Posted on May 22, 2015May 22, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair5.22.2015 Journal Prompt Photo by Pedro Meyer May 22, 2015: This was before. Like this:Like Loading... Related
2 Replies to “5.22.2015 Journal Prompt”
He’d fallen out with his da, Col had. They’s always falling out these days. Came to blows once and his mam had to cut in and break ‘em up. Then there was just a stoney silence atween ‘em for days after and Col said that was worse cos then the very air was bruised and it was like he was taking blows inside him.
His mam said it couldn’t go on like that. She said it was doing things to her, seeing ‘em that way. She remembered how they was before, when Col was a boy and knee high to a duck and he followed his da in everything. She tells stories of that time, telling ‘em over and over and adding bright bits of her own to make ‘em stories glisten.
‘And you used to hitch up your britches just like your da, and scratch your chin the same, and smoking a cigarette like your da, only it warn’t no cigarette in your pretty strawberry mouth – it was a bit stick or a nail or a pencil. And I laughed to see you had your da to a ‘t’ with the sucking deep into your toes and the blowing smoke rings into the air and your lips pursed like one side of a kiss. Just the very spit of him.’
Col said he din’t really remember, but he did. Saying he din’t recall looking at his da that way and wanting to be every inch the same as him, well, that was like punching his da in the stomach again, punching hard as hammers and feeling the give and take of that punch and the wind taken out of his da then.
And I can see what Col’s mam’s meaning, cos Col is still more like his da than not. Not the shape of him, obviously, but I see small gestures in the boy that belong to the man, and the way he walks, and the words he uses to cuss the day or bless the girl he is with, all of ‘em are there in Col’s da. I don’t say nothing, however. It ain’t my place to, not when I’m Col’s best friend.
So, when Col ups and says one day how he’s had it up to here, which he makes a gesture with one hand lifted to his chin, and he says he’s got to get outta there for a few days, and he asks me to go with him, well I say ok cos I know it’ll pass and we’ll be back as soon as us being away is uncomfortable.
I thought we’d stay in someone’s front room, sleeping on a sofa or a floor; or maybe stretch to a room in a motel, one of ‘em cheap places with woodlice in the bathroom when you switch on the light and stains on the carpet and the walls that don’t need speculating on, and a tear in the sheet on the bed. But Col was skint, and I was, too, so we slept in the wood above the town. It was like we was ten years old all over again, and we made a rough shelter out of a plastic sheet and leaves and cardboard, all propped up with sticks.
I don’t mind admitting it was as cold as gravestones that first night and Col couldn’t get no fire going and so we slept curled into one another for warmth.
‘No silly business,’ Col said.
But the thing is I thought the whole sleeping in the wood thing was silly business.
S’been like this now for three days and three fucking nights, and we’re beginning to smell, and Col’s hair is all tangled and torn, and I reckon as how mine must be the same. And there’s an ache inside me, which I know is just the absence of food; and I itch in all the tight places; and I want to say to Col that maybe he could make up with his da and how hard could that be? But I don’t say nothing, cos I know Col’s stubborn as a stuck standing mule and I know cos my mam says the same about Col’s da.
So I do what a friend must and I say nothing and I stand by him and I wait for the days to take their toll – which they will eventually.
I aint given in to him, my da. Not nohow. Not though Denny thinks I should. He don’t say as much, but I can see it in the way he looks at me. I tell him he don’t have to stay, sleeping rough in the wood alongside of me. I tell him it’s ok and he can go home if he’s a mind to. But Denny’s a good sort and so he sticks by me long past it being comfortable and maybe I need that.
I aint going back home just to make up, like nothing happened at all. Not for what he said and what he done. Fuck, he’s my da and I looked up to him once. Aint that what mam’s always saying, how I was just the double of him made small when I was a kid? Wearing my britches the same and my hair slicked back with the same two fingers of slippy hair cream and pretending like I was smoking with a broke bit stick caught ‘tween the nip of finger and thumb and that’s the same as my da does.
He’s allus criticizing me and I can take that. Does my head in sometimes and we comes to blows when it gets too much. But that’s just how we rubs along. I feel sorry for my mam then cos she’s allus in the middle of it and allus trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and trying to make a peace ‘tween us. He don’t like the way I sit or how I got my hair or what I’m doing with my time. I don’t wear no hair cream these days and still does; and I sit my way and not his; but I spend my days pretty much the same as him: we work shifts at the old mill and he it was that got me the job and I don’t know if I forgive him for that.
‘Fuck, but I could eat a scabby horse and no need on cooking it,’ I say to Denny. He just nods and he don’t say shit and that way I know he thinks the same and I guess maybe I feel bad for him sticking by me. Only, I can’t go back. Not to face my da and look as though things is fine with us when they aint.
‘Today is another new day,’ my ma allus says when me and da been at it. I can hear her saying it and she’s standing over a hot steaming coffee pot and there’s a tower of buttered pancakes on a plate and maple syrup in a white porcelain jug painted over with blue flowers. And my da’ sitting opposite me and he asks me to pass the syrup and like that it’s all sweetness ‘tween us agin.
‘If I recall, yor mam makes mighty fine pancakes of a morning,’ Denny says, like he’s reading my mind, which I s’ppose it aint exactly hard to do being as how the morning is just up and the flies is biting the back of my neck and I’ve just said as how hungry I am.
It’s my da as is the one should be passing me the syrup, I reckon. He’s the one as should be making the peace and saying as how he’s real sorry for the things he said and how he’d take back what he done if’n he could. But like mam says, me and da is cut from the same cloth and we is both of us stubborn as stuck mules that has made up their minds not to shift.
‘I’m real sorry, Denny,’ I say, and those words come real easy and Denny just shrugs and smiles and he scratches at his arm like he’s been bitten, and I feel shit for staying there in the wood, but I know I’ll feel shit going home, too. ‘Real sorry,’ I say agin.