Monday, July 4, 2011

In the Sauce

It wasn't the hard slaps, not even the one that pushed her tooth nearly through her lip, or the purple eye that turned yellow and light green from the hard back hand when it turned out his knuckles were bleeding.   It wasn't the mornings when he'd be sitting reading the paper,
relaxed as a big cat and suddenly turn the page onto something, a score, a statement, even once an ad for men's underwear and get annoyed and smash a mug of coffee against the wall.  No, the flesh wounds, hers and his, were easily iced, and coffee didn't stain if you got to it right away.  It wasn't even the aftermath of such times, when he'd sulk and blame, blame whatever he'd done on how much he loved her, or the tone of her voice or the way the
whole world was just unbelievably stupid. It wasn't the hours of tears,his head in her lap, or the way she had to tell him then,  over and over again, that he was really a good man and he should not buy a gun, or take a butcher knife, or stick his head in the oven, or jump off a bridge. After fifteen years all of it blurred into one monotonous familiar hum.   It was, after all,the sauce.  He said, it needed " something else" and she realized so did she.   

This " post-card" story was published back in February 2011

The Sparkle and the Shame

It was Mrs. Dayle who first gave me a term for the way I thought - "picture words".
"Look out the window and tell me what you see." Hands waved around the room, "the sky," "a bird", "the flag"... and then Mrs. Dayle said "I see red, white and blue, our country watching over us and our need to watch over her." I fell in love right then for the first time in third grade.
And so, when we were assigned a story I wanted it to be perfect, dripping with picture words for Mrs. Dayle, of the slate blue hair who perfumed the space between she and I with the soft scent of talcuum powder. Our assignment was to write a short story about a color. I picked blue of course in her honor. My father, passing by as I stared at the ceiling thinking, added that blue didn't always have to be a color but could be a feeling. I wrote a story about a little girl who was orphaned and missing her father on her birthday, "desperate in the 'slashing rain' to share one more cake with him" she cries herself to sleep, only to wake and find a sodden box on the front porch, when she slowly opens the lid there inside is a pink spun sugar cake with the words Happy Birthday Baby.
Mrs. Dayle read my story aloud and said that I had a 'rare talent'. Because my father had told me that a color could be a feeling I felt only shame as Mrs. Dayle's slate blue eyes sparkled, mine lowered to the scuff marks in waxed tiles on the school-room floor.