FathomOnline

 

 Fathom 1998

Cover

 

Inside Cover

 

Poetry

J. Lapointe
Colleen Shea (2)
Michelle Banks
Maud Alexandra Arthur
Jacqueline Martin
V. Combden
Mary Kate Arnold
Neil Dauphinee

Prose

Mary Kate Arnold
Michael Catano
Kirt Callahan

[PDF]

Mary Kate Arnold

 

 

The Wiggler

She curls her fingers under the cuff of her mustard jacket, hiding her newly-sized cameo ring circling her baby finger. The cameo from Grammy Boyle, who still lives and quilts and bakes, making Hardanger pillows to put to new uses. The ring a gift from Howard when he was still living, Howard who claimed as his own all the hard-boiled eggs in the fridge. All of them marked H.B. in Grammy Boyle’s impeccable script. They laughed every time he drawled it out like that. Howaaaard Boyled the only man in Kentville who could make a joke of rummaging through all the fridges in town and calling everybody’s eggs his own. It says right there, see, Haaard Boiled. A man with a sense of humour that wicked and stupid and on appetite that dangerous wasn’t going to outlive his wife.
     She curls her index finger under the cuff too. The ring from her other Grammy, the one who does not still live, the one who spent years in Mahone Boy as the minister’s wife, living down the shame of a son who had to be pinned to the clothesline all day - little good it did, the way he wriggled out of those clothes to swim naked with his dog in the bay. It is looser. She moves the Greek cross of turquoise stones and tiny pearls back and forth, so it rests on the side of her finger, off-centre. Grammy Arnold wore it on Holy Days and she wears it every day.
     The sleeves are long enough to hide her long fingers, the homes of such riches. This is the jacket she wore the night before Robert left for the spectacular city, the one that would out-dazzle her, even after he had left it. He would long to go back. “It’s like a jean-­jacket, but it’s made of mustard-coloured cotton,” he told me with such wonder, running his fingers along the sleeve of my “Impetator” brand jacket and me standing, commanding nothing. He had loved her for the fabulous clothes she had, the blue and white gingham shirt she bought him at the Red Apple in Kentville, her navy cashmere sweater all the boys loved her beatle boots. “Do you think they make these in men’s sizes?” She laughed at his constant fascination with her clothes and it was never a joke. This was where his heart lay, if a heart can lie in such a silly place.
     She feigns concentration on the words on the page in front of her, seeing in sharp focus the calumping legs of the boy who is passing her in the narrow aisle of the bus. His jeans are baggy and he moves slowly. Maybe those big sneakers slow him down. I have only worn canvas sneakers and walked quickly. From the shins down, he could be the boy who came into the store last month, the one who wore a ski mask and carried something to frightening to remember. She does not look up. Maybe robbers take the bus home after their evening robberies are over. To blend in. Like I am doing now, rings hidden eyes on the page in front of me. She has taken the bus home tonight all the way from the mall at the city limits. She waited in the dark at the empty bus stop with the loud cars passing by. She leaned her back up against the concrete wall to look tough, her book not the least of the things betraying her. She never went out that far, but tonight she’d had to get her fillings redone at her new dentist’s. She’d missed her Bermudian dentist when he’d died so suddenly. She’d wondered how somebody from a place as lovely and warm as all that could come all the way to Nova Scotia to fill people’s teeth of all things. And the new dentist from Australia. Probably lovelier and warmer than all that. She’d figured, I can risk waiting in the dark tonight outside this empty mall - if somebody hits me in the face I won’t feel it for all the freezing she gave me tonight.

* * *

     “Don’t hide it” he’d said two weekends ago in his funny accent, touching the sleeve of her cashmere sweater.
     “Well there are some things you have to hide,” she’d said to John. There are good reasons for that even if I can’t yet tell you, a bare stranger, about them.
     They’d both loved the movie with all the deserts that had just come out. Like Lawrence of Arabia with girls. But neither could remember each other’s favourite scene. And he preferred Sergio Leone and the spaghetti westerns to John Ford and John Wayne. Instead of saying poetry, he said poesy. Instead of saying it right he said it like a bunch of flowers, like a posy. “Here, read me some poesy, it sounds so good when you read it on the radio.“ You bet. Best to wait and see for a while.
     “You should come sailing with me sometime,” he’d said.
     “Well, what if we capsized? I’m not such a great swimmer - I mean, I have the enthusiasm and everything, but in a life and death situation I’m not that skilful.”
     “Oh it would be safe. If we capsized we could just stand on the keel together,” he’d said.
     “I don’t know. I could man the tiller. That’s about the only thing I’ve done in my father’s boat.”
     “Person the tiller. you mean,” he’d joked.
     A weekend ago he’d said “I’ve been hiding,” another joke, when she saw him unexpectedly. The same night Robert had squeezed through the crowd to tap her shoulder some months after he’d returned from the spectacular city. To say, “Hi. You know, we should talk, I’ve been meaning to call lately.” Her: “Huh. You know. I haven’t been.” Him with the Charlie Brown face: “Oh.”
     His jokes had little humour and her answers were more forthright these days. Okay John, you hide and I’ll stay right here.

 

last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul