Friday, March 20, 2009

New endeavors

It's been nearly a month since last time I wrote here. I apologize to the few (3, 4?) readers that I have! I've started working on a new project, and when I'm not sleeping, at work, or drunk (well, sometimes when I'm drunk) it is the only thing I work on. I figure, if law school is out, I might as well try my hand at one of the many secret aspirations I have.

That being said, below is a short snippet of what I have been working on. It is rough and very first-drafty, so please disregard any nonsensical sentences.

Chapter 4

He kissed the ridge of my collarbone, the part that made me inherently asymmetrical. I let sleep take me under.

My feet stuck straight out, off the edge of the gray leather bench seat in the back of my mom’s 1978 Buick LeSabre. I was wearing pink sparkle Jelly sandals—the type that inevitably give your toes huge blisters even if worn for only a few moments while playing—and a yellow sundress with an attached apron that was embroidered with flowers and bunnies.

Maynard was sitting next to me on the bench, wearing navy blue shorts with a starched red and blue plaid shirt tucked into them. My mother had put us into our Sunday best. It was hot, and our chubby legs stuck to the seat.

We watched buses pull into the depot and unload passengers and cargo. Every time a new one put on its signal to turn in from the two-lane highway mom would start smoothing her dress and examining her lipstick in the rear view mirror.

“Sit up straight, Peggy, your father should be here soon. Maynard, stop fidgeting.”

“Mama,” I implored, “I’m thirsty.”

“Mama, I’m hungry,” Maynard chimed in.

“You two better stop complaining or I’ll tell your father when he gets in,” she snapped fiercely at us. “We will eat and drink when he gets here. You two are such messy children, you’ll spill all over yourselves and daddy will take one look at the likes of you and will turn around and leave again.”

The minutes ticked by and the sun passed overhead. I watched the shadows it made out of the gas pumps and pretended they were monsters coming to kidnap Maynard and me away to some enchanted world where we would be hailed as royalty.

The sun sank below the pinewoods on the west side of the freeway. The shadows stretched out across the pavement and slowly crept across the car, enveloping us in darkness.

“Any moment now! Your father will be here any moment!” Mom’s voice was becoming panicked. Her shrill reassurances were far from comforting.

She got out of the car and lit a cigarette. Her lightweight cotton dress blew in the breeze and outlined her small frame. An attendant stepped out of the small convenience store that doubled as a waiting room and started pulling the steel shutters on the outsides of the windows shut. Mom dropped her cigarette on the pavement and toed it out.

“Now you two stay here, I’m going to go ask that man when the next bus is supposed to come in.” She reached in the open window of the Buick and grabbed the keys out of the ignition.

As we peered over the front seat we could see her gesticulating wildly at the stooped elderly black man. He kept shrugging, looking sincerely apologetic and utterly exasperated at this tiny woman with hugely teased hair. I desperately wanted to go grab her by the hand and bring her back to the car, but the child locks were on.

An eternity passed as she turned from the man and walked back to where we were frozen. I could hear Maynard’s heart beat quick and arrhythmic. His jaw was set tight. Mom climbed into the car and placed both hands on the steering wheel. She hunched over and began to shake.

“Mama, when is daddy going to get here? I am…” Maynard grabbed my arm to quiet me.

She turned the key in the ignition and the Buick rumbled to life. “He’s not coming, baby. He’ll come tomorrow. He’s not coming today. We’re going home. He’s not coming.” She kept repeating “he’s not coming” as she pulled out of the bus depot and onto the interstate.

“But why, mama?” I began to cry. I was still standing on the floor of the car, watching her.

“He loves me! He. Loves. Me!” She shrieked the words, both a promise and an accusation. The red hand of speedometer increased to 60. I was thrown back into my seat with the inertia. Maynard slid over to me and buckled my seatbelt.

Mom was now sobbing. Trees flashed by too fast for my eyes to focus on. “He loves me! He’s not coming! He loves me!”

“Peggy look at me,” Maynard was gripping my hand across the seat. “It will be okay, he will come home.” Tears streamed down my face and my chest heaved.

“He’s not coming!”

And then it happened: she veered to the right. We flung forward against our seatbelts, my hand still wrapped tightly in Maynard’s. Glass shattered and metal groaned under the impact.

A snap. A sharp pain. I screamed.

That was her first attempt.

When I awoke, my bed was stained with sex from the night before and sweat from and my nightmare. I instinctively reached up to my collarbone and ran my fingers along the knob where it had long ago been broken.

Aloysius was gone—I never kicked him out like the others, but he never stayed.