January 23, 2005

three unfinished stories

I got this idea from Tiny Coconut, who got it from Sundry (who I discovered as a result and really like). I love it, loved reading theirs and then digging in my own files for stories begun but abandoned.

Here are mine:

Story #1:

The problem wasn�t what she did that night. I can understand the impulse to steal pretty china in an elegant restaurant, as if somehow you�ll carry the luxury home with you along with whatever traces of chocolate truffle remain on the delicately tapered rim. No, the problem was how she did it: with a wide toothy smile, her eyes half slits and a gurgle in her voice as she insisted that no, this was right and this was fun and this was going to fit in my father�s pocket, �Here you go, honey, slip it on in there.�

Or maybe that wasn�t what made me squirm in my mahogany-backed Queen Anne chair and plead with her, �Stop, put it back, don�t do that.� After all, if you�re going to steal, you should do it with style and �lan and complete assurance. But there was a triumph in her eyes as she handed him the second custard cup and the third and then a miniature silver spoon, the kind they give babies for their first mouthful of rice cereal or, in this case, sugar to stir into a similarly miniature cappuccino cup with blue forget-me-nots painted on the white porcelain. Which also went into my father�s voluminous suit pocket.

Yes, it was the triumph that bothered me the most. Nobody should enjoy stealing quite that much.

Story #2:

Prickling, tingling, warm. . . itchy. I lie on a soft, cushioned table. Alone in a small room. Trying not to scratch my belly. Millimeter-thin needles stick out of my abdomen. White balls on top bounce lightly as I breathe. I'm glad there's no mirror on the ceiling, I'd run out of the room screaming. Instead I gaze at a painting, very Chinese, two pandas munching on -- whatever they munch on. Something green and feathery.

Focus. My belly. Warm. Red flower, no, red is blood, blood is what we don't want here -- white flower unfurling, opening, blossoming inside my womb. Healing, cleansing, pure and loving. I hold the thought for five long seconds and then drift back to those needles. Itchy. Don't scratch. Oh man, how do I not scratch? Didn't they do this in the Spanish Inquisition -- tie you up, take your clothes off, and tickle you with a feather until you cried and told them anything they wanted to know, anything at all, as long as they let you SCRATCH?? Don't scratch. Can't scratch.

I scratch. Not the needles, around the needles. They sway and sting as I brush my fingers past them. They're like stalks of wheat. I�m growing a field of needles on my infertile abdomen.

Story #3:

The tail end of winter. The snow on the ground has turned to slush. The radiator gurgles to itself and occasionally hisses in a burst of passion. The dawn creeps into the room past the heavy curtain. I lie in bed, asleep and dreaming. I dream of a hospital bed with the metal bars up. My grandfather lies there. Is he asleep? I don't know, but then, I'm asleep, so how can I judge? I'm lying in bed with him now, in my dream. I wear a heavy flannel nightgown, he's in a flimsy hospital gown. I hold him close until he stops shaking. He falls asleep and I drift off too, or maybe I start dreaming another dream.

A week later I'm on the phone with my mother. I only talk to her once a month, she lives in Canada, and neither of us can afford the long distance call. She tells me my grandfather got through the surgery okay.

"What surgery?"

He has hardening of the arteries. He is, after all, eighty five years old. They had to clear the blood vessels. I picture surgeons armed with pipe cleaners.

I ask when the surgery occurred. She tells me.

It was the very morning I dreamed that I held him in my arms, hugging him and willing my energy into him.

The strange thing is that I've never been that close to my grandfather.

Posted by Tamar at January 23, 2005 08:21 PM