Posted on August 10, 2014August 9, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair8.10.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by William Gedney August 10, 2014: When the women went away. 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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She always said she’d leave one day. Said it so often I didn’t ever believe she would. I shrugged and held open the door and said to her, ‘Go then. What’s stopping you?’ But I never thought she would and I thought there was maybe a hundred reasons why she wouldn’t.
It wasn’t always like that. Not every day. Sometimes the moments between us were soft as chicken feathers and I’d stroke her hair through my fingers and tell her she was ‘lovely now’. And she smiled and gave up kisses and my hand slipping easy under her dress and she opened her legs a little, and enough. And after, as we lay side by side, catching our breath, sweat cooling on her skin and on mine, she’d say ‘there there’ and put one hand gentle on my chest, just where my heart is.
‘So, go then. What’s to stop you?’ Said with all the bluff and bluster of thinking she never would. For where would she go? Her mam’s dead and in the ground now for more years than I really remember – and I know I should remember, but I don’t; and her dad’s maybe dead for all we know, but is gone certainly and not a word to say where he might be, not since her mam died. So, where would she go? Not her sister’s, certainly, not with her seven kids and her house all tipped and muddled like a shook box of biscuits, and smelling of cat piss when you open the door and the water in her taps running brown like tea. No, see, there’s nowhere – just here and just me.
‘So, go then. And I shan’t stand in your way, girl.’
And there’s Alan and little Lou, and she says sometimes that they are god’s gift to her and they are the light in her life, and she holds Lou like she’s holding a glass ball and she dare not drop it, and she runs her fingers through Alan’s hair, lik eonce she ran them through mine, and she says he’s grown up handsome, and she strokes his cheek and calls him her beauty. And even when she’s spitting wasps at me, she cannot stand hard against Alan and Lou. And so she stays when going is something she threatens me with.
Then last week and she pressed her lips together like she was holding pins in ‘em and she quietly packed a bag and left. Not a word to no one and no door slammed shut to announce her going. I thought she was maybe at the shops or the doctors and Alan thought maybe that was so, or to the dark escape of the cinema on Morrison Street. I made the kids their tea – just egss and some toast, and apples cut into slices after – and I washed them for bed, their faces and under their arms, and I read them stories until they fell into sleep.
I was worried late the next day, when still she hadn’t returned. I phoned the hospital, just in case. And Madge, a friend of hers in town. And the Bluebird Motel for maybe she’d checked in there. But she was nowhere. And the next day and the next day, and Lou asking where she was, over and over, and I couldn’t say. So I made it a game, and we sit out at the front of the house, watching the day spread empty before us, and ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…’ and I don’t know how long we’ve been doing that now. near on a year, perhaps.
And one day, even yet, I hope it will be his mam Lou sees and not swallows or trees or wind. Alan is tired of the game and keeps to his room, but Lou goes on playing long past my interest or his, playing it like it is a prayer he must say each day.