8.18.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by Mary Ellen Mark
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark

August 18, 2014: There was something about water.

One Reply to “8.18.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. The light thins and the air bristles with cold – cold like a hard slap or like needles pricking. Oggie sits at one end of the bath and he makes himself small, his knees drawn up to his chest and his arms holding himself into a ball; and somewhere inside he makes the noise of a skelped pup and he does not think it is his noise.

    Oggie does not yet know time so he does not know how long he has stayed in the bath waiting for his room-light mammie to come lift him out all wrapped in a towel that smells of flowers and warm. He called at first and the sound of him calling cartwheeled through all the rooms of the house, but no mammie came. He called till ther sound of him calling was an empty drum. Now he feels the dark coming down, pressing like a weight, and he cowers in the water, feels himself dissolving, feels himself reduced to shiver and nothing more than shiver.

    His mammie was gone, the lady at the hospital said, the lady who was all smiles and her breath smelling of mint and her skin so clean Oggie thought it glowed. And she held his hand in hers and stroked it like it was a pet mouse or an injured bird. She didn’t say where Ogie’s mammie had gone, or when she might come back. He nodded and took back his hand, and he folded his arms and made the look of waiting.

    Now Ogden is older, tall enough he ducks under doors, and he still cocks his head sometimes, and he listens when he hears footsteps in the street, and he’d tell you, if you asked, that he’s listening for the post but he’d be telling a lie. And though he lives in a different apartment from the one his mammie left, he still walks from room to room looking in all the corners and into the dark of cupboards and under the bed, but he won’t tell you what he’s looking for.

    And Ogden forgets himself sometimes. Not like forgetting keys, which is the memory of keys but their being lost. No, Ogden really forgets himself. For days at a time. Does not eat so that he’s a sad streak of nothing, that’s what they said about him at school. Does not clean himself either, so that he smells of sour and sweat, and his hair is all shock and shift. And he does not turn up for work, so his name there is a solid thumped curse.

    Days like these he runs cold water into the bath and he undresses in the dark and he steps down into the water, making himself small. He huddles at the far end, away from the taps, and he makes again the sound of hurt puppies. And he waits till he does not know himself or time or anything – till all thought has dissolved and he is nothing more than shiver and the longing to be found.

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