Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lump sum payment

So she sat on the curb with the babe in her arms, not sure what to do next. She had the pram on one side and a shiny-white stack of diapers on the other, disposable, enough for maybe two, three days. At least the kid was sleeping now, finally silent, face of an angel, not that puckered-up, screaming-red, snot-covered thing she was holding when the landlord banged on the door.

She took a last drag on her cigarette then stubbed it out on the concrete, sizzling. A few ants shifted their path to avoid the smoke and that was all.

Damn that Dwayne anyway, shifty bastard, saying she could stay here and he’d pay the rent and take care of her while he went about his business, then he had to go get himself thrown in the can.

Next time she hooked up with a man she’d be asking for a lump sum payment, all of it up front, that was all. You just couldn’t count on these guys for more than the occasional pizza congealing in its cardboard box, or if they were feeling flush, a six-pack that they’d drink all of anyway, feet still in their dirty shoes criss-crossed on top of her magazines, her coffee table.

She coughed, tasting nicotine phlegm and shifted the dead-weight of the babe up onto her shoulder, shoving the diapers by the handful into the front of the stroller. She'd have to come back for her other junk later, if she could track down a friend with a car. These flip-flops weren’t going to get her feet very far, but at least they'd get her downtown. There she could look for a girlfriend to shack up with for a night or two, someone to talk with over thick black coffee and smokes long into the evening.


Woman in a Window said...

Is it a bad thing that this hurts my heart? It's not the lack of money or stuff or provision, it's the lack of beauty. I wanna say, hey lady, look at that baby and touch it's face, draw your finger silently round its chin, and then get up and flip flop away. Powerful.

Karen said...

What a great, complete piece. I think of you as a poet, and then I read this! This has broadened my thinking.

I share Woman in a Window's feelings about this.

Marty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marty said...

A very sad snippet - I do hope that she finds her heart or gives the baby to someone who can show love.

RachelW said...

Sometimes it's like my life twins itself, and goes two different paths. This is one of those twinned-lives that has haunted and enticed me ever since I was about 16-- the young woman with the baby, surviving on their own, as best they can. I knew a lot of women who took this path, back in the day. I don't think there's a lack of love there; it's as fierce as ever. It just doesn't come to the forefront when you're coping with crisis all the time.

As an aside, I'm experimenting with the comment moderation feature. Right now, I'm not moderating comments on new posts (anything up to 3 days old). I'm going to see how it goes, in terms of spam, rude comments etc. I do get rude and vulgar comments from time to time, but so far, it's only happened with the animal/environmental advocacy material I've posted on here, and usually on older posts. If the spam gets out of control, I'll have to start moderating again. I'm hoping this works out. It sure is nice to have your comments appear right away! :)

Vevay Anderson said...

Beautifully written!

BTW, I am also a 'sidewalk worm saver'. When I was young I had a special place where I took them all.

Ghost Dansing said...

makes 'ya kinda wonder where it's all headed for her...... i thought of this......

....Down by the riverside motel,
Its 10 below and falling
By a 99 cent store she closed her eyes
And started swaying
But its so hard to dance that way
When its cold and theres no music
Well your old hometown is so far away
But, inside your head theres a record
Thats playing, a song called

Hold on, hold on

Lisa said...

powerful rachel- and terrifying too- that poor child xx

RachelW said...

Vevay, wonderful :) More coming on the sidewalk worms!

Thank you Ghost, and Lisa. Ghost, it also reminds me of this:

Ghost Dansing said...

... every stone a story, like a rosary

RachelW said...