Friday, March 04, 2011

Knitting and Patching - Chapter 1

It began out of simple curiosity.

My lovely son, Alex, was born with that quality, always so bright and curious and questioning, exploring every minute fact and ellipsis in his text books.

The boy loved to read. He'd often curl up under the glow of that yellow lamp with a hardbound book dipped into the sepia of times past, while I sat at my favorite chair, knitting and knitting away. I would smile to myself as I saw him turning the pages of some Dickensian fantasy, delving deeper and deeper into a complex factory of turning gears and rusted hinges.

"Oh dear..." he said one night. His eyes remained glued to the pages, still translating phrases.

"What is it, m'dear?" I replied in mock concern accompanied by a slight teasing smile, the kind reserved for inquisitive children and Alzheimer's patients.

Alex went into a long explanation of the plot. A man charged with murder, a chase, a shootout with the police, a narrow escape, all culminating in the man being buried alive. He was most concerned with that last plot point. He spoke on and on, long into the night about being locked inside a cramped coffin and covered over in tons and tons of dirt, sweating, panicking, suffocating...

Burial in media res.


Alex's father, Thomas, was a troubled man whom I supposed I loved at some point. The drinks-more-than-he-speaks type with the habit of smoking in the shower.

The stench of those cigarettes I'll never forget. Walking into the bathroom, still steaming and misty, only to be greeted by the odor of tobacco rolled into an aged, rotting pork, a smell that only carried over to the bedroom. His sweaty body lying atop mine reminded me of the time I had left some deli meats on the thermostat for four days. I would hear him snoring before either of us came close to orgasm.

Blunt, passionless. Just like his cigarettes.


I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that one night. Alex was eight, reading one of his mystery novels while I knitted a deep magenta scarf. The crescent moon outside was perfect, the kind of moon you don't forget, and our stomachs were still warm with a meaty stew and arugula salad.

As suddenly as a clearing fog, Alex asked "how did he die?".

He was staring at the wall covered in framed photos, the wall that had been plastered Thomas's brain matter and bone fragments.

I had been out getting groceries with an infant Alex when Thomas decided enough was enough and committed himself to the trigger of his hunting rifle. The smell of rancid bacon took months to vacate that wall.

I paused before answering Alex, mabe too long. Something I couldn't explain kept me from telling him the truth, something I couldn't explain. The smell, the lack of passion, the fact that I had never cum during our entire relationship.

How did he die?

"Well, dear, your father was a sailor. He shipped goods on a big ship. Fabrics and meats, in fact. Yes, that's it! But one stormy night, his ship was overtaken by the waves. The ship, and the crew, including your father, were all lost at sea, blasted to bits. Your father drowned, like being buried alive but with the ocean instead of dirt."

Alex stared at me with his head slightly tilted. Maybe too long.

"I know this is terrible news to hear, especially so late..."


"Yes, dear. I'm sorry, I should have told you before..."

The heater clicked on in the vents.

Alex was thinking. I could see the cogs turning behind his eyes.

"What is it, dear?"

"Well, that's not what he told me."

1 comment:

Tasha said...

Wow, I want to read more! I love "dipped into the sepia of times past", what great imagery!