Forever This Time

I kiss Louise goodnight and tuck the blanket around her tiny shoulders.  It’s a woven synthetic, scratchy like wool and just as heavy in the middle of the summer.  Edged in smooth satin.  And that’s the only saving grace of this cheap blanket: that smoothness over the scratchiness that soothes Louise to sleep.  She grasps the satin, rubs her thumb along the top.  I hear a rumble of thunder and go to her window, wrestling it closed against thick layers of paint that flakes in my hand.    


“Sleep tight, Louie,” I whisper.  From her dresser, I pick up a picture of my mother—a mother who died giving birth to me—and whisper a silent prayer to that smiling woman behind glass—Let her be happy.  Let her be safe—before tiptoeing from the room and closing the door quietly behind me.


This I know: Louise will throw off the blanket while she sleeps.  Even at seven, she refuses to be constrained by anything, even something designed to provide comfort.  But I also know this: Late at night, she will worry her finger over the bits of the blanket that have pilled and gathered unbidden upon the blanket’s surface.  With her tiny fingernail, she’ll tease them from the blanket, roll them between her finger and thumb.  And then, while she listens to Paul and me argue, she’ll tuck one into each nostril so that she can smell what she 
calls “mommy perfume,” while she sleeps.


I return to the dining room where Paul is setting out the bills; arranging them by due dates, eight of them stamped in red—Past Due—as if that red stamp could somehow magically force us to come up with the money that Paul has spent on fast women and fast cars and expensive romantic dinners for two while Louise and I ate Ramen noodles and watched Laverne and Shirley reruns on a black and white portable television set.


We work quietly, only breaking the silence to announce an amount to write on the check.   “Verizon.  Sixty-four twenty-nine.”  “Rent.  Four fifty.”  We pay what we can and put the rest back into the file folder.  Paul stacks the envelopes neatly, affixes the final stamp, perfectly aligned in the right hand corner of the envelope.
Lightning flashes and the overhead lights dim for a moment and for the first time in months, Paul and I allow our eyes to touch.  He gives me a smile full of sadness and regret.   “I’m leaving you, Becca.”


I am not shocked by this.  “I figured it was coming.” 


He is angered by my composure.  I can tell he wishes for my anger, to justify his own.  “I mean…I don’t even know if Louise is my child.”


“You know she is.”


He looks me in the eye.  “Do I?  Really?”


And I realize that not only is there another woman, more permanent that the last one, there is someone else: “How do you know the other child is yours?”


He has the decency to flush.  For too many years I’ve allowed him to believe I believed his excuses of last-minute work; travel emergencies; demands of trying to move up the corporate ladder.


He removes his overnight back from the front hall, perpetually packed, but this time intended to be unpacked into someone else’s life.  He leaves in the rain, slamming the front door behind him.  I step out behind him, watch his taillights disappear down Liberty Avenue.  The lightning flashes and the thunder roars and I let the rain wash over me, soaking me to the skin.


“Mommy?”


Louise stands in the door holding the satin edging of the blanket close to her cheek.


I return to the house and gather her up in my arms.  I prepare her a cup of hot chocolate and put on my pajamas and we snuggle in the oversize chair to read a story.


“Daddy’s gone, isn’t he?”


I hesistate.  “He went out for a bit, yes.”


“He went forever this time.”


I stare at her.  “Why do you say that?”


“The anger is gone.  The house is bigger.”


I choke back a sob and kiss the top of her head.  Louise is the smooth over the scratchiness of my life. 


“What will we do now, Mommy?”


“We’ll be fine, Louie.”


“But…”  Her eyes—the eyes of her father—are troubled.  There’s a smear of cocoa on her upper lip.  


“Where will we get money?”


“We’ll be fine, sweetie.”  I pat her leg and tuck her back into bed, this time pulling only the sheet over her.  I take the blanket and the picture of my mother into the dining room.  With a seam ripper, I remove the smooth satin where six years ago I’d hidden hundred dollar bills.  I remove my mother from behind the glass and take the key to the safety deposit box. 


When I first met Paul he told me to never trust anyone.


Thank God, I’d listened to him.


For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Chelle at http://awriterisborn.wordpress.com/ gave me this prompt: a blue blanket, a picture, a thunderstorm.

This was also linked to Yeah, Write.

Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Forever This Time

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Forever This Time

I kiss Louise goodnight and tuck the blanket around her tiny shoulders.  It’s a woven synthetic, scratchy like wool and just as heavy in the middle of the summer.  Edged in smooth satin.  And that’s the only saving grace of this cheap blanket: that smoothness over the scratchiness that soothes Louise to sleep.  She grasps the satin, rubs her thumb along the top.  I hear a rumble of thunder and go to her window, wrestling it closed against thick layers of paint that flakes in my hand.    


“Sleep tight, Louie,” I whisper.  From her dresser, I pick up a picture of my mother—a mother who died giving birth to me—and whisper a silent prayer to that smiling woman behind glass—Let her be happy.  Let her be safe—before tiptoeing from the room and closing the door quietly behind me.


This I know: Louise will throw off the blanket while she sleeps.  Even at seven, she refuses to be constrained by anything, even something designed to provide comfort.  But I also know this: Late at night, she will worry her finger over the bits of the blanket that have pilled and gathered unbidden upon the blanket’s surface.  With her tiny fingernail, she’ll tease them from the blanket, roll them between her finger and thumb.  And then, while she listens to Paul and me argue, she’ll tuck one into each nostril so that she can smell what she 
calls “mommy perfume,” while she sleeps.


I return to the dining room where Paul is setting out the bills; arranging them by due dates, eight of them stamped in red—Past Due—as if that red stamp could somehow magically force us to come up with the money that Paul has spent on fast women and fast cars and expensive romantic dinners for two while Louise and I ate Ramen noodles and watched Laverne and Shirley reruns on a black and white portable television set.


We work quietly, only breaking the silence to announce an amount to write on the check.   “Verizon.  Sixty-four twenty-nine.”  “Rent.  Four fifty.”  We pay what we can and put the rest back into the file folder.  Paul stacks the envelopes neatly, affixes the final stamp, perfectly aligned in the right hand corner of the envelope.
Lightning flashes and the overhead lights dim for a moment and for the first time in months, Paul and I allow our eyes to touch.  He gives me a smile full of sadness and regret.   “I’m leaving you, Becca.”


I am not shocked by this.  “I figured it was coming.” 


He is angered by my composure.  I can tell he wishes for my anger, to justify his own.  “I mean…I don’t even know if Louise is my child.”


“You know she is.”


He looks me in the eye.  “Do I?  Really?”


And I realize that not only is there another woman, more permanent that the last one, there is someone else: “How do you know the other child is yours?”


He has the decency to flush.  For too many years I’ve allowed him to believe I believed his excuses of last-minute work; travel emergencies; demands of trying to move up the corporate ladder.


He removes his overnight back from the front hall, perpetually packed, but this time intended to be unpacked into someone else’s life.  He leaves in the rain, slamming the front door behind him.  I step out behind him, watch his taillights disappear down Liberty Avenue.  The lightning flashes and the thunder roars and I let the rain wash over me, soaking me to the skin.


“Mommy?”


Louise stands in the door holding the satin edging of the blanket close to her cheek.


I return to the house and gather her up in my arms.  I prepare her a cup of hot chocolate and put on my pajamas and we snuggle in the oversize chair to read a story.


“Daddy’s gone, isn’t he?”


I hesistate.  “He went out for a bit, yes.”


“He went forever this time.”


I stare at her.  “Why do you say that?”


“The anger is gone.  The house is bigger.”


I choke back a sob and kiss the top of her head.  Louise is the smooth over the scratchiness of my life. 


“What will we do now, Mommy?”


“We’ll be fine, Louie.”


“But…”  Her eyes—the eyes of her father—are troubled.  There’s a smear of cocoa on her upper lip.  


“Where will we get money?”


“We’ll be fine, sweetie.”  I pat her leg and tuck her back into bed, this time pulling only the sheet over her.  I take the blanket and the picture of my mother into the dining room.  With a seam ripper, I remove the smooth satin where six years ago I’d hidden hundred dollar bills.  I remove my mother from behind the glass and take the key to the safety deposit box. 


When I first met Paul he told me to never trust anyone.


Thank God, I’d listened to him.


For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Chelle at http://awriterisborn.wordpress.com/ gave me this prompt: a blue blanket, a picture, a thunderstorm.

This was also linked to Yeah, Write.

Labels: ,

32 Comments:

At June 20, 2012 at 1:48 PM , Anonymous Beverly Diehl said...

Oooh, liking this. I wanted your female protagonist to show some backboone - and it turned out she had some all along.

Plus, you made me crave my old blankie.

 
At June 21, 2012 at 3:44 AM , Anonymous FlamingNyx said...

Wow, that is an awesome ending. Well done.

 
At June 21, 2012 at 4:43 AM , Anonymous Mary said...

The burden of strain within a home has profound impact on a child; you depicted it well.

 
At June 21, 2012 at 5:25 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

You manage to get the VERY large picture out with such finness. Liked this one a lot.

 
At June 21, 2012 at 10:58 AM , Anonymous TomJTaylor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At June 22, 2012 at 6:23 AM , Anonymous Annabelle said...

So poignant, and a great ending. It seems like they'll be fine, and they deserve to be.

 
At June 22, 2012 at 10:00 AM , Anonymous Cathy said...

This is fantastic. You have a gift.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 8:24 AM , Anonymous Travis said...

Wow. This is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Came over from Yeah Write. I'll be staying.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM , Anonymous Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

You are talented. Know that. A privilege to read these words. (Feeling thankful that Yeah Write brought me here.)

 
At June 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM , Anonymous christina said...

fantastic writing.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 11:07 AM , Anonymous IASoupMama said...

Love this -- excellent pacing and attention to descriptive detail -- great job!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 11:23 AM , Anonymous Christie said...

An amazingly told story. Well done.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 11:45 AM , Anonymous Erin @Momfog said...

Fantastic story.

"The anger is gone. The house is bigger." GREAT line.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 3:45 PM , Anonymous Mayor Gia said...

What mixed emotions - it's made me both sad and full of relief!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 4:43 PM , Anonymous Justbeginfromhere said...

Absolutely wonderful. I especially liked the very real flow of the dialogue. VERY VERY good writing. So glad I found you through YeahWrite.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 5:08 PM , Anonymous Laurel said...

Wonderful story and I am glad it was only a story, very sad.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 5:08 PM , Anonymous Dawn Beronilla said...

Yet another amazing post!
You paint a picture that is so vivid, I could smell the rain.
GREAT job!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 6:01 PM , Anonymous The Dose of Reality said...

This is absolutely AMAZING. I could picture it almost as thought it were actually happening. Fantastic.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 6:45 PM , Blogger Carson Sheltra said...

fantastic. amazing. chilling. sad and triumphant.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 7:30 PM , Anonymous Ladygoogoogaga2011 said...

Love this!! Want more!!!!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM , Anonymous Christie O Tate said...

Holy shit. Sorry to curse on your wall, but that was SO Good. I can taste the hot chocolate and the relief that he's gone. I can't believe how sick he made me. Or your writing because he was a sick character. Whatever. YOu did a great job. I sort of hope it's not true, but if it is, you go girl. If not, you go girl.

 
At June 27, 2012 at 8:33 AM , Anonymous Cindy - The Reedster Speaks said...

Amazing fully formed story in so few words from those simple prompts.

 
At June 27, 2012 at 9:34 AM , Anonymous Lucas R said...

Great job! I was sucked in from beginning to end.

 
At June 27, 2012 at 1:28 PM , Anonymous Tara_pohlkottepress said...

amazing. i just loved this.

 
At June 27, 2012 at 5:45 PM , Anonymous Joseph Cereola said...

What can I say? A great story, told very well.

 
At June 27, 2012 at 7:14 PM , Anonymous jccbookclub said...

Beyond Beauty

 
At June 28, 2012 at 6:16 AM , Anonymous Adrienne said...

I wanted to read the rest of this novel!!! So good. I got chills when she removed the picture frame glass and found that key. This was really great!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 6:33 AM , Anonymous 50 Peach said...

brava!!!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 7:14 AM , Anonymous Sperk* said...

Great writing. Really speaks to the significance of so many things--money, grief, trust--it's all here. amazing.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 8:39 PM , Anonymous Cat Poland said...

Blown away. This is amazing.

 
At June 29, 2012 at 9:50 PM , Anonymous Shannon Vander Meulen said...

This story captured me from the first word until the last.

 
At June 30, 2012 at 4:04 PM , Anonymous PlaceofGreaterSafety said...

Latecomer from Yeah Write. Thank you so much for sharing this. Love the characters of both the mother and daughter.

 

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