Posted on September 7, 2015September 7, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair9.7.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Green Card September 7, 2015: She wanted him to know. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Words have a power that is greater than bullets or bombs. They have a power strong as prayers or spells and the power to change everything. In the beginning was the word – I read that somewhere, or heard it read out, in a voice that was listened to. And in the end there will be the word also, for words last.
That is why I do what I do. That is why I write words down, special words, writing them small as whispers, for words do not need to be shouted to be heard. Writing them down on small bits of paper – the torn margins of newspapers or books, or on the backs of bus tickets to nowhere, or sometimes in the hidden folds of his skin when he sleeps.
And old bus tickets and torn scrap paper tucked into his pockets, or slipped behind the cards in his wallet so they will fall out when he least expects them. And ‘love’ is one of the words and ‘heart’ and ‘kiss’, and a hundred other words besides. And every word is true and doesn’t he tell me as much.
‘I love you,’ he says, his breath coming quick and hot, and ‘honest and with all my heart,’ he says and ‘let me kiss you’ – and he wants to kiss me standing on the tops of buildings where everyone can see, or on the high of mountains, or on the wing like birds. He says that. And he says he doesn’t care who knows it or sees – and when he says that it is both true and a lie, true for as long as he says it and a lie when he is gone.
And ‘forever’ written on a passport sized picture of me and I sew that into the lining of his jacket as he sleeps. And ‘fuck’ on a hotel receipt and I wrap that up in his handkerchief and put it back into his pocket. And my name scribbled on the nape of his neck, just under the hairline and using a pen that says it is permanent.
He stirs and he turns to me, his hands reaching for my breasts, and he says again that he loves me and he does not know how he gets through the days without me and ‘one day,’ he says, ‘one day’ – but he does not add any more words to his one day and I do not know what he means for us on that day. But his one day will come, as sure as eggs or sunrises.
He leaves me when it gets dark and he says he doesn’t want to and he says it is hard to go and it’s like he is leaving a part of himself behind. Words, words, words.
I tell him it’s ok, really it is, and I tell him to go, and he mustn’t be late, I tell him. Late for her, for his wife who is expecting him home. And he says again he doesn’t want to go, how can he, not now, not ever, but still he goes. And checks to see that he is not leaving anything of himself behind and does not know that he takes parts of me with him – takes my words, all my words, written so she might discover them and fall under their spell, and fall to prayer and hope, and hopes can be dashed and the word all changed, and his ‘one day’ could now be ‘this day’, and maybe, just maybe, he won’t ever go from me again after that day, and ‘love’ and ‘heart’ and ‘forever’ can be true when he says them and even when he doesn’t.
Her momma don’t know. And she can’t be telling her. Momma wouldn’t understand. She’d say it was ‘gainst The Bible and she’d quote scripture ‘gainst Dolly and take her to church straightway to ask forgiveness and to be made clean again. And ever after momma’d be watching her, eyes sharp as pins on the back of Dolly’s neck, and asking her questions all the time, pick-axe questions, and measuring her answers against all the sins there ever was. So Dolly don’t feel inclined to tell her momma.
Instead, Dolly writes her momma long letters and she fills those letters with the things her momma wants to hear. Dolly says she is working hard and being careful with her money and taking care of herself. And yes, she’s going to church of a Sunday and the minister there is kind and he has silver in his hair and his sermons are hard as hammers on the air.
And there’s a boy – there has to be a boy – and Dolly met him at church and his name’s Isaac and he’s all kinds of good, and clean, and he don’t even hold her hand ‘less she says he can. And Isaac’s momma and papa invite her home for dinner of a Sunday and they fuss over Dolly like she is a daughter and they tell her she is pretty as peaches, and they say grace before eating, and Isaac’s momma’s cornbread is sweet, but not so sweet as Dolly’s own momma’s.
Dolly has to remember the things she’s written in those letter, so she don’t make a slip and she don’t make the lie all bright and visible to her momma, like a burning bush. And sure Isaac kisses her, but only on the church steps where God and every man and his dog can see, and kisses her cheeks only, and he says he loves her to the moon and the stars and back.
Be careful, Dolly, her momma writes back. And she says boys is sometimes and too often only after one thing in this world and once they has got it then they look to get it elsewhere. Dolly’s momma don’t say what ‘it’ is, but Dolly has a understanding. And Dolly says her momma don’t have to worry none on that account.
And Mr Thomas at Thomas and Thayne’s solicitors is pleased with Dolly’s work and he says she might one day be promoted and sit neat and upright outside his office and run to his beck and call. And yes, that’d mean a little extra in her purse at the end of a week and maybe enough she could send some home then and momma could get a train ticket and come visit.
Dolly sucks in air when she writes that bit in her letter, cos she don’t know what ever she’d do if her momma did buy a train ticket and want to meet Isaac and his momma and papa, and the minister with silver in his hair, and Mr Thomas at Thomas and Thayne’s.
Barbara creeps up on Dolly and she kisses her and she pours a glass of wine with bubbles in, and she touches Dolly’s hair and where her heart is. And she says how she loves Dolly to the moon and the stars and back, and she reads over Dolly’ shoulder and she reads what she has written to her momma. And Barbara nods approval for she writes the same letter to her own momma and like that the world keeps turning and Barbara and Dolly don’t need to tell their love to no one and like that it isn’t even a sin.