Posted on February 14, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair2.14.2014 Journal Prompt Image from Blue Valentine February 14, 2014: It started like this. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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When she tells the story, as she does when she has had a drink and it is late and all her words are soft or singing, when Margret tells the story of what we are, it starts with a kiss on the Playfair steps. It is summer and night and so quiet that she can hear her own heart beating and her breath coming in gasps. The stone under her feet is worn to ripples and she speculates on all those others who had been there before us. She says the moon was out, but that is just a fancy that she has added in the retelling and which she has told so often now that she believes it must be true. And I hung her name on the streetlight air and we kissed and that’s where the story begins for her.
But there are other beginnings and choosing to start with a kiss on the Playfair steps is just arbitrary. That is not to say that I do not enjoy the story and the way that she tells it, or even that I don’t believe it for the time she is telling everyone. But it is a story when all is said and done and stories are never the whole truth.
She is nineteen in the story, and laughing, and her words coming out in a rush, like milk that is tipped from a jug by a too eager child or a child still half asleep and not knowing what she does. I don’t really recognize her in the story. There are pictures of Margret before that night and pictures of her after, but nothing of that kiss so she can say what she likes and she knows that I will not spoil the story with dispute.
And so it began for her with a kiss. That kiss. And I nod and our guests at the table nod, too, and they say it should be in a book or a film, and we drink some wine and we speculate then on who would play Margret and who would play me. But it did not start the way she tells it.
It started before I knew her name. It started with a kiss, or a hundred kisses, but it did not start with that kiss. It started in the day. I saw her first standing in a queue at the library. She held her books clasped to her chest, as though she had a secret hidden there, and that secret was heart-shaped and heart-placed. If I was telling this at a dinner party, she’d be beautiful and she’d stop me in my tracks. But it wasn’t like that. It was the cover of a book she was holding that caught my eye.
If I tell the story again, it starts before then. It starts with the book and a scrap of something I had written and tucked into the pages of that book, and put back on the library shelf, like a message in a bottle. And I do not know if she found my note or what she thought of it if she did.
And telling it again, to myself, it starts in a different place and time. It starts in a room looking out over the city. A room that is empty except for an unmade bed, and a different girl has just left the bed and she has dressed in the near-dark and left without saying anything. I do not know her name, not because I have forgotten it, but just because I never had it. A whole night of kisses and touching, and talking about who we were, and we did not have names. And it was for that un-named girl that I wrote the note and slipped it between the covers of that book.
And there’s a beginning; and maybe an ending, too, and so I tell this story to only myself, and I look for that lost and nameless girl still, and wish for her story though we are older now and different.