Posted on May 17, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair5.17.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Siesta May 17, 2015: He could be like this. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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She was through with him, she said. Really she was. He was nothing to her and never would be anything again. I touched her cheek. Laid my palm soft and flat against her face. I told her I loved her. She softened and smiled. She said she loved me, too.
Her saying that was something I’d thought about before. I’d written it down in a notebook. I’d put those words into her mouth and my hand against her cheek. Only, it was different somehow. In the notebook it was different and in my head different. Life can be like that sometimes: it doesn’t quite live up to what you expect it to be.
I let my hand drop from her cheek – not in the notebook, but in life. I smiled, weakly. I don’t think Livvy noticed. I breathed deep and looked past Livvy to the open window and beyond. The day was bright and I could hear the staccato snip and snipe of a blackbird somewhere. I recognized the alarm in its calling and I imagined the cat was in the garden, maybe just sitting with its eyes closed as though it did not really care and its tail still, except for the very end of it.
Livvy lay back on the bed, her eyes fixed on the ceiling. In my notebook I unbuttoned her blouse, slow and easy, the small pearl buttons slipping their buttonholes. And she was not wearing anything underneath. In the notebook she wasn’t. And I touched her, not quite believing I could, not believing any of this was real – which it wasn’t, in fact.
‘But what if he came back?’ I said.
She did not answer, but pulled me to her. We kissed. I’d written about that, too. Thought about the taste and the touch – salt and sweet and wet. But in life her lips were dry and it did not feel like a kiss at all.
‘What if who came back?’ she said and she laughed as though she had made a joke, and her laughing did not seem real either, seemed all bluff and bluster.
‘But really, what if he did?’ I said.
We were close enough I could feel her breath on my face, could see the blue-grey in her eyes – blue-grey like pebbles lying at the bottom of the river and when you lift them out of the water they are soon no longer shiny and wet and are only a disappointment.
‘I’d choose you,’ she said.
Then there was the sound of small stones rattling against the glass of the window and after his voice calling Livvy’s name and her name like a song in his mouth. And at first she just kissed me again, all for show, and I wanted it to be real.
Another skitter of flung stones and she pulled away and she swore under her breath – for me rather than for him. Then she drew breath and got up from the bed and stood at the window looking down.
He was there. Looking like he was hurting inside. Looking pretty as a man ever could. And he held a bunch of flowers in one hand – not shop bought, but flowers he’d picked himself. Livvy was beside me and I heard the intake of her breath, heard her heart beating, heard her saying, soft as whispers, his name. And there, for the first time that day, was something I could really believe.
‘I love you, Livvy,’ I said, not in life but only in the notebook.
The back and forth between the written and the real…love it.
Thanks, Patty. Glad you like me being playful!
He was standing there looking like a fucking sissy with a knot of flowers in one hand. And he said he was sorry and like that I was just supposed to forgive and forget.
‘Sorry is it?’ I said.
My mam said it was on the cards, what happened with Gabriel. She says stuff like ‘a leopard can’t be changing its spots’ and ‘men is to sex like flies to shit or bears to honey’. She’s talking ‘bout my da when she says all that. She’s explaining how she forgave him once and forgave him again and again.
There’s a woman up on Coldfoot way and our da had a thing for her. Off and on it was, and when it was off he allus came back to our mam and mam allus took him back. She said it was on account of us kids needing a da, but with a drink in her she’d tell you she loved him. Right down to her boots, she’d say, and god in his heaven forgive me, she’d add.
And mam says all men is the same and bless ‘em if they can’t help what they are. She says it’s nature and what da does with the woman up Coldfoot, well that’s one thing and what mam and da has together, that’s something different and something more. And mam says Gabriel is no different. Pretty he may be, but he’s still a man and there’s girls all over the town, and women, too, lying in their beds, eyes closed and touching atween their legs and imagining it’s the hand of Gabriel is there where their own hand is.
‘Sorry is it?’ I say again to Gabriel with his fistful of flowers and his eyes sad as puppies’ and his tail atween his legs.
And he says how I am the only one and he says that he loves me and he allus has and he allus will. To the moon and back again, he says. And I remember da was like that on the nights he came home and the drip drip of pretty words into mam’s ears till she kissed him and took him back to her storm-tossing bed.
‘And if I’m the only one and it’s to the moon and back, how come you been fucking Shelley at the end of the street? Fucking so hard the kids standing in the road could hear and they come running to my door too cheerful with the news they had.’
Gabriel winces ‘gainst the words I say, like each one is a punch in his ribs. And he lifts the flowers a little, like I maybe haven’t noticed a trick he’s just performed. And he says again how he’s sorry and how Shelley ain’t nothing to him and how I am everything.
And I know those wrods. I’ve heard ‘em before. Not coming out of Gabriel’s mouth, but out of my da’s. He was on his knees and he was beseeching our mam, like she was the Virgin Mary and he was asking for all his sins to be forgiven. And he said how the woman up Coldfoot was nothing to him and mam was everything and mam took him back again and again.
I shut the door ‘gainst Gabriel and his sissy flowers, not hard or hurt, but shutting it all the same. Mam says more fool me, and she says again ‘bout leopards and spots and flies and shit and bears and honey. But I don’t accept what she’s saying. I tell her there’s other men besides Gabriel and different men, and I tell her I want more than a man who says pretty and does dirty. And mam laughs and she says there ain’t no good wishing for the moon or the stars and she says how they ain’t something that can be had.
I ain’t so sure.