Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Excerpt from 'The Wasps' Nest'

The following is a short extract from my story 'The Wasps Nest', currently unpublished.

In the visits centre Alan was sitting hunched at the plastic table, so shrunken she hardly recognized him when she scanned the room. She was looking for the big strong mechanic she’d married, who’d so often boasted about the dodgy parts dealers he’d bested at the garage — not this frightened old man with his unshaven cheeks and edgy, fast-moving eyes. It was noisy and heckling in there, the kids bored and screaming while their parents huddled, bracketing their snatched intimacy with their backs and trying to grope one another out of sight of the officers. Alan stood and pulled out a chair for her — that was him all over, always polite, knew how to treat a lady. It was why she married him, that old-fashioned courtesy. A true gentleman, she always said. A gentleman at a time when her body and soul thirsted for gentleness like water. The bruises had faded, the bones mended, but after she escaped her first marriage she still suffered a terrible tenderness in her skin. A harsh word made her shake, the abrasion of a doorway hurt like a blow, even the hard light of summer assaulted her and had her wearing her dark glasses again, hiding in them like a shellfish. She had thought she could never bear to let a man touch her again. But then there had been Alan, courting her with flowers, the old-fashioned way.

And she’d told him. She’d said to him that if his intentions weren’t honourable then he could forget it right away; she wasn’t like that. Of course she knew she was damaged goods and was lucky to have him at all, someone to take her to the pokies on a Saturday night, or drive her to Target when she needed a new pair of shoes. But it had given her such pleasure playing the role of someone she wished she’d had the chance to be. Forty-two and acting like a schoolgirl who’d never been kissed. It was such silliness yet such dizzy pretence. And Alan opening doors and kissing her hand, for goodness sake. She shouldn’t have been shocked at the proposal, when it came. Alan was a man and even the sweetest of men won’t wait forever. She’d just hoped to play the game a little longer. Of course she said yes, and then she wept, and Alan thought it was happiness. She let him believe it; how could she ever have explained her grief?

1 comment:

Simonne said...

Ok, found myself crying at the end of this. Gimme more!
I do love your writing - but you know that.
'...bracketing their snatched intimacy with their backs...' is just brilliant.