by Mark Ulyseas
From The Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives – book available HERE
It began with a cliché. And from there moved on to a train of thought travelling on a track snaking through the darkness with murmurs of memories reverberating in her breasts. A string of failed businesses, a love that had ravaged her…leaving her spread-eagled, naked of want to the elements of adversity. Faith’s life had now become a cold sore.
She sits in Joe’s, in a corner, waiting for the writer to arrive. Her dog eared notebook lies on the table. Her poems. Joe says he will come as he puts down two glasses of absinthe on the table.
As the place starts filling up, in he walks and strolls to her table.
“Hi, I’m Patience”, he says.
“Am Faith” she replies, “is Patience your real name?”
“Nah, it’s a joke”
She pushes the notebook towards him. He picks it up, quickly flips through it and then throws it back on the table.
“Speak to me, anything,” he says and then takes a sip of absinthe. He is tired of attempting to navigate another’s thoughts.
“I…I…had an abortion last Saturday. I ran away from home when I was 14. Now am 43. Many failed businesses including selling myself, part time cook, cleaner. If I have a man in my life I want him to be rich so I can write without having the smell of cooking oil or detergent on my hands…and here in this city, this…place…I search for a home, somewhere where I can rest my head. I am tired, tired of walking, of travelling…I want a pet…and could I have another drink?” she says and then gulps down the absinthe.
“Yes…of course…Joe!…Another round please”.
Joe arrives with a bottle of the green fairy and a plate of chicken cutlets.
“Maria made these for you and your friend. It’s on the house. I will leave the bottle here, you can square up later”.
Faith dips a cutlet into the small bowl of tamarind sauce and puts it in her mouth. The spicy tangy taste mingles with ground meat between her teeth. She begins masticating.
“Thank you, Patience. This is good. Warm food and absinthe…and you to talk to…life is pleasant to me tonight. I suppose I would have to repay you?” she asks.
He smiles awkwardly at the woman in a shabby black cotton dress, hair cut short with a tattoo of a peacock on her neck…her finger nails are chipped, eyes hazel and bright.
“Where are you going, after this?” he asks.
“Nowhere at the moment…I wrote that email to you and hoped when I met you, you would give me shelter for a while…at least for a few days so that I can get better…the abortion…the doctor told me I could never have kids. My womb is scarred. It needs time to heal…perhaps in the future if I want a child I could always rent a womb, I suppose. Right now am pregnant with words.”
“And your bags, your belongings?”
She lifts a small duffel bag.
“Ah…” he replies and goes back to the embrace of the green fairy as he contemplates the woman before him…an injured soul.
“Will you help me?” she asks.
“Yes, you can stay in Joe’s spare room above this bar till you can get something sorted. I’ll pay Joe, no worries. Are you still hungry?”
“Joe, can we have a portion of Maria’s goulash, please?”
And when it is served Faith begins to eat. Soon she is wiping the bowl clean with a piece of bread.
The place is emptying. People are leaving. Soon it is just them and Joe settling up at the bar.
“Will you keep me company tonight?” she asks, expectantly.
“No. Not tonight not any night. I need lots of time to moan,” he replies.
“My soul. It left early this morning when the cock crowed. I know it will not come back soon. You understand? Or, do you?” he asks her, looking deep into her eyes.
“I suppose so. I…I don’t know, really…can’t explain it but I feel it,” she replies, wiping away her tears.
“You need to cry. You need to let go of your life…everything…and write, write like you will die tomorrow. Leave your thoughts for those that come after you. Words that will bloom in others’ minds. Words that will take root and grow like a banyan tree stretching its roots all over. And in this you will find your true self and be released from the bondage of living,” he says in a breaking voice as if talking to himself.
She reaches out, takes his hand and kisses it.
Joe comes over, picks up her bag. She follows him to her room.
The writer picks up Faith’s notebook and puts it into his coat pocket. He leaves the bar and walks slowly down the road with shadows of the night playing hide and seek between street lights. And as darkness peels away the layers of thought, he lights a Corona, blows the smoke into the night air and then murmurs…
‘I must read Faith’s words…but shall not write tonight…tonight I shall leave a page blank for the morrow when the first raucous crows will awaken me to another world…a new world full of promise.’
© Mark Ulyseas, June 25, 2015