PROMISES PROMISES. | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Introspective Bookmark and Share


Ciara opens the curtains and peers out at the new day. The sunís weak, not much heat there. Feels the chill on skin. Rubs the arms with hands, notices Whelan in the garden, the spade thrusting in and out of the soil. Fingers beneath the armpits, feels the hairs there, rough, like tobacco, like the shag her da smoked. His calloused hands, the fingers stuffing tobacco between papers or into pipeís bowl. Lifts her fingers to her nose. Sniffs. Odour. Need to bath. Didnít last night. Couldnít be bothered to get the tinbath down from the back wall and fill with water from the kettle. Too long. Kettle after kettle. Standing there waiting watching the steam rise, the chill from the room biting the flesh. And Whelan groping, the hands around the waist, the tongue at the neck licking. Filthy tongue; donít know where itís been. Gave up on and went to bed with his tail between his legs. She watches from the window as Whelan bends to pick at the soil, his backside broad as a bullís, his cap back of his head, cigarette stuck behind the ear for later. She scratches her behind. The itch. The scratch. The relief. Looks back at the bed. Unmade. As it was an hour since. Musky. Sheets everywhere. Human smell. His dirty clothes on the floor, cast off, lay where they were thrown. She picks up the cigarette packet, takes out a cigarette, and puts between the lips. Paper on skin. Sticks there. She takes out a match from the box and lights the cigarette. Inhales. Puffs. Hits the throat, the lungs. The taste. First of the day. Deep inhalation. Satisfaction. Exhales. Smoke rises. Da made rings with smoke. Fascination as a child. Watching. Seeing the smoke rise. Ring after ring. Da sitting there smiling at my joy of watching. Memories. Many of them. The yellow between fingers, the burn marks. Ciara stands and watches Whelan dig once more. The spade thrust deep, the thighs strong, the hands pushing down, the arms strong. Just the once, he asked the night before. Too tied. Need my sleep. That had him. Put his penis away like a spoilt child. Moans, groans, sighs. Canít always be bothered with the sex. All effort no result. No child. Nothing. Barren. She watches the cap on the back of his head rise and fall with the thrust of him. The cigarette still there behind the ear. The promise made to him. If youíre good maybe. Early to bed early to rise. She remembers Kenny, her first love, his exploits, his favours, his lust, hers, together. Marvellous. Couldnít get enough. Never enough. His tongue, his penis, him, her, love, lust. Then the bullet in the head; dead in some ditch. Retaliation killing. Being catholic. One for one. Just that. Saw him that last time. Remembers that. Whelan away on business. The bed never shook so. The sex hot as hell. Remembers. Whelan stands erect, rubs his back. Looks up at her standing at the window and waves at her. Second best. Him between the sheets. Nothing like. Kenny like the Dodo: extinct. Gone, no more. She inhales. The smoke hits the back of the throat. Fills the lungs. She scratches the cheek of the behind. The itch. The scratch. She smiles at Whelan. Sees his face relax. The muscles ease. The eyes light up. Promises promises promises. Pretend games. Make it more interesting. He likes that. He turns away, spade held, then thrust into the soil again. The weather is changing. The skyís dim. Here comes the wetness, here comes the rain.

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