1.24.2015 Journal Prompt

Photo by Doug Wilson/NARA via The Atlantic
Photo by Doug Wilson/NARA via The Atlantic

January 24, 2015: It was time.

One Reply to “1.24.2015 Journal Prompt”

  1. I’d see ‘em some days. Out on the water. Just laying back, the boat drifting and the sun all over ‘em. They were down for the summer. I knew Julie, knew her folks and where they lived. I’d known her since she was nothing and now she was something. The other girl was called Miriam. She was a college room-mate of Julie’s. They just wanted to take it easy a while, now that term was over, just the two of ‘em kicking back.

    They asked if they could borrow my boat and I shrugged and said ok. Miriam kissed me on the cheek and she said I was a prince. I ain’t been kissed in years. Not by no one, so Miriam kissing me was a little unsettling. Maybe that was why I kept an eye on ‘em when they was out on the boat.

    They went out early and they stayed out for the whole day. They’d read some, saying the words out loud to each other, loud enough I could hear and it was like they was reading to me. Or they’d listen to the radio – Julie had one of them portable transistors and they’d sing along to the music, wailing in and out of tune and laughing. And they’d swim sometimes, just stripping down to their underwear or less and slipping like otters into the cool still water.

    Miriam had hair the colour of flame and she was always laughing. I watched her more than Julie and I thought of that kiss she gave me on the cheek way more than I should have. I took to leaving them small gifts in the boat, putting them there before the day was quite up so that they’d find them when they came down in the morning.

    I left ‘em flowers and acorns and a small brown paper bag of mushrooms I’d picked fresh, golden chantrelles that tasted faintly of apricots. And woodpecker feathers, and honey in its comb, and yesterday’s newspaper, or a book I’d filched from the library, a book about water sprites and kelpies.

    They took to stopping by at the end of the day to thank me. I got bottles of wine in. I had to ask at the store what wine was best and I took their recommendations. We drank Prosecco out of the bottle sometimes, or out of chipped china tea-cups that they brought with them. I drank it too fast at first and the bubbles stung the back of my throat.

    I asked them about their day and they talked over each other telling me of the things they’d seen and the thoughts they’d had. I didn’t have to say anything more; I just sat back and listened and their words were all fizzy in my head. It was soon the best part of my day, better even than watching Miriam slipping naked into the water.

    Then one day it was just Miriam. Julie was not well and she’d kept to her bed. Miriam took the boat out herself and she did all the things she usually did, everything without Julie. I watched her for hours and would be watching her still if the day had not ended as days will do. And I thought about being alone with Miriam when she came ashore again.

    She dropped in to say she’d tied the boat up and I offered her wine same as before. She sat beside me on the porch seat, close enough I could feel her leg touching mine and I could hear her every breath. We drank the wine out of the bottle and I made her go first so I could taste her lips on the lip of the bottle. There were dragonflies at the water’s edge and a yellow butterfly playing in the reeds. I said something about this being perfect – or at least I wanted to say it and the words had shape in my head, but I don’t know if I said them out loud.

    Miriam said something about not being able to stay long and how she had to get back to Julie and she said she hoped she was feeling better. I said, of course.

    Afterwards, I just sat on the porch watching the last of the sun on the water, and I realized that I was smiling.

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