Tattered Salvation, Store Bought Goods by Myra King
You'll never get the right answers if you ask the wrong questions.
It starts with unexpected shopping from an open-all-hours store. You know the sort, every day, 7 days, all weather, all bleeding month or year. Neon lighting, red iridescent flashing. How many innuendos can I afford? They cost more than my tattered salvation.
The checkout girl says I am last in line. She is closing her counter.
He turns his head and looks at me, he of the long dark coat and rattail behind. Good ole seventies rock and roll boy. His fingers, stained from the daisies on his shaggin' wagon, make no peace sign.
This day they have the special but no discount and no returns.
"I just had to buy some peas," he says, holding up the tin as proof.
I have no answer to this. I sure as damn ain't going to show him the sanitary pads with wings and promised protection.
My car, waiting in the dark like a patient pet, flickers lights with a muted click as I point my keys. The heavens growl their discontent with spattered spit on its windscreen.
We climb into the back seat. The car park is deserted.
Mr Pea-Seventies man breathes sweet breath, new-mown grass on my face and earns his redwings.
Afterwards I tell him my name.
You know, you think you have it all worked out. Your cynical monitor is running low, chugging along smugly without missing a beat for years and years when suddenly bam, it comes crashing down around your shoulders and hangs there. A broken yoke of your disbelief.
My denial has no hindsight, hell, it has no foresight for that matter.
And up until recently my husband was making love to me with the regularity of the weekdays.
He went shopping before I did. That's why I've turned. But perhaps what I have become has always been there, like a pimple that refuses to come to a head but lingers beneath the surface. No one sees it but you sure as hell can feel it. No wonder they call it blind.
"Whaddya think," he'd said finally, "that you were the only one? It's like this my sweet, there are green apples and red apples and sometimes you want the green and sometimes you need the red."
I didn't ask him which color I was. Peripherally I was rendered opaque.
I wouldn't have gone looking, if I hadn't had the need.
But the need has always had me twined around its fingers, probing and pushing to find the unreachable. Somewhere out there, almost- nearly- perhaps words mirror my life.
And now I feel like the little match girl with my nose pressed up against the pane of a house of the person who's always believed in love and ever after fairy tales.
And the warmth is so tantalisingly close but oh, so many light years away.
I reach out my hand to touch but it is burnt and I spring back like a frightened rabbit.
It is so far to the dawn, in this darkness I scratch up the walls of my reality, future cemented by hope, past layered in a particular order.
The joker laughs a belly full of cosmos and says, look, see what a bloody fool you have been and suffer the consequence. Ten fold, a hundred, a thousand, whatever it takes to crease you into admitting you were right and wrong.
It is far worse for the knowing.
No one knows what they are capable of, isn't that what they always say? How anyone, even a god damn ninety year old nun, who has never had a fuck, has osteoporosis and is wheelchair ridden is capable of murder. So they say.
Actually I believe it.
Women tend to prefer clean methods of disposal.
I can understand that. I would be no different. We have always been belly button deep in muck: baby shit, menstruation, snot, spew, you name your brew. It's little wonder women would want to do our killing tidily. I mean who always has to clean up the mess?
So it follows the aforesaid nun could easily (and, let's face it who would suspect) pop a little something into someone's Holy Communion. Maybe it'd be for that greasy priest who's always been trying to slip into her habit, or perhaps the parishioner who refused her years ago and that's why she ended up in this stinking school teaching for nothing.
Motives are overrated. One woman I visit on the inside even killed her husband for whistling. He was, and here's the funny part, peeling veggies for their dinner but, part of his passive resistance, because he didn't have the balls to say fuck off I've been working all day, peel your own god damn vegetables, was whistling. And none of that romantic Swannee River type shit, no, he does this monotone dirge over and over like some bloody song with no bloody ending. She asked him to stop, begged him to stop.
And in the end he did. It's pretty hard to whistle with your vocal cords severed.
Infidelity. The one word track didn't play another tune no matter how it was switched on or off, or turned over with excuses of coincidence and paranoia.
The late nights, the fractured excuses, the fumbled words, the heightened charge like tension before thunderstorm. The blood that is not mine in the trunk. The gun that is, buried beneath newly planted pines. And so I wait for time to burst, to flood my lifescape with its cooling of righteousness, wait for them to come and ask the wrong questions, with the rain of reasons I find lying behind my tongue.
Myra King is an Australian writer and a member of Ballarat Writers. She has written a number of prize winning short stories and has a short story collection published by Ginninderra Press. In 2010 her short story, The Black Horse, was shortlisted for the USA Glass Woman Prize. Her stories, articles and poetry have been published in print and online. Among other publications her work has appeared in The Pages, BuzzWords, Little Episodes, Orbis - UK.