Excerpt from a short story I wrote last year / Nightingale.

I came home with flowers - pretty canary yellow ones for V. I was hungry too, but not like the hunger in Violette. She was hungry for everything, all the time – dividing my days into momentary desires. I gave Violette the gift of moments she could repaint in her mind, I fed her pancakes and strawberry ice cream and late night take out, and I gave her small treasures that would temporarily silence her batting eyelashes, dancing shoes, and curious eyes that showed me a restlessness so threatening it made my nails dig for scar tissue I forgot was there.

Violette danced around the kitchen and pasted the flowers to the wall and to the ceiling and to the bottoms of chairs - and she smoked a joint I rolled the night before - a high that was mine to give, hers to take. I looked out at the sky and took a long drag. Just because the sky was sparkly and pale blue like Violette’s eyes didn’t mean that any other sky was coming – not if I didn’t want it to.  

 “I need beer,” I said as I smiled at the boy I met months ago and kept around for his stable gaze, soft fingers, and dark habits I treasured the mystery of.  Mack was watching, always watching. I spun around once more to shake off the sticky green grass that covered my bum and as I spun to the beat of a rock song I heard only once, I brought the beer bottle to my face, watching the small white smoke leave the bottle in a long trail that ended in a pop like the explosions you hear when ice hits sparkling water. I let the moment drag on to see if it would oblige. I giggled at the absurdity of the early afternoon. How marvelous it was to be so unsure of what you would want in just a few moments time!

I could see her through the window, singing to the sky and dancing to a song she made different each time she sang it - perhaps in an effort to grow closer to the way she heard it first. But no, perhaps she was moving further and further from what she heard, trying to distance herself from the notes, one by one. And eventually, the song would be as foreign to her as the memory it once held. As I looked at her outside in the garden, in an olive green blouse and denim overalls that hit just below her pale butt cheeks, I wondered what sorts of memories she had.

I thought of my own memories, dark and frightening - the ones you chose not to share. The memories that ate away at everything good. I could be a different man, one that I wanted to stay very far away from V. She was the thing that grounded me to this world, allowed me to see a side of myself that had no ties to my memories.

I looked back outside, hoping to find her eyes, but she was gone. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine her silk white dress, yet all I could see was an image of a girl who screamed in her sleep, whose lips had only been touched by her baby pink chap stick, and a girl who seemed to belong to no one. I saw a girl with sandy blonde hair who wore white cowboy boots with mud on the tops and “for my baby” etched in the soles. I wondered.

Nightingale // Meaghan Murphy 

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