Posted on October 6, 2014October 5, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair10.6.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Larry Clark October 6, 2014: She said it didn’t matter. 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 says she was walking across the grass and a carelessly placed rake was under one step and it sprang into the air and hit her quick in the eye. Or she was dancing down the Playfair steps and she tripped and tumbled down the last few. Or standing at the bar when the bell for last orders was called and there was a flurry of activity and everywhere arms raised like kids in school all eager to answer the teacher’s question and one keen boy hit her in the face and it was quite by accident so it did not matter.
You’ve got a story for everything, I tell her.
She laughs and then recoils from that laughing, as though stung, and her face creases with the pain – like she might be in church at a funeral and the woman standing beside her nudging her sharp in the ribs to stop her indelicate laughter.
Only, I know the back end of a cow from the front, I tell her.
She nods. The bruise at her eye is black as ink or crow wing. She nods and says she knew someone once who had a face like the back end of a cow. She laughs again and I laugh with her – and just for a moment it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we are laughing and I am touching her face like a lover and telling her that she is more precious than pennies or pounds.
It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last, Mary sleeping in my bed and not in his. I beg her not to go back, this time and every time. He’s a brute, I tell her, a bastard and a brute. She could stay with me. I’d not see her out on the street selling kisses and what not. She could stay with me and I’d be so gentle with her it’d be like her world was made all of feathers. I tell her, and I lean in to kiss her lips and I breath in her hot breath. Please, I say. Just stay here.
She nods and she says she will. But it is only for tonight that she means, when I mean forever. He’ll be a different man in the morning, she says. He’ll be the prince of fairytales then and he’ll scoop me up and put me beside him on his horse. There’s lovely, he’ll say, and it will be. But tonight I will stay with you.
I undress her, slow and careful not to draw attention to the bruises on her breasts and her back. I pretend not to see them, though my lips give breathless shape to the number of them. I kiss the spaces in between, kitten-kisses, the pink tip of my tongue licking her skin.
I love you, Kitty Morrison, she says. I love you now with all my heart.
I put her into my bed and I lie down beside her pulling the covers over us and we are pressed together then like two spoons in a tight drawer.
Tonight I love you, Kitty Morrison, she says again. And in the morning when we wake, it will be like none of this ever was. Not the bruises or the forbidden love – except in memory or dreams or prayers.
There, there, I tell her. Be still now. And I lie awake till morning, counting the seconds so that they might last a little longer than they do.