9.10.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by William Eggleston
Photo by William Eggleston

September 10, 2014: When my mother left…

One Reply to “9.10.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. When mama left, though it was only for one night, I made the house mine. I collected together the things that were hers and I put them into boxes and I hid the boxes in the dark of cupboards. I changed the pictures on the walls and the sheets on her bed and the position of the furniture. And I threw open the windows at the back and the front of the house so that a clean air could blow through.

    Then I ran a deep bath with dissolving bath salts so the water was green and so hot that afterwards my skin was pink as though I had been gently slapped all over. And I washed my hair and dried it styled different so that catching my reflection I was a little surprised at who I was. I put on make-up, too, and gave special attention to the glossy kiss of my lips.

    Then I took my time dressing, inspecting each step of the process in the full-length hall mirror. I’d bought new underwear, all red lace and underwired so that my diddies were pushed into shapes they had not known for years. And a new dress, too, and it slipped over my head and down over me like an all-over caress.

    He was a little late in arriving and I was for a moment anxious about his coming at all. I drank a whole glass of white wine before he knocked at the door of my mama’s house. He said I looked pretty and then he was kissing me and his hands making journeys under my dress.

    I don’t think he noticed the trouble I’d gone to. I heard a seam of my dress tear as he pulled if from me. Then his hands were fiddling with the clasp of my bra and his breath hot and blowing on my neck. We did it in the hall. On the carpet. I could smell the dust and the sweat from mama’s feet caught in the weave. It wasn’t as I’d planned it. He kept swearing and calling on Jesus and God, and he came before I was even close. Then he was breathless and heavy on me.

    I offered him a drink and he said that’s be fine. He was still dressed in his shirt and his trousers and his socks. He asked if he could smoke. I said he could, knowing mama would disapprove.

    After, we sat in the front room with the curtains closed. I was naked and he was dressed. I made a move to put something on and he said not to. I was conscious of the sag of my breasts and the pleated folds of my stomach. He kept touching me, as if he didn’t quite believe I was real. He stroked the small of my back and my neck under the hair. He said my name and there was longing and lust in his saying it.

    We did it again. In the front room this time. On mama’s favourite sofa. He was not so quick as before, but still he was there when I wasn’t, though I made noises that gave him to think it was good for me, too. Then he slept.

    He was gone in the night and he left money on the table by the door. This was not for him what I thought it was for me. I pictured mama lying awake in a strange bed at the Milton hotel and drinking bitter tea from a cup that was thick-lipped and heavy and two empty thumb-sized cartons of milk that could not soften the taste of the tea.

    ‘It is only for one night,’ she’d said. ‘It is a small enough thing if you have found yourself a husband.’

    There was a stain on mama’s sofa and the smell of cigarette smoke lingered in the hall. I unpacked mama’s things from the boxes and put the house back to how it was before. The new dress and the underwear I put into a bag and the bag into the bin. Then I removed the make-up from my face.

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