Friday, November 30, 2007

What you long for

Nelly! You come down here this instant! Supper’s ready and your Pa is coming in from the barn!”

Nelly sighed and turned over in bed, face toward the ceiling and undone pigtails fanning out around her on the plain white pillow. Her lips parted slightly as she imagined her lover kissing them once more, and she sighed again.

She then sat up like a ramrod in bed, patted her belly, straightened out her shirt over the long pleated skirt, and headed to the bathroom to wash up. Pa did like a clean girl at his table. Nelly knew the penalty for not being clean, and after that last punishment she was determined not to be a dirty girl ever again.

The thirteen steps down the farmhouse stairs clumped under her sensible shoes, the fifth one from the bottom creaking as it always did, even when a girl as slight as Nelly stepped on it. Pa didn’t like to fix that stair, said it kept the girls in line and kept them away from sneaking out the house. The boys, lucky them, stayed in the guest house out back, and had free run after they turned 13. Nelly was 15, and had yet to make it out of the yard without some brother or other at her side.

No, the rules weren’t fair, but at least there were the parlor books to dream by. A girl could travel to far-off places and learn things from books, and if she kept her mouth shut about them at supper then she could keep on reading them. Pa was all right about that.

Nelly wasn’t so sure though if Pa knew what was in those books in the parlor. He was a simple man, and never did learn to read more that what would tell him if the shopkeepers were cheating him. She wondered though, and so never kept a book for long. This last one had spent the longest time with her, and even then she traded it out every few days for something dull, just to make him think she wasn’t stuck on the picture of the stone man in that book about Italy.

The haunting face struck her first. The smooth whiteness, the lush mouth, the tumbling curls. Strong stone shoulders, slim marble hips, the small shy cock, the rock-hard legs; Nelly was transfixed from the first moment. She knew his name was David, that he was a fighter like her. She also knew he was a statue, but in the long nights alone in her spare bedroom he loved her, taking the place of Pa and the boys.

Nelly knew as long as she kept quiet about that book, she could look at her lover. As her belly swelled, she imagine it was full of his hard seed. As her breasts grew, she pretended they were filling with liquid marble.

Six months later, when the child was born, it was blue as granite. Nelly named him David, and died happy.


This for the Wordsmiths.

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