#8 (496 words)

Marie remembers when she first saw her. Her hair, dark gray marbled with veins of white. Marie wanted to feel it in her hand, its frizz tangled in her fingers. She imagined it smelled of alfalfa- fresh, mineral, healthy. And Marie loved it best when she wore it loose, a symbol of freedom, abandon, openness. So many women her age had that butcher job- short, practical, died some unnatural reddish color- but easy to manage.

“What?” Polly’s hand goes to her hair, tries to smooth it down, tuck it behind her ears.

“Don’t.” Marie says, taking the other woman‘s hand into her own. Marie is not afraid of this. She has thought about it since the first time she saw her. Marie has thought about it her entire life- through her marriage to Tiny who was a good man. While raising Moses and Shiloh. Tiny’s dead and the children are grown and busy. It’s sad that she had to be gray before loving and being loved the way she was meant to.

Marie can walk on her own. Her dark skin is still quite supple at age sixty-seven- as is her shape. Polly’s teeth are her own, big clean incisors, minute serrations, beautiful. They had to be gray, but happy to be able to, if only for a while, if only with this brief touch, with this other woman, be the most real she‘s ever been in her life.

She stares at that head of hair. Polly feels those dark eyes combing through it slowly, her face weathered not by hard things but fullness, and smiles completely. “Let’s walk.”

They hold hands strolling the garden and talk about the orange sunsets of their youths, their mothers, men, their children. At night, in Polly’s apartment, they sip coffee and laugh and argue because they are strong. Later, they kiss each other. This is their first time. Their first time that is meant and honest. Of them. They touch skin and look at each other and Marie rubs Polly‘s hair across her breasts.

When Delia notices them walking the dewy garden one morning, notices Marie’s fingers twirling and twisting a lock of Polly’s hideous scraggly hair, dislikes the tilt of their heads toward each other, she complains to the Resident Manager, Frank. “It’s not natural, Frank. It’s disgusting. They‘re swooning like dykes.”

Frank understands Delia’s discomfort and his own, but corrects Delia saying, “The correct term is lesbian, Miss Delia. Please don’t use other terms,” and invites the women to his office for a chat. He explains that he’s been getting complaints about them. “I know you two are close friends but the affection is a little disturbing. People are getting the wrong idea.”

They know it’s strange to others. Polly’s son disowned her when she came out and Marie has never told her children. “Once my daughter told me that as far as she was concerned, I had no vagina.”

She and Polly had howled at that.

dust  (Copyright 2008 beezies)



~ by c on April 29, 2008.

2 Responses to “#8 (496 words)”

  1. do i understand correctly that r provided the title and you created the story around his suggestion? that in itself is brilliant, because his inclusion could serve to fortify your creativity and ward off future mass work deletions. plus, your voice is so authentic– i buy what you’re selling, fabricated or not, and i’m amazed at your ability to “create”.

    i asked him for 12 titles, he gave me thirteen.
    And they’re good.
    So i read them over and see what comes.

    i keep trying to persuade him to post some of his new poems,
    which are quite wonderful,
    but he resists.

    Thank you for the kind remarks-
    so much gold coming from you.

  2. This whole 500 words thing is fascinating me now. And challenging me to sharpen my own skills. I doubt I’ll pull it off with your grace and great skill.

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