Weeks of Nights, Days of Ice
2011 Gordon Award for Flash Fiction
A HOT ROD FORD, PRIMERED, LOWERED, LOUD AND DEFIANT, NOT A VEHICLE PARENTS LIKED TO SEE IN THEIR DRIVEWAYS, IDLING WITH MENACE. Quiet now, and occupied in the still, star-breathing night. Penny and Butch in some kind of locked-together pain yet not that, just what was referred to in the 50’s as heavy petting, adding moist sighs to the close and humid darkness, the barely moving trees.
Then, yes, that. The moon turned over in the stomach of time. A first for both. The freedom of sentencing. The explosion of gifts.
The radio played softly, Heartbreak Hotel. No turning back, like diving.
Weeks of nights and music and newness; they are acknowledged as a couple at the drive-in, solemn over their Cokes.
They have entered a new dimension, and both secretly long for the less complicated one now closed to them.
But this morning Penny arrives at Butch’s house early, before he goes to work. Summer job at the icehouse scoring and breaking 300lb cakes of ice into smaller blocks for crushing and pouring into 10lb bags. For this he wears a parka and engineer boots, heavy socks and sweatshirts that he dons in the 20 degree cold inside the icehouse.
She looks luminous in a summer dress with flowers all over it, bare legs, shoulders tanned and she says, I’m pregnant.
He says oh. Oh? You’re. He searches for an appropriate response, but the one in the movies where the man sweeps the woman off her feet laughing in the air and says that’s wonderful is not it. His jaw drops.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m three weeks past. And my mom asked me if I was. She could tell.”
“I’ll umm join the Air Force. You’ll live with me on base.” He was not sure of this at all, he seventeen, she sixteen.
“My dad’s doing it today. An abortion.”
Her dad was a doctor of some kind, he thought a chiropractor maybe. Could they do these things?
“He’s closed the office for today, it’s just us, him and me.”
He’s her stepfather he thinks, not real father. Relief mingles with unidentifiable feelings. Her face is wet he sees. He kisses her but she is wooden, he tastes the tears. He will never forget this taste.
“I’m not supposed to tell you. You are never to know, okay?”
“The way he feels about you. And he thinks you would tell and he could lose his license.”
He is silent.
She says, “He scrapes it out.”
That man with his thin mustache, scraping. He is starting to cry. Anger. Helplessness.
On the way to the icehouse the radio plays BlueBerry Hill. The hot wind flows through the open windows.
The tongs spark crystals from the 300lb block as he pulls it across the ice floor with a scraping noise.
In a way, Guinotte Wise is new to writing. Fiction anyway. But writing is not novel to him. He’s been a writer and creative director in advertising for most of his working life. He is also a sculptor and his work, both welded steel and words, can be seen on http://www.wisesculpture.com/
| Our Stories Literary Journal, Inc. © 2006 |