Posted on September 29, 2015September 29, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair9.29.2015 Journal Prompt Photo by Vivian Maier September 29, 2015: The first time I… Like this:Like Loading... Related
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We is not one thing nor another, I reckon. Rather we is all things at once. I learned that before. When I was knee high to a duck, as my mam used to say. And I was sitting on the back step, sitting in the late afternoon sun, and stroking a cat. And it was the neighbour’s cat. Mam said we wasn’t to have no cat of our own, not nohow, not on account of they is dirty critters and they make a house smell of pee. And I was stroking its head and it was purring like a soft motor and pressing itself warm into my palm, like it couldn’t get enough, and its eyes was closed, and I seen mam like that once when da was kissing her, seen it through the secret keyhole of her bedroom and they didn’t know I was watching ‘em.
I was thinking how pretty it was, the cat, and how it was nothing but love and how mam was wrong ‘bout not wanting to have one in the house, when all of a sudden the cat’d had enough and it swiped at my hand quick as switchblades, and it drew blood with its claws. Jees, but I went from loving that cat to hating it all in a moment. And that was the first time I understood – how we can be all things at once, loving and hating, soft and sharp, kind and unkind.
Lottie, she’s maybe fifteen, which is a year older than me, and she says I’m cute as a puppy or a kitten, and she strokes my hair through her fingers and she says she loves me once and she loves me twice and she loves more than she loves little white mice. She’s meaning the chocolate mice that I got her from the shop on the corner – tuppence for a quarter bag and Mr Kendall in the shop, he twists the corners of the paper bag so it’s like it has ears, little mice ears.
Lottie eats one white chocolate mouse and then kisses me once – it’s a game she’s playing, and I lick her lips and taste the chocolate for myself, and though the milky taste is smaller than melting the mouse on my own tongue, it somehow tastes sweeter. Lottie has the mice all tipped out in the lap of her dress and there’s maybe ten and she says each one is a kiss.
Then, when she’s done and she says she’s eaten ‘em too quick and she feels a little sick, and I’m dizzy with her kisses, well, then she stops stroking my hair and she says enough is enough and maybe more than enough. And she turns to Eddie Waters and he has a bag of strawberry pips, a quarter bag with the corners twisted like ears, and there’s maybe a hundred or two hundred tiny sweet pips in that bag and Lottie eats one and kisses Eddie, and I think then that each of my white mice should have been ten kisses.
And like that I see as how Lottie is just the same as that neighbour’s cat – all soft and purring one minute and then cutting me with its claws the next. And inside I’m all hurt and disappointed and heartsore – and I’m cross with myself too, cos I shouldn’t be any of those things, not when I know what’s what and I know we is all things at once: soft and sharp, loving and hating, kind and unkind.