One Reply to “5.1.2015 Journal Prompt”

  1. He wasn’t an uncle or anyone she knew, though he behaved like he was. He was just a guy Kelly met one day when she was down on her luck and he said she could stay with him if she had nowhere else to go. She’d looked at him then, like he’d made an indecent proposal and she said as how he was old enough to be her fucking dad for chrissakes. He said he didn’t like it when she swore and he said he had a spare room laying empty and it wouldn’t be anything dirty.

    Kelly wasn’t sure at first. The men she knew, and the boys, too, they were always out for something. She was used to that. You don’t get nothing for nothing in this world, her mam had told her, and Kelly thought she understood. When she was just fourteen, she was lost and far from home and she didn’t have the money for the bus home; this guy stopped and offered her a lift in his car. She had to give him a hand job in return for the favour. That’s how it had been all her days – not the hand jobs exactly, but the never getting anything without having to give something back.

    Donald was different, it seemed. He kept to his word. He didn’t ever make advances. He gave her a key to the apartment and he bought clean sheets for the bed and he gave her space in the kitchen cupboards, space for her own stuff. And he said, when she asked, that he liked her company, that’s all. He liked hearing someone else moving about the apartment when he was quiet, and he liked the smell of her in the bathroom, her soaps and sprays. And he liked making a pot of tea for two and not just for one. It was like being married, he said, and having only the good bits without all the shit – and he apologized straight away for his language.

    He was a bit weird sometimes, Kelly thought. He dressed weird. Like at the weekends and Donald sat about the apartment in a lady’s dressing gown, all flowers and frills. She asked him if he was gay, straight out. It would have made sense if he was and she’d have felt easier about everything. But he just shrugged and he said he wasn’t anything.

    And he didn’t smoke exactly, except once a week and he’d sit by the kitchen sink and the window open so wide the coolness of the day filled the room, and he’d light a cigarette and sit holding it and breathing in some of the smoke without putting the cigarette to his lips.

    And he danced by himself in the front room on Saturday mornings, to some old music that Kelly didn’t know, and when he danced it was like he was holding someone in his arms even though he was dancing alone.

    He was old enough to be her dad, Kelly had said, but one day she asked if he wanted someone to dance with. And he took her in his arms, with space between them, and they danced for maybe ten minutes, slow and easy, and she could smell his aftershave on the collar of his floral dressing gown, and cigarette smoke just faintly. And when she looked at him, he was crying and smiling at the same time.

    When the music stopped, they kept dancing for a few seconds, like they neither of them wanted it to end. Then they stopped. It was a little awkward between them, like they were both waiting for something to happen. Kelly leaned in and kissed him.

    Afterwards she wasn’t sure why she’d done that. It was just a kiss, but somehow she knew it had changed things. The way he looked at her, the way she looked at him, it was all changed.

    Donald found her key on the kitchen table one morning, and the house was quiet at his back, and he made a pot of tea for one and smoked three cigarettes one after the other and without opening the kitchen window. In the next room there was music playing, his Saturday music, but this time no one was dancing.

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