Look Through

Original source material

Short story

ImageWhen his mother finally pushed the screeching, forever-stunted Maximum out in the kitchen of the house, she took the funny hose that connected them and severed it.  She could not want him, she could not wait to push Maximum away.  On a dirty cold morning she clawed at the ground behind the house, the air grey and thick with frost, not yet fully touched by sun.

   Mother described her struggling with the hard winter soil.  “She gasped, screamed with frustration.  The earth knew, it knew what she was up to.”  Eventually it had to yield – earth’s just earth in the end.  She took the chord, which was shrivelling away and shoved it into the hole she had pulled apart.  The hole was then smoothed over and patted down.  She was slick with the effort and that was how we got Maximum, because you must always keep to the place where the line of your birth is buried.

“Where is mine, Mother?”

“Around my heart darling thing.  Around my heart.’

When Mother died I closed up my own heart like a parcel.  The house became stupid and dumb, sheltering no one and nothing.  Maximum and myself do not sleep in that useless shell.  My home remains with Mother.

The chord she swallowed to conceal all evidence, feeding the placenta to dogs.  After, we came Here to where histories are invented and in so doing become truth.

A woman with nothing but a hungry, maggoty baby and a tiny boy.  She loved me anyway.  We buried Mother in the back yard some years back, Maximum and myself, our home is in that small plot out back that grows weeds and cat shit.

Heat, thick and heavy with a salty humidity that scratched the skin.  Everybody’s head hurt that summer, all hunched up, the sun pressing them down.  Sweat grew like wounds on our clothing.

I was wretched, the heat adding to my suffocation.  Your face, your arms.  You came that summer and part of me forgot everything.  Every moment I’d lived was to get me here, to you.  I saw you and couldn’t remember what it was like to be without you.  In my head, in my blood, in my skin.  I didn’t want you to see my face in case you guessed everything with those eyes.

For am I not a sorry thing?  Soft mechanics put together wrong? The both of us, Maximum and I, sleeping in old tyres behind the house in our dirty little neighbourhood.  I don’t generally sleep much, but I need to hear breathing.  Breathing that is free of all that is shameful in us.  The essence of life and no more, no desire or disgust.

You came, an arm holding your belly asking the way.  From that day I loved Here.  This stupid town full of smallness, I loved it for holding you in it.  I walked its streets charmed by the graffiti on endless empty shop fronts and the glue sniffing kids, the wreaths commemorating gun shots and the stewing sea.

“Who is it coming here?”

“Just some person Maximum.  We don’t need to be worrying about him, a stranger.”

“There’s already plenty of ‘em.  Too many.”  He raised his voice at you.  You won’t remember, but I do.  Blood rushed to my face, until that day I’d forgotten I had blood, now there seemed so much in me.

“ Maximum, isn’t there enough heat without your useless temper?”  He snarled like an old neutered dog.  We went back to our card game.  You asked the way of a youngster at the other side of the derelict basketball court and went your way.

Then on I saw you often.  Sometimes lugging wood for greedy fires used for melting down metal at the scrap yard next to the school, or chatting at Chez Henri where you worked at night.  You would charm the bland, pretty girls, it was always they were drawn to you.

You need to be reminded of what was and it’s delicious for me to remember it from where we are now.  You are so lucky to have someone that loves you, that can give you these memories.  I’ve seen you grasp logs like any oaf yet you had a grace, clasping your stomach, protective without thought, so long that it had become a habit.


PART 2: 13th July


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Copyright: Elizabeth Watkin

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