She Stands at the Window
She stands at the window and waves until his smile is trapped behind glass. She stands and waves, and turns away only when his van turns from its place, its space outside their home, and leaves her for the day.
She twists the ring around her finger and tastes the jewel embedded in its sweep. She rolls her strange new name around her mouth and dances the broom from front door to back door, and back to front, and sings out loud.
She waits at the window when he comes home, and hops and waves before his van can even reclaim its place on the street beyond the crumbled garden wall, and she doesn’t stop until he is back in her arms.
She stands at the window and smiles until he is through the gate, and turns away after he looks back and raises a hand. She stands for a moment by the table and kneads the writhing swell below her heart.
She tries to twist the ring from her finger but it jams on puffy bone and won’t come loose. She sighs and runs water into the sink as his van toots and jerks away from her.
She passes the window and looks at the ragged gape of garden wall, the spill of bricks across the lawn, and jumps and waves when he looms above it all and hurries in.
She stands at the window and waves when he turns and fires a kiss. She catches it and leans to lift the little she who pulls at her skirt.
She feeds and cleans and claps her hands in time to nursery rhymes and counting games. She marks her book with her ring and takes a scouring pad to her baking trays.
She gasps when another brick shivers loose from the garden wall and catches in the ivy’s green net. She shakes her head and points, at wall, at little she, and turns away.
She stands at the window and nods when he raises his hat above his head and waves it in a slow goodbye. She holds her impatience close and tries to smile and nods again. She parcels bodies up in thick coats and wraps scarves around tiny throats. She marches her little she’s to school, one wool-thickened wrist in each clenched fist, and wanders home again through leaves that crunch like snapped bones beneath her feet.
She sags and peels and chops as morning sun strikes silver over the snow of bricks. A fairy village iced with frost and green with moss, and threaded through with spider silk.
She stands at the window and lowers the hand that holds the comb, loosens a lipstick smile. She twitches the pink polyester froth that guards her flesh and watches the stumble on the path.
She twirls and giggles and brews tea and bakes biscuits heavy with chocolate chips. She hovers in a dress too short and tight and likes the drag of eyes across her thighs.
She greets him with a cheek peck when he comes home and turns away to wave goodbye to the workmen who shuffle back up the path with swollen thoughts.
She stands at the window and shouts as her not-so-little-she’s chase water around their hill of bricks. She watches them slip and slide, and remembers elastic legs and lungs as pure and vast as sail sheets.
She bargains with herself, lunch first, and watches the clock until noon has come. She fills three tumblers and sniffs them all before setting them beside plates of bread and cheese, and then she sits and drinks.
She lies on the sofa and takes off her watch and says to herself no more now, no more ‘til six, and strains through the pauses before each safe landed thud of she-feet, and each joyful shriek.
She stands at the window and laughs and thinks she’ll burst with pain and pride as bags of bedding, clothes and books are carried through the gate.
She waves as once she waved, split open by her smile, and then she kneels and cries, face squashed against the fridge door and fingers clawed against her eyes.
She sits at the table when he returns, alone, and she sighs a pale soothed sigh and nods when he walks into the silenced space and reaches past the glass to take her hand.
She stands at the window and thumps her fists down hard and spins and runs outside. She screams and screams and tears at the grassed mound until she breaks the green skin.
She heaves and screams, and stops after a while and stares at the dull red poke of brick. She stares down past her bloodied palms at the frantic shift of insects prised from their home.
She says leave it when he sees the mess and goes to fetch his spade. Just leave it; it’s too late now. It’s years too late and she scrubs the dirt away.
Carly Holmes is a novelist and short story writer who lives and works on the west coast of Wales. Her debut novel, The Scrapbook, was released through Parthian in May 2014 and her short stories have been published in a wide range of journals and anthologies. Carly is co-editor of the Lampeter Review and also manages and hosts The Cellar Bards, a group of writers who meet monthly for an evening of spoken word.