For the month of April, fellow author, Thea Atkinson is streaking through 30 blogs and flashing us a piece of fiction. I generously offered her a space today so she could expose a piece. My blog will be back to normal tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy and follow the links at the end to see who she flashed yesterday and who she will flash tomorrow. Feel free to leave a comment to let me know if you enjoyed the streak, and you are welcome to tweet it or share it on Facebook. You can also follow the chain through twitter with the hashtag #blogstreak
By Thea Atkinson
Seven months ago I had hair. They tell me it'll grow back eventually, although it might curl like licks of flame around a dried out log of pine. It might even come back in patches. I don't care if it ever grows back. He liked my hair, and now that the chemo has devoured it like a hungry Labrador retriever, he finds other ways to amuse himself and leaves me alone.
Last time I entertained him, months ago, before I got the cancer, he had cursed at me. All I'd said to him was that he looked like a woman with that one fingernail he kept long on his right hand: the pinky. It was white and ridged because of his thyroid trouble -- overactive, like most of him -- and he used that nail, I knew, to scoop cocaine and press it delicately to his nostrils. Like a snuff sniffer from the 1800s except there was no way he could be a gentleman. Not by a long shot.
Like a woman, I'd said to him, because he had grown soft in the chest over the years. His breasts sagged. I chuckled, thinking he'd enjoy the joke, and he seemed to at first, reached out to me as we lay together on our bed, nude, both of us. He ringed my nipple with that nail. Smiled. Three seconds later my nipple hurt. Three after that, my scalp did. He so loved my hair, he took it in fistfuls. Handfuls that he yanked hard when he beat me, or wrenched when he made love to me. My hair was always in his hands, heated in passion or in anger.
He said hair made a woman beautiful. Any woman. And every one of them should wear it long. He has no patience for short, manly styles, although even with my hair long, I still couldn't escape having to fight back like one.
So it was no good to me, hair. It attracted him because it reached my waist. At first he treated me as beautifully as he said my hair looked. He touched me as softly as it felt. But that was years ago.
Sometimes now I wonder what the neighbours think when they hear him yelling at me in the middle of the afternoon. His voice makes the glasses rattle in the cupboards, his language so foul it would taste like rotten meat if it were a meal. Doesn't matter what starts the discussion, could be a simple question about what he wants for dinner. He calls me names.
I wonder if the spinster next door rocks in her chair when she hears him yell, spilling her rosary down her chest through her fingers, thanking God with each bead that she never married. I see her walking to church in the evenings. I'm careful to keep a kerchief over my head when I peek through the curtains so she doesn't catch my scalp winking in the waning light. She always scurries past my house, afraid I suppose, my cancer is catching.
I wonder, too, if he can be heard three blocks down where the pert 20 year-old waits for him with a negligee made of lemon silk. She has black hair. Curls. He comes home now and then with strands in his collar; the smell of her perfume creeps ahead of him when he opens the door. He doesn't see me sitting in the chair watching him, praying like that spinster from next door.
I'm invisible to him now, hailing Mary quietly, but fervently for that naive brunette, with each remembered lock. I pray she catches the cancer too.
april 20 jennifer lane
april 21 deb martin
April 22 leah petersenhttp://www.leahpetersen.com/