8.17.2015 Journal Prompt

Photo by Vivian Maier
Photo by Vivian Maier

August 17, 2015: We pretended not to notice.

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One thought on “8.17.2015 Journal Prompt

  1. Mom used to smack the backs of our hands if we was sat at dinner and we started eating before everyone was served. She said it was bad manners and we had to wait. And we none of us was to put our elbows on the table – though dad sometimes did. And she reminded us to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ all the time and in the right places, and we wasn’t to interrupt grown-ups when they was speaking. All sorts of stuff mom taught us – and not to stare was one of ‘em.

    So when me and Kenny was walking to work one morning and there was this thing going on in the street, well, we pretended not to see. It was us showing good manners, cos Kenny’s mom was just like our mom in that regard. But pretending not to see ain’t exactly the same as not seeing and you don’t have to stare to get what’s what.

    At first I thought they was kissing or cuddling. You see that in public sometimes and even folk as should be decent do that. Kissing on street corners and all pressed up against each other like they might be the only people in the whole world or like they are all alone in their room with the door closed and the curtains drawn shut. They was standing so close and she had her back up against the wall and he was face to face with her. And like I said, I thought they was just loving.

    My mom kissed my dad before he left for work each morning and she kissed him again when he got home – but they wasn’t anything more than her lips near to his cheek and making a sound like small sucking or sipping. And she kissed his lips when he was laid out neat in the coffin and stroked his face and said he was her love – and that was all an acceptable expression of her feelings.

    These two in the street, well, I thought they was kissing and cuddling, there in the daylight street, and I thought it was a bit early for that. But turns out they wasn’t doing what I thought they was. When we got nearer we could hear that they was arguing, all his words hissed and spat and all hers, too. And in my head my mom telling me not to stare.

    Also in my head my mom was saying stuff about not airing your dirty linen in public. I didn’t know what linen was for the longest time, but somehow I understood what mom meant when she said that. And when dad got ill and it was cancer that he got, well, we wasn’t to tell no one anything more than he was sick. ‘Aint no one’s beeswax to know more than that.’

    And here was these two grown-ups, decent looking and dressed smart as paint, and not kissing and cuddling, but arguing about what he done with her sister and what she done with someone called Ed – which wasn’t anything my mom would approve of – and arguing loud enough everyone could hear, even them as was pretending not to hear and pretending not to see.

    You got to be a help in this world, mom said all the time, but she also said you can’t go interfering in other people’s business. And I was torn, between saying something about forgiveness to that man and that woman, and keeping quiet. So I stopped and pretended to be adjusting the strap on my shoe and I started praying, out loud, and it was the Lord’s prayer I said, and it was the bit about forgiving our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.

    Mom always said there was more than one way to skin a cat, and I reckon me saying that prayer was something like that. And they stopped with their arguing then, and he was blowing air and running his fingers through his hair; and she was saying how she wanted to start over and there was stops and starts in her voice and tears maybe. And Kenny pulled me away, and we hurried our step cos being late was another thing our moms taught us was wrong – even if it was only late for work we would be.

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