20 August, 2006

love thy neighbor

“I love you.”
She said this despite herself.
He watched her lips unfurl like a fern, while his thoughts drifted to his daily schedule. He needed to dig a trench for the new power line, and take a shit. This doesn’t sound like much, but he always had to take a dump when he was out in the field without paper. She waited for a miracle, thinking his intelligent constitution meant he had changed the words that would come out of his mouth. But that look was a faker, and he refused her a second time. Mary sighed heavy at the foreshadowing of Roland’s lack, and took inventory of his cupboards like he was leaving till spring. She noted his absolute economy in the seemingly thorough fare of staples, until she realized he lacked oil. That was exactly the sort of man he was. He stocked his pantry full of damn practical winter means, but would up and forget to conserve his grease. He prided himself in proving his economy while he shriveled up inside like a frost bitten tender leaf. That man let his grease stink into the ground like he is a rich man who didn’t have to conserve for winter.

Mary stood up and made her way to the door. “Well, I gather you are pleased with our trade. I reckon I’ll be making my way back up Hog Skin Branch.” She didn’t wait for nuance, and went to fetch her sweater. Life wasn’t so easy after he had told her he would never love her.
The last romance of fall crackled beneath her feet as she made her way west. She could smell the first scent of poplar smoke from the Rice homestead, and decided they had lost their minds burning such sorry wood, but knew they couldn’t cut much these days in accordance to their ill conditions.
The afternoon shadow fell shapely against the holler. Light doesn’t shine sharp as it should Mary said to her self as she made her way up the road. Light never gets concise in these parts except for when it is hunkered down in corners past daybreak. Pangs of October alarmed her, knowing that November meant a quiet panic. She felt anxiety because this would be her first winter alone. And, she wasn’t sure could recall all of her familial upbringing addressing survival. Most of her childhood focused on this moment The moment she would arrive here, needing the knowledge of survival she lacked. She knew how to start fires, can preserves, and find certain poetic foliage, yet she was not assured in her confidence that her ancestry had provided her with the spiritual endurance to spend a winter alone on Hog Skin Branch.

Roland went to fetch his truck like it was an animal. He had to warm her up with words that ignite. He began with saying nothing. Not saying a word. He assumed the truck would just up and lick his hand. When that didn’t blossom, he spilled forth with colorful language that bemused the wild turkey as much as it would Mary. Both birds liked to walk away from him with tongue in cheek, as though they needn’t mind if he ever called on them again. The truck started, and Roland made his way back over to the Ramsey site.
He wanted an easy woman. Not a whore, but someone that did things like he wanted. He wanted one that smiled and led straight through with that smile. One that wasn’t one way, then the next. Someone simple, but not too dumb. Mary. She was a ‘coon charm. She sparkled and caught his eye in a way that could only mean unhappiness. How can something shiny last?
Mary gathered up her shoe shine kit and sat on the porch. Tomorrow was Sunday, and she had to shine her dim looking boots for Sunday service. She had never considered going to the Southern Baptist church till after she got lonely up on the hill. The monthly bee’s with her mother’s friends and the seasonal party left her spirit lacking. Eventually her thoughts tumbled down towards the white washed church with its solo outhouse across the street.
First you rub in the polish in a circular motion, and then you buff it out. It is real straight forward, but gives results. It is almost a miracle how shiny you can make your everyday boots. People have relied on this method for a long time she said to her self as she made plans for supper and plotted rows for a winter garden.

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