AFTER THE FUNERAL

He calls me, late at night…”How are you ?,” I say, voice croaky with sleep.

“Arrrgh, sorry, so sorry to wake you, it’s just…..I’ve been thinking “

and coming fully awake now “it’s all right, tell me?”

“I want to spend time with my sister’s kids….get them out of the house. I don’t know if I’m asking too much of you….but I want you there with me”, I hear the breath catch in his throat, the hesitancy, but I also hear the need, and even deeper down, his knowing, knowing I’ll agree. 

It’s a simple straightforward request, I could no more refuse him, than I could refuse the three children, so, I tell him “Yes”, adding “ it’s not a matter of helping you out, although I am happy to. I WANT to do something for those children, who’ve already seen too much, of one kind of life….not enough of the other” and then, inspired “let’s take them camping, what do you think?”

“Camping? Where?”

“Come see me, soon as you can…..we’ll figure it out”,  and then another small silence, “What? What is it?” I ask him….

“I want to be with you now”, and I hold the phone, listen to his breathing, speak very quietly to him, “Come, come now, come and sleep the night with me, we’ll make some plans tomorrow “, and his voice, rougher now, “I don’t want to sleep “, and me “neither do I,” so, “come, drive carefully, but hurry,”  and then there’s laughter…..I end the call and lie quiet, in the late night pre dawn dark, waiting, waiting for him.

THE FIRST FIGHT

Over a shared breakfast, they talk about the children….the cabin by the lake comes to both their minds….with the addition of a tent for the children, for one thing, the cabin is one tiny room, for another, they both want time alone, together. Hiking, canoeing (he can get hold of a canoe)….”big enough for five?”, she asks, and he laughs, “we’ll manage.”

He licks honey off his fingers, leans over and kisses her mouth, then suddenly business like, he has to go. “Things to do,” he says, looks away.

She leaves the table, walks up to him, but he avoids her eyes, turns briskly, opens the door, walks outside.

And here it is, reality, like a punch in the guts.

A storm of self abuse rains down upon her, as she holds onto the table, feeling her legs give way.

Here it is, REALITY.

“You stupid, stupid, deluded old Woman, could you possibly think you could have him….hold onto him?

Ha!!!  Marry him, have his children.

Go look in the mirror, DO IT!!!”

And she does, and sees many many things….a lifetime etched into her face, tears, rage at all the feared impossibilities, the agony of aloneness, the visceral need of a man. Her mirrored image stares back, ruthless……she sees a face ravaged with loss and grief, and still keeps looking, until she sees her soul self, feels some small relief, some grace.

And looking back once again…..” I am more than a young body, a pretty face. I am ALL that I am, and I am enough.”

Quietened now, she clears away the breakfast leavings on the table, washes dishes…..makes the bed, refusing to change the sheets, remove the stains, the scent of their recent lovemaking….smoothing the old, faded, cherished quilt…..folding the doings of the night in, keeping them tucked away between the sheets…”for now”, she hears her inner voice say. “For now”

And later, she goes out, to the movies….enters another reality, loses herself completely.

The credits roll by on the screen, the lights come up, and there he is, arm around the shoulder of his girlfriend, leaning down to her, as she tilts her face up to him, laughing.

They are beautiful together….she stays in her seat watching them….so lovely, both of them. Watches, waits until they leave….is amazed to find she can stand up, walk down the theatre steps, breathe.

Finds her car keys, drives home, finds some peace in being alone…goes out into the darkness with her dogs, turns on the outside light….and walks among the spring flowering plants, smelling their perfume in this quiet, stillness and realises, “I am all right”

A few days later, a message on her phone, “sorry about the other day, the way I left. I’m sorry…..for being rude, for leaving you that way, I didn’t want to hurt you……

I’ve got hold of a canoe, talked to my sister. She’s grateful and the kids are keen.”

She finds no answer, can’t respond….the image of his other life etched into her mind’s eye.

She’s neither angry or sulking, a wall has dropped down between them, and she cannot navigate a way back through to him….the beautiful stranger she saw just nights ago, arm around his young lover.

And so she does, says nothing.

IN THE FOREST


AND IN THE AFTERMATH when he is gone, she takes her dogs, goes walking in the nearby Forest…..breathes great lungfuls of ice cold air.

The Forest floor transformed after the last few days of rain…..mosses,  dried brown through the long harsh summer are richly plump and vivid green, and infusing everything, the heavy scent of Eucalyptus, strong, sweet and healing.  She turns her mind to simple things, watches her dogs change from bored domestic creatures into their wolffish origins as walking turns to running, their noses lifting, scenting the air, then loping  wild things…..stopping, scent marking “we’ve been here” they say….”THIS is our territory…..WE have been here,” as they piss and piss again, marking ground, grasses and trees, triumphantly.

“Oh yes” she says quietly, “Oh, Yes…..we have been here, we have lived”  and cannot remember a time before, when she didn’t carry him inside her….the very essence of him.

AND ONCE MORE AT HOME…..Folding clothes, making the bed, removing the pile of books she’s read and read, finding peace in simple things, and soon she’ll pick flowers, fill vases, grace each room with them….because he exists. She lights a daily candle, stares into the flickering flame, speaks his name…..blesses him.

 And remembers that first, unexpected phone call….

“It’s Brian….if I’ve read you wrong, I could lose my job.”

“That won’t happen, but tell me….what did you read?”

“That you are interested in me…. like me”,  there is both laughter and hesitancy in his voice.

“I do. Yes, I AM interested in you…..Very!!!”

“Then will you come and have a drink with me….somewhere private, not local” ( and I can immediately see all the tongues wagging, like some ghastly cartoon)

“Ahhhh, what a good idea”, I say….”name the day.”

“Yesterday ,” he says, and then we both laugh…..the early unsureness easing.

“Yes, I respond….. I feel the same way, yesterday can’t come soon enough.”

Then, emboldened “Or right now, if you can?”

“Just let me take care of a few things….give me two hours, then I’ll be free”, and then laughing, relaxed, he says, “Hurry.”

NIGHTMARES

BIG BUSINESS….A slight delay!!!

Day dawned, bright, sunshiny and dew laden
Birds twittered cheerfully in the treetops. My boys still sleeping, I greeted the dogs, let the chickens out, then with milk pail in one hand, I headed out of the garden, down the small sloping paddock, to the sheepfold gate….wide enough to drive a car or tractor through.
Well, I meant to …..there, lolling on his side, soaking up the sun, was BIG BUSINESS ….vast back leaning on the entire length of the gate. His small harem of cows, grazing peacefully nearby. He terrified me, head lowered, face completely unreadable…..his massive bulk as impassive as a small hill.
What does a novice say to a big, belligerent Bull….”shooo”, “piss off you big bugger”, he stretched a little, the red muscles rippling along his spine, and tossed his head (it could have just been an annoying fly), how the hell do you read a Bull’s emotions (they’re expressive and readable as rocks) , but legs dissolving to water, I retreated walking away backwards, eyeing him with loathing….the sheep flock the other side of him, were bahhing to be free. Goats with full udders, bleated from the shed, and BIG BUSINESS shifted, stretched again, lay his head down and went to sleep.
TIME PASSED…..this monstrous creature had me completely bluffed…..a desperate call to the stock and station agent didn’t yield much….just walk up to him, and shoo him off, don’t worry about it…..but I did!!!

MA© Summer 2018
To be continued……

THE FUNERAL

The day dawns, overcast , cold and grim, storm clouds banked overhead, rain threatening.  The body is laid in a simple, unadorned, pinewood coffin, covered with home made posies from relatives and friends.

The time it takes, unendurable as the Priest rambles incessantly, as the funeral moves on to the final resting ground, the local cemetery.  Maggie once again takes the reins, finds a song from long ago, a soulful tender ballad of love and death and the beating of wings….the final transformation.

And then it is over. Nothing more for them to do. No wake.

He drives her home, won’t stay, and at her door, pulls her to him, kisses mouth, nose, her hair.

Turns, turns again and calls “I’ll see you in a few days “, then turns again, retracing his steps, holds her hard against his chest. “I am a selfish bloody fool”, he says, “I forgot to even thank you”.

“And I was so very happy to do this for you….go now, I’ll see you very soon”, she turns his shoulders, watches him close the gate, reach his car, wave, and then his pirate’s smile, that flash of teeth. He slips into the car, drives away, and she stands for those last few moments, gathering herself, seeing the empty space, then walks inside, closes her door, still feeling him holding her hard , the strength of fingers clutching her arms and the bitter sweet taste of him, lingers on her lips.

AFTER THE FUNERAL

He calls me, late at night…”How are you ?,” I say, voice croaky with sleep.

“Arrrgh, sorry, so sorry to wake you, it’s just…..I’ve been thinking “

and coming fully awake now “it’s all right, tell me?”

“I want to spend time with my sister’s kids….get them out of the house. I don’t know if I’m asking too much of you….but I want you there with me”, I hear the breath catch in his throat, the hesitancy, but I also hear the need, and even deeper down, his knowing, knowing I’ll agree. 

It’s a simple straightforward request, I could no more refuse him, than I could refuse the three children, so, I tell him “Yes”, adding “ it’s not a matter of helping you out, although I am happy to. I WANT to do something for those children, who’ve already seen too much, of one kind of life….not enough of the other” and then, inspired “let’s take them camping, what do you think?”

“Camping? Where?”

“Come see me, soon as you can…..we’ll figure it out”,  and then another small silence, “What? What is it?” I ask him….

“I want to be with you now”, and I hold the phone, listen to his breathing, speak very quietly to him, “Come, come now, come and sleep the night with me, we’ll make some plans tomorrow “, and his voice, rougher now, “I don’t want to sleep “, and me “neither do I,” so, “come, drive carefully, but hurry,”  and then there’s laughter…..I end the call and lie quiet, in the late night pre dawn dark, waiting, waiting for him.