Posted on August 24, 2015August 24, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair8.24.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Vivre Sa Vie August 24, 2015: They were never really friends. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Mam said I was not to come into the house and Kit wasn’t to go in neither and I was to see to that. Mam said we should run to the shop and get us a packet of crisps or a sherbet dab and she pressed two brass thrupenny bits into my hand and she said we was to take our time in the running there and back and her face was straight and serious when she said it.
Mrs Wills had come knocking and when mam had answered the door there was no need for words between them. Mam hurried us outside and said all that about us keeping away from the house. Then she invited Mrs Wills inside, like they were friends and mam offered a cup of tea and a bit of shortbread or cake to go with the tea.
Kit was for going to the shop like mam said we should. He had his mind set on a quarter bag of jelly babies the paper ears of the bag twisted so that it was like the misshaped lumpen face of a cat. I hissed him to quiet and we crouched down below the open window of our front room and we listened to mam and Mrs Wills pretending to be friends.
‘A wee drop milk and two sugars, please and thank you.’
And we could hear the spoon against the side of the cup and it made a small tinny music like a bell ringing, and Mrs Wills cleared her throat but did not say anything more for a minute or two. I could picture ‘em nibbling at their bits of shortbread like fine ladies and not trying not to spill a crumb onto mam’s floor and the clock tut-tutting on the mantelpiece and the sunlight cutting the room into dark and bright.
Kit tugged at my hand, but I hissed for him to be still and I made a show of cocking my ear so he would understand.
Then Mrs Wills did speak and the first that she said was she was sorry. Mam kept silent so that Mrs Wills’ sorry hung in the air like a rainbow-thin soapy bubble waiting to burst. I could hear the clock still tutting or I imagined I could, and mam’s two thruppenny bits clicked together in my hand.
‘I’m sorry,’ Mrs Wills said again. ‘I’m sorry to you, Mrs Thom, and I don’t know what you must feel or think. And all I can say is I’m sorry. And I been praying on my knees in the church, praying not for forgiveness but for you Mrs Thom.’
Mam sucked in air and did not at first give words to the blowing out of that air.
Kit was restless. He didn’t understand all Mrs Wills’ talk of sorry and praying. His thoughts were on a white paper bag with the corners pinched and twisted and inside maybe twenty jelly babies, yellow and green and red, and their bodies dusted with powdered sugar. But I understood. Mrs Wills was talking about my dad and what she done with him and what he done with her and it was a sin before God is what mam said it was, and Mrs Wills was welcome to him, mam said, and she did not let the tears fall and she put steel into her voice.
And didn’t Mrs Wills have a husband of her own, mam wanted to know. And what was he in all of this? And what was our dad thinking? And what were they both thinking?
Mrs Wills said again she was sorry.
Mam said our dad was thinking with his prick, which was as near to swearing as I ever heard mam; and that was just like a man, she said. And she said what’s done is done and there was no undoing it. And she said to Mrs Wills that her sorry didn’t count for nothing in this world or the next, and not even our dad saying he was sorry would take away what they done.
And Mrs Wills set down her tea cup on its saucer and set down the saucer on mam’s table. And she cleared her throat again and again she said nothing. She got up and left, and mam didn’t show her out. And Kit pulled at my hand and this time I let him bring me all the way to the shop and I bought a bag of jelly babies, too, and me and Kit we sat in the street and we bit all the heads off laying the jellybaby bodies in a broken line on the pavement.