4.27.2014 Journal Prompt

Image from August, Osage County
Image from August, Osage County

April 27, 2014: They weren’t from here.

One Reply to “4.27.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. The tall one was called Christine and she kept touching her neck, like she was checking for something that once used to hang there on a silver chain. And she broke all her words into smaller pieces and it was like she was thinking of what should come next, like she didn’t really know what she was saying.

    The other one was called May and her hair was red as the rust on our old truck, the one that has no wheels and it ain’t ever going no place again. And the hens lay their eggs on the front seat and nettles grow in the back just where the dirt has gathered and given them a hold. And May talked a little easier and she talked like she was from here.

    They paid me in dollars, crisp new notes, and plenty. Money was no object. Just to talk, they said, and just pretending like we went to school together. It was some sort of research, they said, like maybe they were writers or actors getting into character. And they’d brought some wine to loosen all our tongues.

    They asked me to talk to them about school and a boy I knew back then. There were plenty of boys so I just started in. I told them about Cooper and how he was always combing his hair back from his face and how he was pretty as picture and his voice all dark brown and soft. And talking was like remembering, or maybe it was the wine, but I kind of missed Cooper then.

    They were listening hard, and I could see them making the shapes and mis-shapes of my words with their lips, like they were practicing kissing before it ever happened.

    Then May started talking and her words came out in a rush, like water that spills from an upturned jug. And she said that she’d fucked Cooper once and he was clumsy with his hands so that he tore her dress, tore a button off and it rolled across the floor and into the dark under her mother’s dressing table, by which I was to know that she was fucking Cooper in her mother’s bed. I didn’t think that sounded like Cooper, but they were paying top dollar so I played along.

    And Christine said she didn’t think she remembered Cooper and she asked me to describe him some more.

    He was sort of lean, I said, and his cheeks all sunken and his eyes blue as the pool up at Larkin’s Farm. And I said he wasn’t so clumsy in my reckoning. And I said as how he was more respectful than to fuck a girl in her mother’s own bed. His folks were church folks, I said, and though Cooper wasn’t he still had church goodness in him.

    May said maybe it wasn’t Cooper that tore the button on her dress. She said maybe it was Stu, but there weren’t no Stu. She said he was a piece of work, that Stu, and he smelled of cigarettes and sour milk and he was always touching her under her dress and no shame if that touching was where others could see. I laughed and I said that sounded like Stu. And Christine nodded and she said how she’d heard Stu making out in the school toilets with a girl called Rose and he kept making farting sounds and calling on Jesus.

    They stayed till it was almost light and they got a little better in their talking as the night unfolded. And the stories we told just made us all laugh they were so ridiculous. By the end even I almost could believe they were old friends from school, the sounds of their voices and the words all twisted and torn, like they were from here even though they weren’t. They thanked me and they said I’d been a real help, only their voices were their own voices then.

    After they’d gone my thoughts turned to Cooper again and I slipped a hand under my blouse and I cupped my breast, my fingers touching the nipple, and with my eyes closed and with the gin and no sleep, I could imagine it was Cooper there with me. And trust what I say and the way that I say it, he wasn’t clumsy with his hands, not as I remember him.

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