Autumn, Cigarettes, and Solitude

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A first person incite into a woman's tragic past in contrast to her present. A story about growing up, painful memories, and the feeling of hopelessness.

Submitted: October 15, 2008

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Submitted: October 15, 2008

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“I had always hated children, but never so much as on that day. You see, you wouldn’t understand unless I started from the beginning now would you. Well, I suppose if it is for sentimental purposes, it wouldn’t be too much of a waste.

My dad was something of a merchant. As a kid, I remember he would be gone for weeks on end, leaving my mother and I alone to fend for ourselves. We were poor while he was gone, but every time he came home he always had something majestic to compensate for his absence. I was always angry at him for being gone so long, but his warm smile and gentle embrace, along with his souvenir would win me over every single time. Sometimes it would be food, or candy. Other times, it would be like a toy or something. He got me a Rubik’s cube once, but I broke it the next day. I got so pissed that I couldn’t solve it that I smashed it to bits with Mom’s chicken smasher hammer thing. I still don’t know what you call those.

Anyhow, one time he got me a duck. I mean a real duck. He had named it Frank, after an old army buddy of his. That duck was one hell of a duck. It followed me everywhere like a freakin’ puppy. I loved that duck. But, like everything good, it died. I was so angry with him for getting for me it the first place.

No matter how much I would beg him not to go, he would always leave again, and I would cry. Mother and I were left alone for another month or two. She was always a good mom to me. Her eyes were always sad though. Once, when I was real young, they had been a sparkling blue, but as the years past, it almost seemed that they had faded to a dull and glossy gray. Her hands were so sad too. They weren’t little hands, but they were so gentle and loving. They always worked so slowly, as if there was nothing to hurry about. She had accepted her fate as a woman, wife, and mother, and saw no future beyond that.

What I remember most about her was her green journal. It was decorated like a dense forest in the mid-afternoon of the beginning of autumn. Soft green leaves were painted delicately on the outside of it, with little strokes of yellow to represent sunshine. An olive green ribbon always protruded from a dark thick crevice of the golden pages. She wrote in it often. I never knew about what though. She had such a dull life to have written about anything substantial. But, every day, after lunch, she would go out in the courtyard, and, while the birds chirped, she would sit under the olive tree and write away for an hour. When I bothered her, she would look up with a smile and cater to my needs before going back to writing.

She was a strong woman too. One time when dad was gone on a trip, we got robbed. It wasn’t too late out either, so we were both awake. Mother stood up to that ugly man and shouted at him until he left. I wasn’t even scared because somehow I knew that I was safe with her. When the man left, Mother tucked me in as normal, and went to bed as normal. She didn’t know that I could hear her crying though. I never even asked about it.

I grew up a quiet kid. I wasn’t much of a lovely girl like mother probably would have hoped, but I was alright. At fourteen, Dad left us for good. One day, he came in and said, ‘look girls, I can’t live like this anymore. It’s too quiet.’ I swear that is exactly what he said. So he and this lady wearing a pink blouse with bright orange hair hopped in his car and took off. It wasn’t too much of a loss since he was always gone anyway. I cried at first, but that’s only natural.

Mother never shed a tear. She sat there, holding me and wiping my tears, but never once shed her own. I don’t know if it’s because she was happy to be rid of him, or if it was just because she was in shock, but she never once cried.

At fifteen, I became real rebellious. I feel bad for mother because she had to deal with me. I died my hair purple and started dressing like such a little punk. Mother delt with me in a way that anyone could respect. To her, mothering just came naturally I guess.

But when I turned seventeen, I still hadn’t come out of my faze. I was still a punky little twerp. I only blame myself for what had happened next. I came home to nobody. Mother’s backpack was gone, along with her journal. She had left for good. Her too. I didn’t blame her. She had stuck around for when it counted. She did her job. Her absence was long overdue.

Well, what could I do? I too took off. I grabbed my backpack and some food hitchhiked over to the next city. I took up smoking. It was something to occupy the time. I started dating scum, because I wasn’t too bad looking, but not sexy enough to get a lawyer or anything special. One of my boyfriends taught me how to use a gun. That got me into burglary. I was a no-good thief, robbing the best of the best. I was pretty damn good at it for a girl. I was never short on cash, that’s for sure. Things started to go sour though when those damn cops put a bounty on my head. At first I was flattered, but then I realized it was pretty damn serious.

On my twenty-first birthday, I sighed in this old Irish pub. I was alone, and drunk. I realized that I had had my share of the bright lights, sex and thieving. I gave my gun to the bartender. She almost screamed, but then she took it. I told her how to shoot and gave her my gun. She smiled when she realized who I was. She didn’t even try to get the bounty.

I left that god-forsaken city and returned to my home town. The house was awful, just awful. It had been abandoned. The windows were broken, shattered, as if they knew the family that had once occupied it was broken. Inanimate objects are funny like that. In all my years I’ve come to notice that things without emotion seem to know how we feel better than we do. Nobody wanted the house, because they all knew about our family; so much drama. I needed a place to stay though, and I didn’t have anywhere else to choose from. I started by trimming mother’s olive tree and the rest of the plants in the courtyard. That was the first thing that needed to be done. After that, I repaired the windows, then cleaned and refurbished the inside. It became my domain.

I decided to make a few personal changes as well. I stopped dressing like such a punky little kid, and grew my hair out to its plain color, and I got myself a real job, at the car-dealership. I was the best bull shitter in the universe. Seriously, I sold like forty cars my first week there.

I lived alone and in peace like that for two years. The bounty had faded behind the bounties of other no-good high-rollers. Life was going good. Just when I thought solitude was the way for me, my boss surprised me with a Mustang. Not just any Mustang, a 1968 ‘Stang. I always knew he was fond of me, but not like this. He was eighteen years older than me. He wasn’t bad looking, and at first glance, you would never know his age. He didn’t act it either. I must admit, he had me the first time he smiled at me. Whether I liked him in the romantic sense or not was unclear, but there definitely was connection. So he took me to dinner a few times. I tried to lure him back home, but never succeeded. I must admit it drove e crazy. He was too damn respectful of women. The fool wouldn’t even kiss me. I made him laugh when I shouted at him, ‘Are you gay or something?’ I didn’t need an answer because I knew he wasn’t. He had my heart in a way I didn’t understand. I always thought you had to sleep with a guy, you know? But he made me want him so bad with out so much as a holding my hand. Most of the time we talked about philosophy, something that was always on my mind but, I never talked about it because I always thought it wasn’t appropriate. We would sit in my ‘Stang and watch the sun go down. Then I would drive him home. A year after we began this friendship, he kinda backed off. I wasn’t happy about it at first, because I felt I had invested all that time and not even gotten into his pants. I gave it up though, and realized that I had to give up the old me. I was such a creature of desire. I kept working at the dealership and spoke to him no more than anybody else.

I was twenty-five and had lived more life than most old people. I was lonely, but content with my seclusion. One day I was sitting at the table in Mother’s courtyard, smoking a cigarette, when a man in a black suit and tie and hat walked up holding a baby.

‘You Marie?’ I remember that he said that exactly.

‘What do you want?’ My response was intentionally blunt.

‘Can we go inside? We need to talk.’

So we went inside, and because of the damn kid I had to put out my cigarette. He sat there and told me a story I wasn’t ready to hear.

I guess my mother didn’t leave just to get away. That gentle woman had built up twenty years worth of anger. You see, my Dad was no merchant, he was a no-good dirty cheating thief. Mother knew it the whole time. He was a dangerous man and there was nothing she could do about it. She just kept on living because if she made a move, it could have been the end of us. When she left, she went on a rampage. She bought herself a gun and went and got all the information she needed to find Dad. When she found him in modern suburbia, she shot the bastard down. I can just imagine the sparkle that must have flooded back into her eyes as she did it. But when the red-headed mistress came in, Mother couldn’t stop. When she heard the cries of the baby, she had realized what she had done. Mother put a bullet in her own head. It was a mess.

So as he sat there telling me all this, the fat baby sat there, giggling and laughing, trying to grab the dust dancing in rays of sunshine that spilled in from outside. The child was so oblivious, and I hated her for it.

‘Neither of your parents left behind a will, a lucky thing for you because both of them have a hefty debt. You however, are the only living family member that I could track down. You gotta take the kid.’

‘What are you a lawyer or something?’

‘I’m an old friend of your dad’s.’

‘Why don’t you keep the kid?’

‘I can’t. It’s too dangerous.’

‘For who? You or the kid?’

‘Both of us. Please. I have to go. I’m only passing through.’

She just sat there talking baby gibberish. I hate kids. I am not the mothering type. If my mother taught me anything it’s that I could never amount to the mother she was. So the man got up and went to the door. But as his hand touched the doorknob, he stopped. He reached in his coat and pulled out mother’s old journal. I gasped. He tossed it to me.

‘She had this with her.’ He left. I sat there holding mother’s journal, some baby on the floor rolling around laughing, and the man drove away.

 

You see now why I hated kids so much?”

“I suppose. Although it is kind of ironic to say that.”

“Why?”

“Because you were once a kid. Just like you were once a thief and you call thieves no-good.”

“Thieves are no good and I was no good when I was a thief. So… does it bother you?”

“Does what bother me?”

“Well you always have said I was so mysterious. Does my past bother you?”

“Absolutely not. By the way, I never knew you wanted me so badly back then.”

“Yeah, I thought I’d include that just for you.”

“Did you ever read your mother’s journal?”

“Yeah. It was a bunch of nonsense. Just stories that aren’t even true. I think it was what she wished her life was like or something. She killed her self by doing that. Oh Mother. Why did you have to be wishful?”

 “To set things strait, I was madly in love with you back then.”

“Yeah? I’m glad.”

So I leaned my head on his chest and we watched the big fat white moon rising from the hood of my ‘Stang. The crisp wind was gentle to us.

 “And for the record Marie, I think you are an excellent mother. Come on dear, let’s get home before Hope realizes we’ve gone.”

 


© Copyright 2020 Raff Davis. All rights reserved.

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