Posted on July 13, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair7.13.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Carl Mydans July 13, 2014: It was like spying. 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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Mama said I was too sick to leave the house and that the doctor would have to come to me. I had a temperature and a stubborn quick cough and there was a rash on my arms. I had to keep to my bed, Mama said.
The doctor was a sour faced man with smoke in his wiry beard and no hair under his hat. He unbuttoned his coat and opened his black leather case, muttering to himself, grumbling, something about his wife and some beef he had to collect from the butcher shop and some cheese from a delicatessen on the far side of town. He listened to my chest through a dulled brass trumpet and he inspected my tongue using a flat stick and he confirmed that I had a slight temperature. He prescribed bed rest for a few days and said there was nothing for my Mama to worry about.
Mama offered him coffee or tea or a brandy, but he had the beef to collect and the cheese and so he declined and hurried from the house without so much as a good-day or a good-bye, still muttering to himself.
Mama said I should sleep. She said that sleep was the best medicine and, though it was the middle of the day, she drew the curtains closed, settled me in my bed and crept from my room. I could hear her moving around the rest of the house and trying not to make a sound. I could hear the cars making small thunder on the street and somewhere a woman was singing and a dog was barking. I did not think I could find the sleep that the doctor said I should.
I got up and moved to the window. I opened the curtains only enough to look out, enough that I could put one eye to the crack and observe all the comings and goings of the apartments opposite ours without myself being seen. It was like spying.
I watched the postman going about his deliveries. His name is Petey and he is always breathless and red-faced with all the stairs he has to climb, and he smiles at small babies in their prams or at dogs that bark, and he tips his hat to people he meets, and wipes his nose with the back of his hand.
I saw Mrs Oliga in her kitchen and she it was who was singing, and she was counting the money she keeps hidden in the tin tea caddy, hidden from her husband and from the world. I had seen her do this before, but never with Mrs Oliga bursting into song and so I thought she must today have a pretty penny saved up in her tin.
And Mr Ketch I saw also. He was alone and reading his newspaper and talking to no one or talking to the cat. I did not think Mrs Ketch would be pleased that the cat was sitting on the table licking up milk out of her blue porcelain jug.
And Barbara Trow was busy with tidying her two rooms, and she was brushing her teeth at the same time and fussing over her hair and straightening the sheets on her bed. And she was dressed in only her pink pants so I could see the sag and sling of her breasts as she moved. Barbara Trow, and Mama said she was a tart and Mama saying that was something bad, though tarts in my experience were sweet and only given as a treat after Saturday tea.
The floor was cold under my feet and hard, and I was suddenly breathing like a horse that has come to a stop after a short canter and it blows heavy through its nose, and the light of the day, sharp as pins, began to hurt my eyes. Mama was still trying to be quiet as mouse-steps on the other side of my room door, and so I crept back to my bed. And, though the world was still full of thunder and singing and dog-barks, sleep found me soon enough. And I dreamed of counting pennies and cats licking milk from blue jugs and Barbara Trow’s breasts moving all by themselves and Saturday tarts arranged on a plate and Mama saying I could have one when I was better.