Posted on September 3, 2015September 3, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair9.3.2015 Journal Prompt Image from The Wire September 3, 2015: In the shadows… Like this:Like Loading... Related
2 Replies to “9.3.2015 Journal Prompt”
Men can be broken easy as plates or cups. I know that. Broken with a word even or a look. Oh they let on that they is tough as old boots or hard like nails, and they pretend like nothing don’t bother ‘em and they’s always shrugging and saying it don’t nevermind and it’s all one to ’em. But I know they can be broken just like a child when it sees it’s momma bruised and the child breaks a little.
And plates and cups can be put back together. Sometimes they can. With glue and if you’re careful ’bout it. Momma done that. There’s a cup on the windowsill in the kitchen and she done mended that cup, glued it all together a piece at a time, like it was a difficult jigsaw, done that when it got broke. It was her favourite cup, she said, and it’s all covered in blue flowers and it’s pretty even with the cracks running through everything and the glue showing. Yes, and so it’s put back together, but it don’t ever hold coffee nor tea and it never could again. Mom has cold dirt in the cup now and she’s growing some green herbs in it and it’s a whole different sort of pretty; so plates and cups can be put back together but they aint the same as they was when you do.
And pop, he’s broken and he’s put back together and that’s about the shape and the size of things. And momma looks at him like he’s a lost puppy or kitten and she’s real sorry for him. I can see she wants to touch his face but she holds back and touches her own cheek instead. That’s not like it used to be. And pop’s broken by what momma done with a man called Ed, which they don’t think I understand, though I seen it with my own eyes.
Ed and he’s handsome as a film star and his hair all combed and cut nice and he one day said to momma as she was sweet as sugar. And momma blushed to her boots and she said he should maybe call round to the house when no one was by. And Ed did call, only I was hiding in the kitchen cupboard and my dipping my fingers into the peanut butter jar and hoping not to be caught.
Ed kissed my momma and I could see bits of that kiss through the cupboard keyhole, and I heared momma make noises like words without their beginnings or ends. And Ed put his hands under momma’s dress and she let him. And all the kitchen was the sound of blowing air and heavy lifting and my fingers was sticky with the peanut butter.
Then over dinner that night I said as how Ed came round and it was real nice of him to do that. And pop just looked at momma and she blushed like before and then not blushing but her face white as clouds or Monday-washed sheets.
And pop hit momma, just the once, and she’s a bruise on her cheek, and pop all broken into pieces and put back together different. And momma don’t know what she can ever do to make things right again, which I could tell her if she asked and I’d say as she never could make it good as before – just like that blue flowered cup that she’s growing herbs in on the kitchen windowsill and it never can hold coffee nor tea again.
Oh, it was years back. I’d have to think how many cos it aint stamped on me like it is on him. Years back and yet I can see in his face sometimes how it’s like it just happened. He’s all crumpled in his face and he don’t take a care of hisself. I heared someone say as he needs a good shake and he needs to just get on.
I’m talking ‘bout Lou and how he is these days. Which is to say he ain’t all he should be. And I love him to bits and I love him more than breath or beans. And I think I’ve always loved him, from far off, years back and all the way to now. ‘Course, back then he wouldn’t give me the time of day, not when there was prettier girls all lined up outside his door and all wanting his attention.
Then his mom died. Sudden as thunderclaps it seemed to us and it seemed that way to Lou. Oh, there’d been hard words thrown in that house, but that’s so in a lot of houses I could name. And doors slammed and everything quiet for days, till the make-up sex and then the whole house rocking and the air all hot and blowing. But there was something different in Lou’s house and his mom hanged herself one day.
Lou was different after that. As different as chalk is from cheese. And the girls all weeping over him at first and then not there at all. He let himself go, see, that’s what the older women in the street said and they said it was a crying shame and his mom’s name was a cold hard stoney thing in their mouths for what she done to that boy.
And I watched him over the years, watched him lose himself. And there was an ache in me, neath my left breast, where my heart is. And don’t the years slip through the fingers easy as water cupped in the hand, and one day I found Lou drunk and sitting by hisself in a bar. He didn’t know me and I almost didn’t know him.
I sat with him awhile and I drank some and he looked deep into his beer, like he was thinking of throwing hisself in. And I looked for things to say to him, things that might mean something all these years after. I got nothing.
When the bar closed, I helped Lou home – cos he needed help. Inside his house the air was thick as soup and a smell of sour and bitter over everything. He lived by hisself by this time, in the same house. I took him through to the only room with a bed and I laid him down. He was so deep in sleep and the light from the street lit up the room and like that I could see the Lou he had once been, could see the boy there in the man with his hair all anyhow and his face all unshaven and smelling of cigarettes and booze. And I was come over all silly, and I leaned in and kissed him while he slept. Maybe a hundred times I kissed him.
I don’t know if I’m a comfort to him these days, but he says I am. And he don’t drink like he did when I found him and he talks to me some ’bout his mom and what she was like. And Lou remembers stuff he thought he’d forgot – like the taste of something his mom used to make or something she said or the sound of her breath when she held him. And he don’t have a hard word for me, not never, and he don’t slam doors and he says as how I am pretty as peaches, which I know I ain’t but it’s nice to have it said all the same. And though he don’t care of hisself like he should, and is not all that he should be, still I do for him some and like that we rub along.