enough on his plate to feed a mouse. And the window of his room etched in frost on the inside, and he dressed for school or work without leaving his bed, sleeping in his shirt and hiding the daylight crumples and creases under a long-sleeved woolen pullover.

    Then, one black and white day he met our mam and the stars fell out of the sky and the moon tilted its head and winked and smiled. He found out where she lived and he knocked at her door, flowers clutched in one hand and hope held tight in the other. Our pa with flowers! And we believed in the falling stars and the nudge-nudge, wink wink moon. But flowers! We knew they were stories that he added to with each telling and a little further from truth when we heard them again.

    And he said our mam was a girl once and she was as thin as sticks or broom handles, and pretty as a box full of kittens, and they went dancing at a place called The Palace Ballroom. There’s a new supermarket standing where the Palace once stood. Our pa showed us and he waved his arms in the air conjuring the dance hall to appear before our very eyes, the stone pillars and the steps and neon lights making the darkness small. And he was singing, words to songs we thought we knew, and his feet tapping or twitching into dance steps, and his arms out before him as if he was holding a girl too thin to really be our mam.

    He knew right from the start. That’s what he says. He just knew, even if she didn’t. She was sixteen and he was, too, and he thought his heart might break. She said they should take it slow and not be in so much of a hurry. And that’s when he tells us he’s a patient man.

    Each day was a year, he says, and his every waking thought was our mam. He wrote her letters on the unwinding ribbons of till receipts from the shop where he worked, and he was silly and soft, and careless and careful both at the same time. And by degrees our mam was won.

    They kissed one day and it was in the park and a band was playing, all brassy and blown. He showed us once where the band was, an old Victorian stand, all wrought iron flowers and a grey slate roof – silent now and bare. But back then, a heart-thumping band, there as soundtrack to that first kiss and the whole world spinning around them, breathless and giddy.

    A hundred days and every day felt as long as a year and our pa kept asking our mam and she laughed and she said he must be patient – as a saint or a stone soldier. She bought him a sculpted bronze hare caught in mid-leap and she said he must be like that hare: not in any hurry but waiting, patiently.

    And he’d be waiting still, just as that bronze hare, sitting now at our front window, waits, all its muscles straining and stretching, but ever patient and still. I close my eyes sometimes and I see it running and leaping into tomorrow and tomorrow, but when I open my eyes again it is always just waiting. And our pa would be waiting still, only things changed and our mam was cow-heavy and our Thomas was impatient to be in the world.

    They were married in haste and a roof over their heads and Thomas cried for a whole year, day and night. Mam cried, too. Our da talked in whispers and he sang the words to dance songs and he walked for miles and miles in our front room, cradling Thomas, carrying him through a year of tears. Patient as a saint or a soldier cut from stone. Then it was suddenly quiet in the house; a whole year of silence till not even the rattle in Thomas’ breath could be heard – impatient to be in the world and just as impatient to be out of it again.

    And we came soon after, me and Julianne, and our mam watching us close as hawks, expecting that we might be gone soon, too. Our mam loved us enough for two mams and I do not think there was any love left over for our pa. Been like that for years. And if you ask him he’ll tell you he’s a patient man, and I think he waits for love to return, all star-fall and moon-wink. And the hare on the windowsill leaps through the air and goes nowhere fast, and that’s just like our pa.

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