10.15.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by Ansel Adams
Photo by Ansel Adams

October 15, 2014: They were eager for news.

One Reply to “10.15.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. We was eager for news. We queued up at the newsagents, knockin on the window with our knuckles and pointin to our watches, like the world was somehow runnin late. We was after the early papers.

    Inside Paterson’s Newsagents, we watched old Tom use a pen-knife to cut the pink string on the new-delivered stack of Daily Records and the Times and the Telegraph. Then we threw money down on the counter and scooped up a paper each and went outside where the light was brighter and we could read what was what.

    ‘Fuck!’ said Stu.

    There was colour pictures of things going off – explosions and shit. And soldiers that was just boys and they was crouched behind broken stone walls and you could see it in their eyes, even though the pictures was a little blurry, you could see, not just that they was boys but that they was scared.

    ‘What’s it say? Does it say anything about casualties? Does it say anyone died?’

    We was thinking of Colin and how he was the day before he left and how we kept slapping his back and saying that it was going to be ok and how he’d come back a fucking hero and girls in the street would just hand him their pants and give him that look – that look that Elsie Cotter gave me one time and it was after the school day and it was late. We climbed through a high open window into the boys’ school changing room. Then we was kissing, and her tongue was in my mouth and she was unbuttoning her blouse and unfastening her bra and I thought I’d died and gone to some place near to heaven.

    ‘And not just Elsie Cotter,’ we told Colin. ‘Shit, you could have your pick of ‘em. Maybe even Barbara Stenton.’

    Elsie Cotter had a lazy eye and her mam cut her hair and she cut it crooked sometimes. And Elsie wore second hand clothes and they never did fit, not even the bra she removed in the boys’ changing room that night and she put my hand flat on her tit and it was warm and soft and I didn’t know if I should press it or just hold it and Elsie Cotter didn’t know neither. But Barbara Stenton was a different prospect. She was the prettiest girl in school and she was cleverer than all of us put together. We all bought copies of the school yearbook so as we could cut out pictures of Barbara and we tucked them pictures into our wallets, pretending like Barbara was someone we really knew.

    ‘Six dead,’ Stu said.

    We sucked in air and scoured our own paper for confirmation.

    ‘Six,’ said Stu again, like it made a difference how many..

    And we all was wondering the same thing then. We was all wondering what the chances was that one of the six might be Colin and it was like the hardest maths sum ever.

    I felt a little sick inside just thinking about it, like I did when I was holding Elsie Cotter’s tit in my hand and not sure how far it was going to go with me and her. And like then, the whole world seemed strangely quiet, like it was holding its breath, and all my senses was heightened. Back then I could taste the air and I could smell the sweat under my palm and the lemon-sting scent of Vim scouring-powder hanging everywhere. And I could hear the quick in and out of Elsie’s breathing.

    We none of us spoke. Not for some time. We just looked at the dirt and we had our own thoughts, and I remembered telling Colin about that time in the changing room with Elsie Cotter, and Colin pressing me for details, wanting me to say what it felt like, what it actually felt like, so he could imagine it for himself, and all I could tell him was it felt sort of nice. And, thinking Colin might be one of the dead soldiers mentioned in the paper, suddenly what I’d told him seemed not enough.

    ‘Fuck,’ I said at last, and Stu and the rest thought I was swearing against the possibility that Colin might be dead, but in truth I was swearing against not being able to remember what it was like holding Elsie Cotter’s tit in my hand, not for Colin and not for myself.

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