Fiction: Death Of All But Bone

July 13, 2018 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

Igor Starkov photo

 

By

Abigail George

 

 

You don’t have any friends here with you. I could be your friend for the night. Ah, I see that’s made you smile. How long have I been on the radio? A while. The pay is good. I live. I live well. The people I work with are rather nice. I thought it would always be temporary, you know. It just never turned out that way. Seems like I have a gift for it. You seem to be on edge tonight. Did you have a bad day? No. I seem be doing all the talking here. Women it seems to me love to talk.

Nobody’s ever told you that you’re pretty. I can tell that about you.

My mother always told me I could read people really well. I find it hard to believe that nobody has ever told you how perfectly lovely you look especially like this. It’s not that dark here yet. I find your features perfect and lovely. Don’t you even know how beautiful you are? You’re blushing. Don’t feel embarrassed. Nothing to feel embarrassed about. There’s something so perfect about this evening. About meeting a new person that you feel that you can say anything to and they won’t judge you or anything like that. And the day goes on and on and on.

 

How do you feel? Fine. Can I get you something to eat, something to drink? Fine. You don’t drink. Why are you here then? Can I ask you something? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. You come here to meet people too. To meet men or women. To befriend men or women. I think a lot of the time men come here to sleep with women, forget their names in the morning, their faces. People look different in the morning light, don’t you think. How old do you think I am? No,

I’m not as old as all that. Dad called me an old soul. Maybe we’re both old souls. I have life. You have life if you didn’t know it. I’ve inherited the spells and magic of making conversation out of thin air.

I love talking. Maybe that is why I’ve been so successful on radio.

Women I think have always felt the pressure from other women to be beautiful, to fight growing old, to fight the assignment of oppression, and gender equality. I’ve always wonder what that is.

Gender equality. I’m trying hard to make you understand that in high school I was really popular. The first guy to kiss a girl. I’m still athletic. Still try to keep in shape. I gym. Have a trainer.

 

You were a late bloomer. I’m guessing. Guess I’ve guessed right again. You don’t talk much do you? What does a medical doctor who works in the emergency room like you do to escape humankind? Ah, the cinema.

Independent films. Art movies. Books. Classical music. The opera. That is way, way out of my league. Wow! You’re so young. Just a baby. And yet you’re so, so knowledgeable. Film and books. Reading I mean is not my scene at all. So, you see these pictures of beautiful women who are writers, and you want to believe that you are actually one of them.

 

Make me understand that. Anuradha Roy. Jhumpa Lahiri. Kiran Desai. Zadie Smith. Chimamanda Adichie. Zukiswa Wanner. Sisonke Msimang. Lauren Beaukes. NoViolet Bulawayo. Arundhati Roy. No, I’m not laughing at you. I’ve never heard of any one of them. It shouldn’t make you feel sore. I’m sure you’re a good writer and perhaps that there are other things that you’re good at too, besides mathematics and the physics and chemistry in science. You’ve won a prize. Wow, babe. For a story. I’d like to read that story sometime. Want to tell what it’s about in a more quiet space.

 

I could buy you a meal someplace. There’s a place I like to go not too far from here after work with my colleagues. It’s a seafood place. You like seafood. You should try it. You should try being more adventurous. You’re so quiet no all of a sudden. Cat got your tongue.

It feels as if I’ve been doing all the talking. Sometimes I smile too, and then I’m distracted by something out of the blue. I remember something sad from childhood. Instead there’s this veil of longing for something but I don’t know what it is. Is it a longing to be in the world, fix society? To be relevant. To be divine.

 

Tell me this. Will you let me kiss me? Will you let me make love to you? Will you say please, and thank you as if you were brought up with good manners, to respect your mother and father, to honor and obey your mother and your father? I ask you all of these things because first I believe that all women should be obedient and submissive and trusting of the men that they fall in love with, and secondly, because I believe that you are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met in my life.  You were really graceful on the dance floor when I was holding you in my arms.

 

And with that, the girl at the bar-restaurant turned in her chair, stood up. Reached for her bag. She put her arm through his and smiled up at him, even though her smile did not reach her sad eyes.

 

And the man walked a little ahead of her. He did not see her smile. He just felt the pressure of her slender arm in his.

 

 

 

 

 

Abigail George

Pushcart Prize nominee Abigail George is a South African-based blogger, essayist, poet and short story writer. She briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School followed by a stint at a production company in Johannesburg. She has received two writing grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, one from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town, and another from ECPACC in East London. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Aerodrome, Africanwriter.com, Bluepepper, Dying Dahlia Review, ELJ, Entropy, Fourth and Sycamore, Gnarled Oak, Hackwriters.com, Itch, LitNet, Mortar Magazine, Off the Coast, Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, Piker Press, Praxis Magazine Online, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Spontaneity, The New York Review, and Vigil Pub Mag. She has been published in various anthologies, numerous times in print in South Africa, and online in zines based in Australia, Canada, Finland, India, Ireland, the UK, the United States, across Africa from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

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