7 Replies to “Narrative Nudge ~ February 20, 2018”

  1. Jesus, but I don’t know. I never do. That’s what my mam was after telling me when I was a girl. Don’t know good sense from a pocketful of butter, she said. Maybe when you’re grown, and she shook her head and turned away.

    And they tell me often enough, the sensible voices in my head, and the voices that are not in my head tell me, too. He’s no good, they say, and he never was, and you could do better, and surely it’s about time. They’re talking about Ed and he’s daft as a two headed dog sometimes and he says he loves me to the moon and back and he holds up a sycamore seed pair and he smiles with his face all soft as second rise bread dough.

    I want to slap his face and spit on his new-polished shoes and stamp my feet and call him for all the names under the yellow sun. It’s what he deserves for what he did with Elsie Carr. And I’m not talking about when I was in the hospital with our Susie and Ed was seen dancing barefoot on the grass in Phoenix park, and dancing with Elsie in his arms and she was dressed in only a slip. That was bad enough and he said after he was sorry as dead puppies or wet Mondays. No I’m not talking about that.

    Not talking about our twentieth wedding anniversary neither and he sucked in air and swore and said twenty was longer than most men get for murder these days. And he slammed the door and didn’t come home for almost a week and when he did he smelled of piss and old beer, and he smelled of Elsie.

    How many times? That’s what my mam’d say if her mouth was not stuffed with black churchyard earth. How many times you going to take him back? And Ed breaks off one of the sycamore seeds and he throws it into the air and he watches it helicopters down to the floor of Macey’s pub and laughs like he’s a child again and his eyes light up blue as gaslight.

    Mam’d shake her head if she could see, her sensible head. And she’d ask, like she didn’t already know, if Ed had been with that Elsie again – like a fly to shit, she’d say and she’d straight off call for Jesus to forgive her the language and to forgive me the sense that I never had.

    And Ed, well, he’s been with Elsie again. He was seen in the town, holding her hand like he was sixteen all over and they were going into the Stella Theatre and he’d be kissing her in the dark of the back seats and not really watching the film that was showing.

    And now he’s saying he’s sorry – like before, sorry as picked meadow flowers or dead bees. And he says it’s me he loves, swears it, to the moon and the stars and back again, and he throws the last sycamore seed into the air and it flutters down – like a star falling, he says. And Jesus, but I don’t know what it is, and maybe mam was right about me and good sense being such strangers, but when it comes down to it – forgive me Jesus – I love the daft bastard and there it is.

      1. Thanks Patty. I see you have a new book out – that’s what brought me here again after so long away. I have ordered your book, but it looks like it will take a while to reach me.

        Glad you liked the flash… thought I might be a bit rusty. x

  2. He says sycamore wood is traditional. Used in the making of love-spoons, isn’t it. He smiles when he says it and he’s trying to melt her hardened heart. He thinks of it as hardened. He holds up a sycamore seed for her to see. Goes back hundreds of years, he tells her. And men give sycamore wood spoons to girls they love and it means something.

    She purses her lips; but there now, they’re not pursed for kissing and he can see that. Her face is set sour so as it’d curdle milk, that’s what he thinks. He sucks in air and starts over.

    And these sycamore seeds, well they’re not just any sycamore, no lovely, these are from the tree by the river. You know, the one with your name on it, cut into the bark. Remember. Come on, lovely, say you remember.

    The man behind the bar is drying glasses with a white tea towel and he’s been drying the one glass for the past few minutes because he’s listening to Arwal and to Bryn, though he’s trying not to look as though he is.

    We’re not sixteen no more, Arval, she spits.

    Sixteen they were once and Arwal sat in that sycamore by the river for two days cutting her name and his into the trunk, high up where no one else would see. It was their secret, and who knows but maybe it still is (except the barman now knows), and she said he was soft in the head when he showed her, but still it earned him a kiss – a single kiss, lips to lips and no tongues, she’d said. And it was worth the two days he’d spent in the tree.

    No, we’re not sixteen, Bryn. Not anything near.

    There’s grey in his eyes and he’s the shape of his da – the shape his da was when Arwal was sixteen – thicker about the middle and his back a little hunched. And his hair is as thin as breath or smoke and he makes a noise in the back of his throat when he bends to pick up dropped change or sycamore seeds spilled onto the ground. And Bryn is altered too, sagging where once there was lift, and her hair no longer soft and lines around her eyes and her mouth. Still pretty though, he thinks – when she’s smiling at least.

    Been round the block a few times we have, I’ll give you that. But love spoons is forever and your name and mine together is still on that sycamore tree by the river. I climbed up just to make sure… honest I did. Needed a ladder this time, but it’s still there if you look, Bryn.

    She looks at him and he can see what no one else can see – in her eyes. Something fleeting and wet and melting.

    Still together, he says again, his words blown into her ear soft as kisses and sweet nothings.

    She sighs and what there is in her sighing only she could say. Then she speaks again: Ah well, I’ll have a half of ale if you’re buying, she says.

    Aw Bryn, he says.

    And a bag of salt and vinegar crisps, she says.

    Arwal grins and he gestures to the man behind the bar his hand raised in triumph and in his hand the sycamore seed from the tree by the river.

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