If you’re looking for my A-Z post click here. Though this one qualifies too (P for Prose! P for Prompt.)
Today it’s time to get back to Write…Edit…Publish…with our entries for the prompt -
and I'm offering this after scrapping the poem I first did weeks ago. This is directly inspired by the Frost poem, though it has absolutely nothing to do with woodland pathways or anything half as lovely. Three part flash and I'm hoping they can be read in any order and I'd value your inputs as to whether you think so or no. And due apos to the poet and all, but I can't bring myself to write travelled as traveled, drives me crazy, sorry! :)
And that’s made all the difference
I let myself into the kitchen. The door closes with a click that is reassuringly familiar. I’ve known the footpath leading up to the back porch since childhood. The same diamond patterned light comes through the window grille and dapples the floor where I dropped a heavy kettle years ago and cracked the tile in a diamond pattern of its own. My mother is there - a halo of cinnamon smoke, gossamer thin cotton, steely determination and wisps of steel grey hair coming undone from her plait twisted up high on her head.
“You look like a ghost, child. Have some tea.” She still calls me child - that too is reassuring, familiar, a maternally motivated, comforting white lie.
The water has just come off the boil, the tea is fragrant but thin, I take it with double my usual measure of sugar. My hands tremble as I stir it. I need something much stronger – brandy? acid? rat poison?
She rolls out a paratha, fills it with mince – crumbly meat, it makes me shudder. She cooks it deftly and slides it in front of me.
The tremor in my fingers travels in widening circles up my arms and into my face and tongue. Inward and outward from my hands into the room and into my belly and my whole life is quivering like a blancmange inside me and out in front.
“Is everything alright?”
“Yes…N-no!” My voice sounds utterly unfamiliar, a stranger’s voice mouthing strange words, as I tell her.
She seems to shrink, then straightens and shrugs her shoulders into an invisible coat, as if she is getting a mantle of fortitude on.
“We’ll have to call the police I guess. I’m not having this insanity ruin all our lives.”
It’s ruined either way, Mama. Wide off the mark even when it’s a bullseye.
Two roads diverged
The footpath to the back porch is patched with daisies and tangles of weeds choking the edges. When Father was here he used to keep the path clear, but he’s not here anymore. Not just the path, the house itself has changed in the two seasons he’s been gone, overgrown, untidy, unkempt, less of a home. The land’s fertile, it only takes a few minutes of negligence to start some unwanted stuff sprouting up from nowhere.
The backdoor is really the front door, everyone uses it that way, the veggie vendors come here, the gasman, the visiting women from the neighbourhood, the knife-sharpening guy, the old-clothes-for-new-pots lady with her massively piled up basket of steel utensils.
I let myself in, the door clicks shut behind me with a sound deeply familiar, going back till memory becomes just a fog. My mother is there - a halo of fried onion smoke, gossamer thin cotton, steely determination and curls of jet black hair coming undone from her plait twisted up high on her head.
“Why are you looking like a whipped ghost, child? Did you lose the championship or what?”
“No, we got the trophy.”
“Bullseye! Good job! Sit and have some tea.”
The tea is fragrant but thin, I take it with heaped spoonfuls of sugar. My hands tremble as I stir it. I need something much stronger – brandy? acid? rat poison?
“Want something to eat?”
“No! Thanks. I’m okay.”
The thought of food is nauseating. The tremor in my frozen fingers travels in widening circles up my arms and into my face and tongue. Inward and outward from my hands into the room and into my belly and life is quivering like a jelly-custard inside me and out in front. I try dredging up some courage and warmth from the pit of my stomach – nothing.
“Actually I’m not...I’m -,” my voice sounds like a stranger’s voice mouthing strange words, as I tell her.
My eyes are locked into her smoked-amber ones, their pupils expanding wide and then contracting again to tiny black spots dead centre. Bullseye. The minute stretches like a thread of honey and snaps into two when she speaks again.
“Are you crazy, child? What have you done? You must marry, of course.”
“I've done nothing! I was forced-! And he’s going away – “
“The &^%* he is.” I have never heard her using an expletive. “I’m not raising a bastard grandkid.”
“Don’t, Mama. Don’t pressurise –“
“Shut your mouth. We’ll see who forces what. I’m not having anyone ruin your life. Get some rest now. You look wrung out.”
Way leads onto way
This kitchen is different – all brushed metal and polished granite, no cracked diamonds on the floor. A smart island. Antique butcher’s hooks above it, way too sharp to hang strings of garlic on. No-one comes to the backdoor here, there’s a backdoor, but no footpath around to it. The front door is less trouble. Many changes in these years – no utensil ladies, no knife-sharpening guys, you hone your own now.
I’m sharpening one - long and smooth and wickedly sharp, keen enough to slice rhino hide into juliennes - when my girl rushes in. Her sleeve is hanging in a torn strip, there’s blood at the side of her mouth, her eyes, she’s got my mother’s eyes, the same smoky-amber ring around a jet black core, those eyes are terror-stricken. I can hear him in the corridor. I point to the key by the back door, “Go on.”
A split second after I’ve shoved her through, he is in, spanner in hand, bellowing at me. There is a smear of blood on the metal.
How many times have I faced that spanner? Lost count. But he has never hit my daughter before, the abuse has always been directed at me.
At my mother’s eyes, terrified in my daughter’s face, something has finally hardened within me to a steel-edge, into a dagger-point and I throw the knife straight and true at that bellowing throat right where the veins are bulging out in an ugly corded curve. He topples over head first towards the island but the butcher’s hook catches his cheek and he remains dangling there, swaying from side to side as blood drips onto granite.
WC - 1025
Read the other entries below -