7.3.2015 Journal Prompt

Photo by Mary Ellen Mark
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark

July 3, 2015: When they got together…

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One thought on “7.3.2015 Journal Prompt

  1. There was this kid outside work today. Just standing on the street with his mom. Only, he didn’t look like a kid really. He was dressed like he was a old man, his hair all slick and slap and his rat-like face all spit and spite. He was making some sort of protest, him and his mom, and he had a banner and was waving a flag.

    I didn’t pay no heed really, not at first, not till the words of his banner caught my eye. It said something about if your heart wasn’t in it then get the hell out – something like that at least. They was protesting against people in the country who don’t belong there, people who’d come from someplace else.

    I reckon as people belong to the world and the world belongs to the people so I don’t hold with what the boy and his mom was saying. But the words of the boy’s banner kept going round in my head, cos there seemed to me to be a truth in there somewhere.

    Me and Linnie, we been together now for maybe six years. We got a apartment up on Merriman Street. It’s got two bedrooms and a balcony that looks up at the polished sky. It’s more than we can afford really, so we just scrape by, looking for the coming end-of-the-month and our wages dropping into our shared account and making it so we can eat again.

    We got this big double bed that almost fills the one room, so big we can sleep in it and not really be together, or we have to find each other in the sleeping dark, which we don’t bother with if the night is breathless hot.

    Linnie’s ok. By that I mean, she’s pretty in a way that other men notice. And she’s smart, too, and she could do better than me. That’s what I tell her sometimes. It’s the only thing Linnie’s mom and me agree on. At first I tried to live up to what she was and I watched my p’s and q’s and I kept myself clean as a new toothbrush, and I took an extra job so as I could give her things. Fact is, I wasn’t really me when I was doing all that – I was better than me.

    Well, I couldn’t keep that up. Not for the long haul. And so I’m back to who I was before, and I’m a whole lot happier with that. And Linnie, I don’t know why she stays, and I don’t know why either of us stay. It’s like what was on that banner the rat-faced boy was holding: sometimes our hearts aint really in it. And maybe we should just get the hell out.

    But then, when the nights are chill and the heating don’t work properly and we can’t afford to get it fixed, then we find each other in that big bed – that’s something, I can tell you. I don’t mean the fucking, which is good enough. What I mean is the holding each other as we fall into sleep, and holding each other so close and so tight that I don’t know where Linnie begins and I end. And we wake like that, too, and my hand tucked beneath her breast so as I can feel Linnie’s heart drumming slow and steady against the palm of my hand.

    I asked the kid if maybe he should be in school rather than on the street and I asked his mom that, too. She looked at me like I was an unpleasant smell, her nose all crinkled and her eyes squinting disapproval, and like that she reminded me of Linnie’s mom and her saying me and Linnie we didn’t belong together – and maybe we don’t belong, but we have those cold-night moments and they’re worth everything.

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