BY MARTHA WILLIAMS
The glass fell and amber liquid splashed. The man growled but it didn’t make much difference; the track for his tongue was laid a thousand whiskies ago. He only has to flinch from a bad day, bad bet, bad job… and he’s onto her. Sweet release. He can feel his pains pour out.
I don’t love you.
Never did, but least when you was young, you was pretty.
Now look. Your belly’s hanging, whole of you’s hanging.
She just sighs; heard it a million times. The tears that pricked her ugly eyes would never have flowed, had it not been for her father’s pen.
On her bedside table. Inches from her shit head.
She can still see her father’s face, aghast.
A tiny girl, blood spilling from one knee.
Baby, baby, kisses and fear, she’d nearly had to console him. But not quite. His hold had calmed them both.
His lips on her knee.
Her face to his chest.
His cheek on her scalp.
And his words.
He built her as a playwright crafts a scene. For a lifetime he balanced the trickle of his love, his thoughts, his hope… his self… into her ears, until she became his story. He didn’t spill a drop. She was his inkwell and his page.
And she shone, drawing readers to her until she was plucked from her shelf and placed on another man’s pillow, to be his bedtime. A man who never understood the power in her father’s pen. Who, for his want of words, could only call her fat, or fucking whore.
Her father’s fears are gone. With his kisses. His chest. His cheek. As her father saw her beginning, so she saw his end. And it’s just as well because if he were here, his eyes would be aghast.
She lifts his pen to her lips.
As if he can still pour into her. Write her story.
In tears; his inkwell and his page.
She holds his words in her thick head.
And now she grips his pen, swiping the air as if to cross out all the words her father did not write. The room goes silent as she walks. Striking the fat from her face, crossing crap from her brain, cutting the ugly until she stands, unreadable upon the threshold.
Before the chapter ends, she’ll press her father’s pen upon the lintel and leave a perfect full stop.
Martha Williams chews her cud and sucks her pen here: http://www.marthawilliams.org