Monday, February 06, 2006

Home for our Meteors- Part 2 chapter 5

MANDY
A long time ago I watched my father bleed, he lay on the pavement outside our house, one arm wrapped around his belly the other reaching up at me. The night was light, there were stars. His face was pale, but he didn’t look afraid. I stood above him, maybe two steps away, I didn’t want to step closer and kick him. I just wanted to watch him go. So that’s what I did. It took a while, and he made a lot of noise, he told me who’d put the knife in him, how one they’d stuck it into the left side of his gut they had yanked it across all the way to his left side and there they pulled it out.

“It hurts more coming out then it does going in.,” he said.

I stared back at him and tried to count the beads of sweat on his head.

“I loved your mother and she loved me, our whole fucking lives this was true,” his voice creaking but clear, “Even when I did what I did for all those years, and now even when she’s done what she’s done tonight. It was all love.”

Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, big blobs of sweat dropping one by one into his eyes. I tried listening to my numbers, but hear only his voice in my head. I look down to my shoes, my blue Mary Janes, they have dirt on their toes, and some of father’s blood is heading towards them. I take a step back, don’t want them stained.

“We loved you, and your brother, god rest his soul. Maybe I’ll get to see him now, can you imagine that Mandy, me and Paul in heaven, playing football like we did when he was alive.”
He takes a gasp, and reaches out for me suddenly, his right hand flapping in the air like a chicken being held upright by its head. I make no effort to go towards the chicken. I don’t like chickens. They’re noisy and smelly, they taste funny, but their skin is okay if a little chewy. After a few seconds his hand falls down and slaps the pavement, makes a real smacking sound like the pavement is made of flesh and bone. The pavement doesn’t feel anything though, not anymore. It’s been trod on one too many times.

Father’s eyes closed but he carries on talking, faster now, it’s harder to hear. “Mandy my darling, my angel, let me touch you one last time. It’s okay I won’t hurt you. I just want to feel your skin against mine. Please Mandy, my darling angel. You’ve been everything I could wish for in a daughter. I love you and if I’d had been a better man, then I’d have been the father you deserved.”

He doesn’t talk again. His breathing slows down, and eventually an ambulance arrives. I think Mr Paisley from across the road called it; he’s been watching us from his window all this time. The men from the ambulance don’t help father to much they touch his neck, and look at the hole the bloods been coming from. One of them takes me by the hand and leads me away, as we walk down the middle of the street, I wonder if we’ll get run over because the cars go fast down this road, they go so fast you don’t always see them until it’s to late. Then I turn my head, and see my Daddy for the last time.

I remember this as I lower my self into a hot bath to soak for a while. Small beads of blood trickle out from inside me, and they grow, and they fade in the water. Dried bits, fall off my skin and hair, they lift up to the top of water and learn to float. I count them, thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen. I close my eyes and slip down underneath the warmth, feel the water rise over my head, let it soak my hair thoroughly, until only the tip of my face is above the surface, along with my feet and knees. I hear the workers shouting amongst themselves, the harvest will be a struggle this year. Mark says the new pickers are lazy and possibly stupid, for some of them English is there national language. For all he knows they might be doctors in their own country, but in his they are pickers of fruit and vegetables, and not very good ones to be sure. This is what he says over dinner when he thinks I’m not listening. When he sees my eyes glaze over and I’m playing with my food, he talks in detail about his work, his day, and his thoughts on it all. As if he’s clarifying rather then explaining them, he doesn’t expect an answer, nor does he get one. I don’t reply, I don’t know how, if I do speak to him over dinner I wouldn’t stop until breakfast. When I sit back up in the bath I look at the hot and cold taps. Behind them are bath toys for my babies, the last few days I’ve been playing with them as I sit here, for hours and hours. It’s better then reading, better the bleeding, better then what’s next but not as good as sex. I don’t think, it’s been six months since me and Mark made love, we didn’t want to take risks with the baby, although the doctor did say it was fine. The truth is Mark was a little relieved; he’s never been easily aroused, at least with me. Always wanted to protect me, care for me, to make sure I had everything I needed, but didn’t want to abuse me. Which is what he thinks he does, when he puts his dick inside me.

Half an hour later I dry myself, sitting on the cotton covered seat, my knees tremble as a draft comes in though the window, I hear the sound of Mark driving his tractor into the shed. I rub my legs with the towel, press down hard enough for the skin to turn red, and then watch as the white returns, before folding the towel over the radiator. Getting dressed on the bathroom rug, looking into the mirror as I pull fresh knickers on, I see that I’ve aged since I saw my father die, I am, in fact the age, my mother was when she gutted him. This is hard to except, hard for a blink of the eye, then I shrug knowing that her and me now have something in common, we both lost our children. Even if I can never think of anything else between us, now I have this, and I forgive her. Pants still half on, half off, with my hair a tangled mess, my breast naked and pointing down. I forgive my mother. It’s not how these things are supposed to be done, you’re supposed to have thought about it, thought about what was done, truth is it hasn’t crossed my mind for years, I did my thinking some time ago.

So my clothes on and forgiveness is given as I open the bathroom door. Head slowly down the stairs; my legs are wobbly and sore, use the banister to stop the fall. As I see the hallway I see the front door being unlocked from the other side, and I breath deeply. Mark comes in, clothed in green and brown, covered in mud, covered in a days work. As he takes his jacket off, he sees me standing there and he smiles. A smile that can still melt me to oil, that will bubble and eventually burn.

He carries on taking off his coat, “hello sweetie, have you had a bath, good, you needed that, and it’ll probably make you feel so much better. Are you about to make dinner? Because maybe you don’t need to do that, maybe we order in, or go out, or I could make something. Just a thought. I’ll cook something, you can watch, and if it looks like I’m going to do something wrong.”

I reach the bottom of the steps, and a smile makes its way across my face, “I’ll cook. You watch,” I go into the kitchen.

“What?” he says stunned.

“I’ll cook. You watch.” I say again as I reach the fridge.

“Okay then honey, I’ll watch, you cook, but if you need any help, well just say so,”

“I won’t need to help,” I watch him out of the corner of my eye, as he makes his way across the kitchen, his mouth is open, and I think his hand is shaking a little. It might just be the cold. I he’s happy. “But thanks anyway, how was work?”

“It was good, I suppose, I laid it out for Simon that he has to get the others into shape, think it sunk in this time. I told you about the new kids, right?”

“You know you did honey, when you came for lunch,”

“Right, right,” he says but doesn’t sound as if he can remember.

“So you think they’ll have it done before the morning?”

“Well I’d be surprised if they didn’t, should be done already, I guess they might need until 8 or 9, who can tell with these people, pisses me off. You know that.”

“I do,” I’m taking the vegetables, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and spinach to the sink where I will wash them; while I’m there I’ll fill four pans with water. “Sweetie, can we talk about something.”
He answers quickly “Of course,” and I wonder if the absurdity of my question is totally lost on him.

“I want to be able to give you everything you need, we can give up on a family, that’s not an option anymore.”

“There are other options,”

“Not for me to have a child of my own. I don’t want to talk about the other things, right now, because children…well that’s always been what I wanted, I want to give you what you want, or at least let you have what you want,” I turn the four gas burners on.

“You are what I want,”

“That’s sweet, that’s incredibly sweet, but that’s true,” I turn the taps on and start to wash the vegetables, “Now you have to answer a few questions for me.”

“Sure, anything you want,”

“I want to know if you’ve ever slept with anyone else while we’ve been together,”

“No of course not,” I don’t watch him speaking, I listen to his tone, and his tone tells me that this is true. I’m surprised. A carrot snaps in my hands.

“Okay good,” I say, “Well I’m glad about that, but truth is things, are going to have to change.”

“What do you mean?” his voice begins to rise. “Have you found someone else?

I begin to put the washed carrots, in the nearest saucepan; the water is warming another few minutes it will have boiled. “No of course not, how could I? The way I’ve been lately, and I wouldn’t want to. This is about you and your needs.”

He starts to speak but gives up, and reaches into his pocket for a cigar, as he lights I carry on, “We need to get a girl, to live with us, someone who can be a friend to me, and be of service to you. I know I’m not explaining this well.” I let go of the potato in my hand; it rolls around the sink until it lands in the plug. “I want to give you everything, give you love, companionship, make your life as easy as possible. I want to get lost in you. I don’t want to exist if it’s not as part of you. But you don’t like fucking me, we both know this, and you’ve said why. I respect that, and no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t make you think differently but you still have your needs, and that one has been ignored for a while. So, I’ll give up that part of you, just as I’ll give myself up for you“ I turn to him, he’s been watching me cigar dangling out the side of his mouth, his eyes dazed. “We need to find a girl you want so badly it hurts, someone who can give you all the pleasure you’ve been wanting all this time, we should find you a woman to abuse.”

“Mandy….” That’s all he can say, he gets to his feet, and walks over to me, I let him wrap his arms around me, they fold over themselves along my back, I tuck my head under his chin, and slowly return the embrace.

We stand holding each other in the kitchen of our home for ten years, it’s the first time we’ve hold on for a long time. The water in the saucepan is beginning to bubble, the taps are still running and the vegetables sit in the sink. I have no doubt in my mind that something has been decided. No doubt that something just changed when I proposed my offer, and he took it and me in his arms. He holds us both, his new woman and me. I am holding him, but if someone were to walk past the kitchen now they’d see only him because I have disappeared. This is what I’ve always wanted, always craved forever since my daddy bled on our doorstep. I do not want to count, and now I don’t. Of course it’s only for this moment, but if we find someone that moment will be repeated, over and over again, until you will wonder where I’ve gone,

“I love you Mandy, utterly completely, and I know you see things deeper the most people, you can see the problems behind people, the truth and stuff. So I’ll do what ever you ask, and if you need another woman in here to help with the cleaning or just as someone to talk to, well we can do that of course we can do that.” He says all this quickly, and I don’t know if he means it, I don’t know if he’s just trying to excuse himself. I just know it doesn’t matter anymore, all that matters that he gets what he needs. Nothing less, nothing more, so I breathe his smell in deeply as he releases his strong arms, and we kiss, and it’s nice. It feels like something comfortable, and I know I want to devour him, but he doesn’t want that, he wants a gentle kiss, and then he wants to talk about nothing, as I make dinner, So when he removes his lips, I turn back around to the sink, picking up some broccoli with one hand and turning the gas down with the other. I scrub, and I clean vegetables, and listen to him talk. It is good, to be making dinner for a man you love, and it is good to be nothing, when being something has never worked. I let the memory of my dead children slip out of my mind, I let the memory of my dead father slip from my mind, and I have already late my the hate for my mother slip from my mind.



We are eating dinner, four veg, sausages and bacon, he drinks beer, and I drink water. The light above us has flickered twice since we sat down, I stood up to fetch a new bulb from the cupboard, and Mark told me to do it later. So we sit half waiting to slip into darkness, half enjoying the company and the food. There are things I want to ask, and I think he does to. I want to move ahead with this, doing that means I have to become visible in this marriage again, it mean’s my opinion in this marriage matters. I do not want this. This has to be about him, however I think he’s getting ready to ask, for the past ten minutes he’s been quiet, occasionally glancing me and playing with what’s left on his plate. Putting sausage ends and bits of cabbage in a piece of bread, folding it then unfolding it. Repeating this over and over again.

I ask “I think I’ll clear up now, if that’s okay with you.”

“That’d be great, thanks,” he replies.

I stand up, take both our plates, and put them by the side of the sink.

Even when I turn on the hot and cold taps, I hear him breathing. It’s tired and slowed he’s been up since dawn, and the four beers he had with dinner have worn him out, once the washing up is done, I’ll take him in my arms, as he sits there his head can rest against my belly. He can listen to where his children used to be; he’ll hear a comforting echo. It will drift him off to peace and comfort. When he’s ready, we’ll go to bed, and sleep side by side.

“Did you have anyone in mind?” his words snap me out of my reverie.

“I didn’t no, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as they can make you happy, that’ll be enough darling.”

In the window’s reflection I see him roll the bottle of beer between his fingers, and say “I don’t know how to go about this.”

“You just find someone like you found me,”

“You came to work for my father, you lived in a caravan, I got lucky with you that wouldn’t happen again,” He sips from his beer, and glances over at me, runs his eyes along my body. Maybe he’s suddenly afraid I can see him, because he turns quickly and drinks again, finishing the bottle, before saying “So what would you suggest Mandy? I don’t know how to do this, before you there was no one,”

“Well who do you like, I mean your pictures in the living room.”

“They were my fathers pictures, he asked me not to take them down” again his voice rises, he is defensive. He gets defensive.

“I know, sweet darling, honey love, I know, I meant, your fathers, but they must have seeped in, haven’t they? Isn’t that the woman you’d like.”

He chuckles, heading for the fridge “Maybe, but we won’t get any of those girls round here, not working here anyway,”

“Well who do we have working here?”

Taking out another bottle from the fridge, he pauses before saying “Wives and girlfriends mostly, no single women, I’m afraid.”

2 Comments:

Blogger sb said...

Ah, Wally! If you're not writing horror then I'm not sure what you're writing. Again, it's difficult to critique at this point because it is a rough draft. I like reading them but it's not fair to critique a rough draft.

7:09 AM  
Blogger sb said...

This must be a rough month for critiques because Wally deserves some critiques, HERE.

7:00 AM  

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