4.13.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by Inge Morath
Photo by Inge Morath

April 13, 2014: My mother liked to drive.

3 Replies to “4.13.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. Some days it was so hot in the house that the paint blistered on the walls and the air sweated and flies made such a fuss that it drove our mother mad. We were sent out onto the yard to play by our quiet father and told not to make a noise but to play all the same.

    We crouched in the only spot of shadow, clinging to the cool that was there down at the back of the shed. It was dark there and it smelled of pee and damp dug earth and something rotting. We pressed our fingers over our lips like we were keeping a secret and we listened. Fran was six and I was nearly eight, which is two years older.

    Sometimes there were words came to us out of the house and they were hard words and thrown like stones can be thrown and our mother said she’d just had enough and our father made sounds like dove calls and he was trying to make our mother softer. Doors could slam then and the glass in the windows of the house shook and then it was still. It was like when a storm sky darkens and lightning flashes and thunder claps, and then the storm leaves of a sudden and everything is quiet and full of relief.

    Other times our mother threw dishes to the floor and the noise then was like bells or music. Plates and cups and saucers, all made of china and all thrown and all broken into music, and our father standing back and letting our mother blow out her rage.

    Then she just left the house. She’d brush her hair into curls and spray it with lacquer, and she’d put on a clean print cotton dress and a necklace of silver and agate, and new shoes out of a box, and some perfume behind her ears and dabbed in the space between her diddies. And she’d just go. She said she just liked to drive and that’s all it was. She said that driving cleared her head and she could wind the windows down and feel the cool air running fingers all over her.

    In town there was talk and if you were used to crouching in shadows, like me and Fran, you heard things that you shouldn’t have heard. Mrs Orfen said to Mrs Cooper that there was a man on the edge of town and he dressed all in white, and he smelled of eau de cologne from France, and he drank lemonade from tall glasses with cut ice and slices of lime. And Mrs Orfen said our mother went there some days, in her fancy pink car, and the two of them went inside and the Lord knows what they were up to then, but he was a man and a she was a woman and when you put two and two together it usually makes four.

    Me and Fran, we didn’t understand everything that Mrs Orfen said, but that was the secret we kept when we were down at the back of the shed with our fingers pressed to our lips and the air smelling of pee and rotting.

    When our mother came back from her driving, she was better. She had a song in her mouth and a dance in all her steps and she said to our father how she was sorry and she kissed him on the cheek. And she threw wide the windows of the house to let us all breathe and she called me and Fran in from the yard.

    And our father smiled at us when our mother wasn’t looking and everything was right again until the next hot day.

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