Posted on July 6, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair7.6.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Breathless July 6, 2015: Some mornings… Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Some mornings I lie awake with my eyes closed, just listening to the day. Some mornings there’s a song playing and I can hear Emma moving about the apartment and a lightness to her movements like dancing so that I know there’s a song in her head, too. The windows are thrown wide and all the sounds of outside are inside – birdsong and the horns of cars, which do not seem cross on these mornings. And the laughter of children bouncing like a ball off all the walls of my room. These are the best mornings.
Emma is in the kitchen and she’s making coffee so that there’s a smell to the day, too – instant coffee, but the smell is still there, sharp and familiar. And there’s bread baking in the oven and I can smell that also, and it reminds me of my mom, and with my eyes closed I could be a child again waking up in a bed half the size of the one I am in and my dad jingling his keys and leaving the house to go to his work, closing the door soft behind him so as not to wake us all – though we are awake with the music of his keys.
With such a start to the morning, I know the day will be bearable and I can face whatever it has to throw at me – the queue at the job exchange, the supermarket reductions bin holding no food, and Emma looking drawn and thin as sticks and still managing to smile on those mornings. Even the voice of my dad I can take, my dad telling me I should get a job and that I’ve got responsibilities now I am grown, and I know that without him having to say it and I can take it without my fingers closing to a hard tight fist against him – on those bright singing mornings.
But those mornings are few and fewer and far between. Instead the day starts slow, if it starts at all; starts without a sound, like I have woke up dead. And Emma isn’t there and I don’t know where she is. Not a song but the sound of a cracked cup marks most days – the noise a cup makes when you put it down a little too hard and you know there is something not right in the dullness of the sound and you know it is cracked even if you don’t know where exactly; it must be cracked for there is no other explanation.
And Emma is not there and my head is thick as clouds and I try to think clear, try to reach through the fog to memory, for there must be an answer there to the riddle of Emma being gone. My mouth is dry – ‘as a badger’s arse,’ my dad says and my mom scolds him for being so coarse. And there’s a tingling to the ends of my fingers and toes – ‘rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, and she shall have music wherever she goes,’ sings my mom, and somehow it makes sense her singing that, even though I still don’t know why Emma is not there and I cannot think where she has gone.
And I shake inside and out, wondering if all my mornings from here on in will be cracked in the same way.
I sleep with the windows open these days and the curtains thrown wide, too. It doesn’t matter what the weather holds. The air is sometimes so chill I can see my breath and frost rimes the sheets; or it rains hard as nails and water pools on the floor below the window, running clear as tears; or the night is so hot that it sweats and flies bite me all over in the dark. Still I insist on the windows being open – just in case.
And I wake some mornings and she is there. I swear she is. I can see her against the light, the outline of her, out of focus a little and like a dream that you look back to when sleep is broken. She is there and she is watching me. I feel it as well as see it.
I say her name, testing it on my tongue, tasting it. I say it over and over, like a litany prayer that waits for an answer from her. She does not say a word, just looks at me from out of the light, so that afterwards I do not trust to what I saw – afterwards, when I am telling Monika.
I try to tell Monika how it really was. I call her up and I say we should meet for coffee. ‘Yes, at the Municipal House Café, where else? About eleven. It’s important.’
I can hear her holding her breath on the other end of the phone. We have done this before, maybe a hundred times. We are known at the café and there is no need to give over our order. Monika agrees to come – she is resigned.
‘It happened again,’ I tell her.
She strokes my hand, as though it is a sleeping pet laid down on the table. And she says she understands, which I do not think she does. Monika says it is not a good thing to always sleep with the window open. She says to do so all year round is not healthy. ‘I wonder how you sleep,’ she says, ‘or if you sleep at all, which would explain what you saw.’
The coffee tastes bitter and sticks to the roof of my mouth like chocolate.
‘It’s been almost two years, now,’ Monika says.
She does not say more. She does not say that it has been two years since Žofie was run over in the street. That she was pronounced dead before even she arrived at the hospital. Two years since she was buried in Olšany, in the grave I visit most weekends.
Monika some days takes me back to her apartment on Čapkova. She makes me soup and feeds me as though I am a child. Then she lies down with me on her bed. She has closed the window and drawn shut the curtains against the day and against ghosts. She undresses me, slowly picking open the buttons of my shirt and removing my shoes and my trousers. Then she undresses, too, and like that we fold into sleep – or I sleep at least and Monika watches me.
And it is late whenever I wake and the darkness has crept into the room and for a moment I do not know where I am or when I am. And Monika is there, warm and real. She leans into me and she kisses me, her tongue briefly in my mouth, and then she says my name and she says ‘there now’ and ‘there now’. And in those ‘there now’ moments everything is alright, and I draw breath so deep that I feel I am returned to who I am.
‘You should move in with me,’ says Monika, saying it so lightly she might mean it, and maybe I should, but then where would Žofie’s ghost go in those mornings when she would visit me? I dress with my back to Monika and creep away from her bed and through the city streets back to my own place.
Lindsay! I love waking up and finding these new pieces. Don’t you have a collection coming soon or something?
Thanks for still reading, Patty. I go on plugging away with these things, trying to reach my target (who’d be stupid enough to set a target of a thousand flashes in less than 3 years?!) – a bit OCD in that way, I think. As for a collection coming, I should put more energy into making that happen, I guess. I have at least got something out there looking for a publisher to say yes to. That’s all I can say at the moment.
That’s a big accomplishment, isn’t it? That’s about where I am now. Waiting. Hoping. Fingers crossed. Slowly working on new stuff. Heading to Durham in the fall for NAWE. Any close you are close by?
I should also have asked here after your writing and maybe something new from you coming out soon? I am so looking forward to that. Wishing you well –