3.20.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by Vivian Maier
Photo by Vivian Maier

March 20, 2014: They’d been traveling for days.

6 Replies to “3.20.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. A ticket to nowhere, she said. A ticket to anywhere. Far off, she said. As far off as we can go. She didn’t want to know where – she said she didn’t. That wasn’t important. Just so long as we were going somewhere. But I knew different.

    Heavy as barrels or sacks that are filled with potatoes. And slow as creeping when she walks. I see the pain that is in each careful step that she takes and she does not take many. She leans on a stick, using it as a third leg, but it makes nothing easier. Years of watching the clock wind down and the handclap of time becoming irregular and ‘Am I there, yet?’ she says.

    And it is time. Close to it. She knows without asking and I know, too. And she says there are still things she wants to see. Up close and in the flesh. Places she wants to go to. I don’t know how to answer her then. She breathes deep and lets that breath out slow. She straightens, as much as crooked can, and she shrugs and smiles and leans a little more on my arm. ‘Just one more journey then,’ she says. So we have a ticket to nowhere, except it is somewhere, too, for we are travelling to the town where it all began, and I think she knows that.

    We sit looking out of the window and everything is a blur and trees have lost their leaves and stand black and still, and cows have abandoned the fields, and the sun sits lower in the sky so the light is thin and weak. She sleeps sometimes, falls in and out of dreaming, and I can feel her hot slow breath on my cheek and a hand she has laid gentle on my chest, like she is keeping track of my heart beating, though in truth it is the other way around. I touch her leg through her dress, a stolen moment of intimacy as she sleeps, and I close my eyes and we could be anywhere.

    I feed her when she’s hungry, like she is a child. I wipe the spittle from her mouth and I am patient, waiting for her to chew and to swallow. The food is soon cold, but she does not seem to notice and I go on feeding her – she needs some strength still, for sometimes dying takes more effort than living. Days of sleeping and slow eating and she loosens her hold on me and I think I let her go a little more each day. And we are unwinding, or rewinding, going back to the start when she was Lindy and I was Ed and we were separate things.

    And when we get there, back to the beginning though it is really the end, when the train slides easy into the station, the last stop on the line, then she’ll see how much I still love her. He’ll be there, older of course, as we are, but still standing tall and tears on his cheek to see her so altered. And I think she will die in his arms then or soon after, and she’ll die happy and that’s all I can give her at the last, for hadn’t I taken her from him all those years back, and his name in her mouth now when she sleeps, his name and not mine.

    And the train rocking makes me sleepy, too. But I don’t dare. I watch her every breath, and I touch her leg as if she is something easily broken, and I listen, hearing the slow and slower beating of her heart, and I wait in hope.

      1. Endless curiosity and a bit of compulsion! Thanks for continuing to check in and trying the prompts. Makes it all worthwhile when you, Judith, and Lindsay share thoughts on story.

  2. Cynthia, I just read your piece. I like the way you write and your portrait of the old man and the sleeping woman, well, it’s very moving. Nice one.

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