Inner Itch

Image Credit Charlesroper

THWACK! My fly swatter made contact with the dashboard, not the fly. The fly spun in the air toward the back seat of the car where the baby snoozed, neck contorted, his plump lower lip sticking out and gleaming with spit. The fly landed on the baby’s plump, white arm.

“Lovely,” I groaned, catching my own eyes in the rearview mirror. The fly is now throwing up its microscopic stomach contents onto the baby’s skin. The baby’ll suck that same wrist all slobbery and sticky when he wakes up. I’ll have to get to him before he does. I glare at the drivers side window. This window is why the stupid fly got inside and now sits on the baby’s arm in the first place. This. Stupid. Window.

I guess if I’m going to blame the window for my problems, I may as well blame the loser who bought a car with a window that wouldn’t roll all the way up in the first place. That idiot is my younger, slightly more attractive sister, Layla. Being twenty four with breasts like melons and hair from a Pantene commercial does not afford Layla with the foresight to anticipate needing a window to close all the way when driving through the sweaty, insect infested roads outside Houston-hot-as-hell’s-asshole-Texas. Stupid Junior College Dropout.

The fly is taunting me. This is now clear. It has flown to the ceiling above the back window, I can actually see the blasted thing rubbing it’s creepy little hands together. I wish Layla would hurry up so I can pee, and then maybe I’ll forget about the fly altogether. It’s just a distraction really. I’m not dense.

My cigarettes are empty. Layla again. Though, I guess maybe I shouldn’t smoke with the baby in the backseat like that. Secondhand smoke kills. It killed our cousin Larry. Larry had a brother who smoked like the tailpipe of a dying jalopy. His brother burned their trailer down with a lit cigarette while Larry slept off his high in the bathtub. Larry was an idiot.

Out my back window, where the fly now crawls, I see a rusty red pick-up squeal into the parking lot. My heart in my ears. That’s his truck. The truck! Layla. I grab my cell and text rapid fire:

Trck, hrry, go round back — bring tp, i still hav to p. 

It’s too late. Layla, her shiny blonde hair and vacant blue eyes, those long legs that used to be so tan and muscular, saunters the front door of the Stop-N-Go. She’s not looking because she’s pulled out her phone to see my text. She doesn’t see him rush her, his t-shirt showing off tan arms made for beating little woman, the lip of his cap blocking his face from the security camera. She doesn’t notice until his hand grips the hair at the top of her head, a huge clump of golden, and yanks her into the truck. I see him send a lightening quick smack to her face and then I don’t think anymore. Inside I feel the itch to press my foot to the pedal. At least the baby, me, and that damned fly will get away.

This post was inspired by BeKindRewrite’s stellar InMon prompts.

Crickets

The fire-like leaves of an aged oak rustled above Polly’s head as she lay watching clouds carried by the wind. Blue sky and the birds overhead — mockingbirds she thought — the sun dappled prairie that stretched beyond her forever, like a sheet of paper she could write her life on. This was her childhood playground. It had been years since she’d been here, she’d never really intended to come back, and now she was. Now she was laying in the same place she ‘d spent almost every afternoon as a girl. The same place where she’d seen him fall.

The memory crashed to the front of her brain like a truck to a brick wall. Tanner staring at her through the tree’s limbs, backlit by the noonday sun. Smiling. He had the most beautiful smile. White teeth, crooked on the bottom, his lips pink and soft. He always wore chapstick.

She closed her eyes, banishing his image from her mind. This was why she didn’t want to come back here. She stood up, brushing the debris from the ground off her jeans and straightening the hem of her denim button down. Clothes she’d uncovered in the attic of the house. Boxes of her mothers things, from the years before her mother stopped trying, stopped keep up the appearance of a woman who cared.

Polly had spent her entire life trying to get away from the truth, one that ended a life she loved more than her own. She’d wandered around. She’d had meaningless flings with tall, dark, northerners who talked about Faust and Niche. She’d made herself a medallion wearer, two years now, sober and sulking. She’d liked the feeling of a motor buzzing her away from his sandy blonde hair. Or how the boys in New Hampshire had all complimented her accent and the freckles made from too much time in the sun.

The truth was, Polly had enjoyed the distance, but then her trek was halted. Her mother had finally given up completely, the war she’d fought with a man Polly was supposed to call “Daddy” had ended, and it had been accompanied by a loaded shot gun. But what could Polly have done about that? She hugged herself, the smell of her mother’s perfume in her nose somehow, and she felt a tear squeeze into the corner of her eye. She could have done more than she wanted to admit, but she couldn’t with his memory hanging onto her like a barnacle.

She bent her knees, plucking from the ground a lonely, fading bluebonnet. The wind caught her hair, sending it out from her neck like she’d been shocked. No, she hadn’t helped her mother, just like she didn’t warn Tanner he was too high. Just like she didn’t believe him when he said his head hurt from the fall. Polly’s silence had killed them both.

“Remember what your mother told you,” Tanner’s words as he limped up the hill. “Listen to me, Polly Anne. Listen to my heart, and not my words.” Tanner was talking nonsense, but he was right, and she should have listened.

This post was inspired by a brilliant InMon Prompt.

The Monster Saved Me

There’s a door in the floor of my granny’s house. It sits under the rug we use to wipe our feet on. Bayou stench festers on this rug. The smell of dead earth — that lingering hideousness of a body rotting into the ground. Every time we get the rains, more show up, more coffins the ground couldn’t hold. The coffins remind me I’m mortal. Sometimes I forget. It’s easy when I wear the cape Papaw made me from the duck cloth he uses to mend the sails of his shrimper. The cape is red, it repels water and knives. But it calls to the monster that lives under the floor of my granny’s house. The door to his prison — the prison my granny made for him.

Granny invited the Priest over for tea in the parlor. The Priest stood right on top of the monsters door, his bible in his hand, his collar crisp and white. He’s talked a lot about my sins since he got here. I’m a sinner. I’m too old to be wearing a cape and saying whatever comes to my mind. The Priest says Gran can’t help me, but he can — the church can, he corrects with a smirk.

I tap the handle of my knife on the crisp white lace tablecloth. I sip my tea through my teeth. Every time, Granny closes her eyes like that will block out the sound of my slurps. The Priest is asking me if I understand my sins. I nod. I’m a girl with dirty fingernails, who won’t sit through Mass and refuses to go to confession. I got no interest in cooking and my hair mats at the back from laying in the grass by the bayou with boys in dirty overalls. I’ve spread my legs too much. Granny says she’s knows I’m just like my momma that way. She don’t know the half of it though.

Gran agrees. I need some reform — a ruler to my thighs. I need to see the monster. He’d know what to do about my problem with civility. He’d know what to say to the Priest that would make him stop eying me like a piece of dirty meat. The Monsters voice is a whisper in my ear. Even when I’m swearing to Granny I never opened the door. That cellars off limits, Noula, you mind me or else. The threat’s wasted now. There is no or else. Or else is a few days away, its a uniform of white knee socks and plaid that sits on my bed.

The Priest is leaving. His long fingered hand covers my shoulder and squeezes, too hard for a Man-of-the-Cloth. Granny wants me to carry the tray. Yes, ma’am, I say sourly. The rug over the door is all furled. The Priest’s collar, a corner all starched and stiff, peaks from the crack in the door. I’ll get it later, I think, after the bones are all clean.

Written as an InMon prompt. My first in a very long time.