He fades, blurs, into the chintzy floral walls of his mother’s best room. He is shirtless, his bare translucent skin carries tattooed memories of disapproval. Under his eyes the blue grey tissue paper bags of exhaustion, his nose and mouth split, and through the scabs he tells them the truth. You were fighting again, weren’t you? his mother interrupts. No, it wasn’t like that, he wasn’t fighting this time.
Let him finish, his father says. She hit me, the young man says simply. Tara hit me. She’d punched him in the face, perfect red lacquered nails curled inward, her left hook a balled up pampered-cat’s paw with the strength of a tiger. I bought her that ring, he said, touching his top lip. You can’t tell anyone. They could hardly believe him, his gaze exploring empty space, contemplating something far away, out the bay window and past the front gate.
His mother tells his father, he’s only been fighting again. Fancy blaming Tara for it. It’s those lads he runs around with from the council estate. She turns to her son. You’ve been warned about them before!
His father puts his hand on his son’s shoulder. No one needs to know, don’t worry. But you’ll have to call the engagement off.
But I love her, the boy says. His lip cracks open again, his mother sees the red line form like a warning. It’s just her temper. There was another girl ... I shouldn’t be so flirty ...
What a ridiculous story, his mother says. She simply will not believe it. It was those lads after all. His father says they have to call off the wedding. No one needs to know the reason why.
But I love her, the son says again, softly. We can work things out.
Kate Garrett writes poetry and fiction (often at the same time), and is the editor of Pankhearst's Slim Volume anthologies. Her pamphlet 'The names of things unseen' is forthcoming in the six-poet collection Caboodle (Prole). In real life she lives in Sheffield, and lives here on the web: www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk