Posted on August 26, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair8.26.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Dorothea Lange August 26, 2014: He had beautiful hands. 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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Before you judge me, hear what I have to say. Walk about in my shoes for a while and see if you wouldn’t have done something the same. Maybe you’d have done it sooner. Maybe you wouldn’t have done it at all, but you can understand why I did and why I do.
Life is short. That’s what I know. My mammie died when I was in my teens. I held her hand and I cried and I said she wasn’t to go nowhere. She had something wrong with her heart, something she was born with. I used to think it was that she didn’t love me like she should. If she’d have loved me more then it would’ve been harder for her to leave – that’s what I thought.
Then my daddie passed too. About a year after mammie, and they say he just gave up on living and that with mammie gone he had nothing to live for. They said that where me and Jodie could hear and that messed us up for ever; messed Jodie up more than me.
Jodie was mad as hornets when their nest’s been stoned by small boys, mad all the time after mammie and daddie were gone into the ground. She was all hiss and spit and sting, kicking and punching like a sack caught jack-rabbit. She ran away from school and from the home they put us in and from everything – and I mean everything. That’s how I know life is short.
It was just by luck that I found Kenny, or he found me. We saved each other, is what he says, but the truth is he saved me. He’s a good listener and he doesn’t ever try to fix me. He just holds me, tight as old men hold money they’ve won, and he kisses my neck and he makes the noises of keening women, and his breath coming quick then and he’s touching me all over, and I let him; and when he’s done and we’re lying side by side in the bed, that’s the best time. Kenny’s a good man and he’s good for me and I need him.
We got kids now, Mike and Lucy, and I tell them I love them. Every day I tell them, just in case one day I am not there. And I kiss them and stroke their hair and I say they are good and clever and everything – and they are. And we got a house, paying it up every month and each month a little bit more of it is ours. And we both have jobs, me and Kenny, and we do alright.
But then there’s this guy who cleans the pool. His name’s Ernesto and he speaks a broken English so it is like listening to poetry, and his eyes are as black as coal so that when he looks at you his look is hard. We were talking one day, just passing the time, and I don’t know why, but I told him about my mammie and holding her hand and watching her last breaths. There were tears on his cheeks and I reached up to wipe them away. Ernesto took my hand in his.
I swear that’s all it was and all it still is: his hand holding mine and the two of us just looking hard, one at the other, for the longest time, and the sun prickling the skin on the back of my neck and the birds singing in the trees as though it’s nothing. But it isn’t nothing. Ernesto’s hands are beautiful and he doesn’t try grabbing for me, or start unbuttoning my dress, or even stroking my hair. And like that it is perfect.
It happened again today. It’s easier than before. I just walk out to where Ernesto is and I take his hand in mine and we just stand like that for maybe a half hour. He doesn’t speak and I don’t speak either. We just stand with our own thoughts. And what I was thinking today was about mammie in her bed and what she said to me at the last. Mammie said she wasn’t really going and that she’d always be there watching over me and she said she loved me more than beans and rice – and the beans and rice bit was because she’d never said she loved me before and the words did not come easy to her. And standing looking into the dark of Ernesto’s eyes and holding his beautiful hand in mine, I suddenly found my mammie’s love.
I’m a married woman, ten years married, and two kids, and a nice home, and a husband who still wants me like he did that very first day; and I hold hands with the man who cleans the pool, twice a week in the summer and not at all in the winter. I know Kenny would be mad as stoned hornets if he knew, but still I do it.
Now you can judge me.