Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Saturday Afternoon Company

By Fiona M. O’Downey

Of the two women, perched like dusty birds on the sagging remains of a once fine red velvet fainting couch, the daughter saw the stranger first. From her vantage point on the porch of the ramshackle dog trot house, propped almost incidentally under the eaves by two long poles and the Grace of God, his sudden appearance had startled, but not frightened her. The noon sun was high up, knife bright, chopping up the shadows into bits, when he came up over the crest of the ridge. A gaunt figure, silhouetted black against the toneless sky, the daughter saw him pause briefly, then limp down into the windbreak of ragged slash pine that delineated the boundaries of Bodies Flat Land.

She saw him first because it was as if, she reasoned, she had somehow been expecting him. She had been day dreaming, rambling in her mind to a place where young fellas with polka dot bow ties and clean hands proffered exotic gifts like ice cold Co-Cola's and picture show passes. Her hands worked lazily and of there own accord at the unshelled pile of yellow butter beans in her lap; she wondered, but just for an instant, why the man hadn't come by the Town Road like all the others... then, gazing out to where the sun dappled earth was splashed with various attitudes of shifting light and shadow, she dismissed the thought. It was Saturday afternoon after all, the man was company and company meant money. She didn't want to know anymore.

The mother bore a heavy set face which had a discernible expression of hopelessness. Her small watery blue eyes had taken on the hues of a summers evening at sunset, in that winking moment when the last of the light is lost. She too wore bib jeans faded in such a way that the woman and her garment had become one solid grey washed unit. Her large fingers worked automatically at the pile of beans in her lap; she dropped them into a rusty bucket between her bare feet, the pods she tossed into a heap behind her. The daughter was simply a thinner repetition, only distinguished by the fact that she had a really ugly wall eye; a round white thing that protruded from it's socket like a misshapen marble. The other eye was a deep clear blue, and her curly blond hair was twisted up into a scraggly top knot. She had taken extra care with it today, because she had been hoping for early company. They hadn't had any Saturday afternoon company for a spell of a time.


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copyright 2013, Fiona M. O'Downey

Fiona was born in Utica NY in the East end, in a house that her great grandparents purchased in 1905. There were never-ending stories told around the kitchen table, the dining room table, any table. Reading well by the age of four, she commenced  to enhance her literary knowledge by stealing books from the library. Her favorites were fat tomes with lots of pictures, although these were difficult to hide under a coat.  Fiona somehow managed her capers until the librarians called Mom, who was unaware a treasure of literary works was abuilding beneath Fiona's bed, where no one had cleaned in ages.   A trip to the local parish church for the sacrament of confession ended the whole sordid affair when Fiona was edicted by a representative of God here on earth to cease and desist.  That's the last time she took an order from anyone in authority.

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