10.3.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by André Kertész
Photo by André Kertész

October 3, 2014: He had a funny name.

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One thought on “10.3.2014 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    I was there, the night when pa pulled the skittery critter out from the dying mother’s slit belly, all slick and blood and snot, it’s body steaming and its legs like broke sticks. And pa blew into its nose, see, like he blows when he wants a spark to start a fire, and he took a handful of straw and showed me how to wipe it clean and he was rough with what he did. In his jacket pocket he had a rubber-teated glass bottle of warmed milk for feeding it and he pulled open its pink mouth and taught it how to suck.

    ‘Don’t you go fallin in love with it, now,’ he said. ‘Won’t do no good but to break your heart, boy, when the day comes and it must be brought to the knife.’

    I shook my head and I pushed it away from me with my foot and I said it made no nevermind to me. ‘Love,’ I scoffed. ‘I love mam and lil Lucy and meat in gravy with taters and peas.’ And I swore not to love the motherless lamb. But how could I not?

    It was waiting for me on days I came home from school, the air all bleat and blow, and it was unsteady on its legs at first. Mam said she’d fed it on the hour, every hour, and she’d got the dinner to see to now and so I was to take over. She’d filled two bottles with milk and I sat with the wee lamb in the barn, fighting against its impatient punch and kick, and laughing at the mess it made of itself and me, with milk everywhere. Afterwards, the sandpaper-lick of its tongue against my cheek and my neck.

    ‘What should we call it?’ I asked pa on the first day.

    Pa spat on the ground and he said it wouldn’t fare long enough in this world to be carrying a name. I called it Snot to show pa that I wasn’t for loving it.

    ‘You feed it up and there’s a shiny shillin in it for you when old Tom calls with his wetted knife and his bucket for catchin the blood.’

    Inside, my stomach turned at that, but I didn’t let pa see. I just nodded and spat on the ground same as he did.

    Then it was Spring soon enough and I reckon it’s called Spring on account of all the lambs leaping in the fields and hares dancing in the tall grass come March and the whole of the farm with a bounce in its step, even pa. And Snot was no different, cavorting like a mad ‘un, like someone filled up with happy – like the farm boy, Sonny, when he’s had his hand under the skirt of Tilly the milk-maid and his fingers smell of fish and his lips are red from kissing and pa says the boy’s just silly in love.

    And I’m silly in love, too, I reckon, but pa don’t know that. Silly in love and with a small hard nut of hate bursting open at the dark very heart of me. Old Tom it is that I hate with his cheery good-day and his knife wrapped in a bit of leather cloth and it’s sharp as a razor. Pa says he’ll be visiting at the weekend and he reminds of the shiny shilling that’s waiting for me, and I wipe my nose on the back of my sleeve and I don’t let on that my heart’s breaking inside of me. And when Snot comes running to across the field cos he knows it’s me, I kick it away with the hard toe of my boot, and love and hate becomes all mixed up together then.

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