Posted on September 14, 2015September 14, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair9.14.2015 Journal Prompt Image from The Fugitive September 14, 2015: When he returned… Like this:Like Loading... Related
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He was always different from the rest of us. Even in school. Ed had his nose in a book all the time and we went to him if there was things we wanted to know. We went to him even before we went to our moms and dads, or even our teachers. We called him Book End.
I guess I was the one as knowed him best of all. We was together always in the last year of school, me and Ed, and he’d be reading outta some book and I’d be listening. The sound of Ed’s voice was like music so that it made no nevermind that I didn’t understand the words of the song. And I’d sit close to him, touching, measuring my breath ‘gainst his, breathing in time with him, so close maybe some of what Ed was’d rub off on me. And when I asked if he loved me, he said sure he did, and he paused in his reading and kissed me and touched me under my clothes and we was all breathless and moaning. And I like that I was the one as knowed him best of all.
He went away at the end of school. He didn’t make no promises to be true or asking for me to be true neither. He just upped and left. I saw him off at the bus station and he was kissing me and saying I was pretty and he wanted to remember me that way. I played ’em words over and over after he was gone, trying to fit ’em into something they was not.
That first year he didn’t write or phone or nothing, and my best friend, Bliss, she said fuck him and she said I should move on and she set me up with this boy called Danny. On the first date I drank so much I couldn’t stand and Danny let me sleep the night at his place and he was saintly good and didn’t take advantage. In the morning he was nice as nurses and he brought me coffee in bed and he talked enough for the both of us, which was ok cos I was feeling like I was doing wrong being with him.
Did he tell you to wait? Did he say he’d come back for you? Jesus, Ellie, you got shit for brains and no mistake. Bliss said I needed Danny or someone like him. Someone to mess with for a night and then I’d see things a whole lot clearer. Half way through the second year, and Ed still hadn’t sent a word, well, I fucked Danny then and he thought he’d won the lottery and he said he wanted to be with me always and Bliss was right ’bout seeing things different.
Me and Danny, we married soon enough and we got a kid now, a girl, and she’s got my pretty they say. And life just moves on, like wheels on a rolling truck turning, and I forget the names of the teachers at school, some of ’em, and what’s past is all blurry. And I reckon as I’m lucky to have Danny and he’s good and all, and my momma likes him even if she says he won’t never set the world on fire. She says he’s safe and sure and that’s better than anything else you could ask for. And I nod to what momma says and I let myself gain a few pounds and I don’t care.
Only, then Ed came back. One day and out of the blue, he did. And I heard it somewhere, so it was talked about. And Bliss said he was asking after how I was doing and she looked at me to see what I felt ’bout that. And she could see. Clear as stars or moons. And she shrugged and said why not. Only she said I should be careful and not go breaking Danny’s heart.
And I was careful and Ed was changed and I didn’t know him at all, that’s how it felt. And he said I was just the same and pretty like he remembered. And he told me to close my eyes, which I did, and he kissed me and he touched me just under my clothes, and I broke away and I swore at him and I said he’d spoiled everything and I said did he expect me to just wait for him. He said he didn’t know, didn’t know nothing ‘cept what was in books, and he said he was a fool in all things else, and him saying that made me all silly inside and like I didn’t want to ever be apart from him, and it hurt to be me then and I said he should go, which was the right thing to say even though it felt all wrong saying it.
Shit, I don’t know. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe I shoulda stayed away and going back was all wrong. But I hadda – I hadda see the place once more. It was like it was my where my roots was, as if a part of me was fixed there and I hadda see it to know it was real and not just something in my head.
I asked the bus driver to let me off on the nowhere edge of town. I didn’t want to be seen and recognized and word about my coming back spreading all ways. I wanted to come upon everything slow and at walking pace. I wanted to see if it was as I remembered it. Jeez, I wasn’t even sure I’d not turn right round and get the first bus outta there. Maybe it was all just so much shit and I’d been remembering it wrong all these years.
I told Billy I was going back and he asked what for and I shrugged and said I didn’t know. He said as how I’d been in such a hurry to get outta there and he said there warn’t no sense in going back. He said I din’t belong there no more and he was usually right ‘bout things. Still I needed to go back.
Yes, I needed to. Fuck but it hurts to say that and to come close to why I was really back. I needed to. It was an ache in me and an itch, and though my mom always said I hadda try not to scratch a itch if ever I had one, here I was.
The place was smaller, is what I could see. Smaller than in memory, and the streets narrower and everything looking like a dream that’s been trodden on and it’s all crumpled and dirty. Billy had warned me, and he’d said as how it might spoil things, in my head spoiled.
I booked into a hotel and the girl behind the desk asked if I was the same Ed as went away years back. And she said her name was Bliss and we talked ’bout about old times and about people we knew back then.
Then the next day I was at the library, and seeing if it was like I recalled, and it wasn’t, not any of it and not no how, and I was thinking Billy was maybe right and I was weighing up how quickly I could get outta there.
‘Fuck me, Ed, but you came back!’
And I could feel something pulling inside of me then and not just pulling, but floating, like a bee caught in a jar and it aint got no room to fly in and it hangs in the air and does not know which way to go.
It was Ellie and I knew before ever turning to see her. And she was all the reason I hadda go back. And I knew that then. And she was just the same. Or, no, she was different, but the thing in me was just the same, and I couldn’t get straight in my head why ever I’d left.
‘Is it you?’ she said again and her voice was all cracked. ‘Is it?’
And I told her to close her eyes, and to trust me, and she made a noise in the back of her throat like she could never trust me again. But she closed her eyes anyway. And I kissed her and touched under her blouse, my hand pressed flat against her skin, feeling new folds there. And I held that kiss and it was like in memory, the only thing that was still the same.
Ellie stood back from me and she swore some and she said my coming back was too late and she said I should go. There was no certainty in her saying that, but I could see that me staying would hurt just the same as me going. I said I was a fool and I didn’t know what was what ‘bout nothing. And she said again that I should go, and I knew she was right and I knew that all of it was a great big mistake, and maybe my whole life a mistake and one that could not now ever be put right and Ellie saying to go was all the proof of that.