Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Evie: Part One

This is a re-write of the [Fiction] Friday story that I posted a few months back. On the advise of my writing group I've tackled the story of three women, in three different voices (1st, 2nd and 3rd) to differentiate the parts of the story. The story was originally written as three 1st person parts that made up the whole story. If you've read it before you'll know how it ends, but please read on, and let me know if the change in voice works or doesn't work. If there are enough teasers to beind the whole story together. My writing circle convinced me that it's just adacious enough to work! I'll post the second, slightly longer part tomorrow. All constructive feedback welcomed.

The 7:09am is clattering out of the station as I race onto the platform. I bend over to catch my breath and wonder why the hell I was running in the first place. Habit. I’m in no hurry to get anywhere today, except out of the house.

It’s odd. Peak hour and the platform is vacant. I sit down on a blue painted seat underneath the Graceville sign and drop my backpack onto the concrete. There is a long crack snaking through it, and I trace it as far as it goes. I remember how I loved to sit on the toilet at my Nan’s as a kid and trace the worm like embossing in the beige lino. It entertained me for hours. And I remember the chip in the windscreen we got on holiday and how the heat of summer turned it into a crack, running across the glass until Dad got a ticket. Then we got a new windscreen.

It’s like that with Mum. Dad caused the first chip by leaving and everything else just added heat, turning the chip into a crack that is still running, long and deep inside her.

“Hey Sarah Jane.”

I look up and it is Julian. He looks so different out of uniform. I’d spent the last weeks with Sally trying to decide just how hot he’d look in clothes. And here he is. And he’s talking to me.

“Hi Julian.”
“You doing Economics this morning too?” I laugh – me Economics!

But it comes out sounding strange, like I’m choking because my chest and throat are so tight. I pretend to cough to cover it up, and it only makes it worse. My drama teacher would be mortified. I can feel my face flush with embarrassment. He offers me his half drunk bottle of Coke and I shake my head.

“Just English this afternoon,” I croak. “I couldn’t study at home.”
“My olds are getting on my case too. I can’t wait for this to be over. Just a few more hours to go for me.”
“Two on the last days got to suck.” I wish my voice would go back to normal.
“Yeah but then it’s done. All over red rover.”

The stress of exams is only part of it, the tension in my whole body, not just my chest. I wish that Mum could have held it together a little longer, just until exams were done. It wasn’t like she chose for Evie to be born during SWOTVAC though. Still I hate her sometimes, most of the time at the moment.

Julian hands his phone over to me. “Put your number in and maybe we can get together next week.” My hands tremble. I have that terrible fear that I will forget my own name and number. Perfomance anxiety. I’ve been dreaming of this moment for months, as I’ve obsessed over Julian, wiling him to notice me, like me. Unlike the laugh, my name and number come out OK and go into his phone. He holds my hand for a moment as I pass the phone back and my fingers tingle at his touch.

“We’re going to the Victory this afternoon if you want to come along.”
“Sure.” It’s a lie, but I can live with.

The train appears down the line, squeaking and shuddering as it slows approaching the platform.

“Good luck Sarah-Jane,” and Julian leans over to kiss me on the cheek. I feel my cheeks burn, as I grab for my back pack and stand.
“Good luck,” and we make our way to different carriages.

I make a mental note to hug Mum especially tight this afternoon when she gets home from work. Tell her all about Julian – well except the kiss, so she doesn’t go getting the wrong idea. Tell her how much I love her. And maybe then she’ll stop crying, think of someone other than Evie for a change.

The white noise hum of the fridge in the kitchen stops and the apartment is quiet. You search for traces, the reminders that are uniquely his, avoiding the photographs, the happy smiles of man, woman and child on the walls and the Ikea shelves. On a small pre-loved table by the front door is his gym card – casually tossed there last night. He’ll need to charm his way in for his lunch time laps today.

As you walk towards the bedroom, through the tiny lounge room you see the Scrabble board and look down to see what’s on it. Just two words today. The first is qwigybo - the word that always starts it off. Connecting to the i, built vertically, is conspnki. It is an eternity since you’ve talked, that you’re not sure what conspnki might mean in his world - a conspiratorial ring of key cutters? You pick another seven letters from the small flannel bag; randomly building a word sideways capturing the p in the centre. It’s been so long since you played that you don’t even try to construct a nonsense word in accord with the rules.

You once laughed together like teenagers as you read the made up words in the New York Times. You both agreed that you’d each need an ‘innoculatte’ every morning – coffee taken intravenously when running late for work. And you’d were always running late. So busy – always. Two ships veering off into the distance and colliding for half an hour in the morning and a few exhausted hours at night. Too busy to have a child, but Sarah-Jane came along to prove you wrong. Just the one, he’d said, then along came Daniel … and now Evie.

As you stand at the bedroom door, you convince yourself that this is his fault. You are not, and you won’t be to blame for your actions. If he’s above feeling guilt, so will you. If he can masquerade as selfish with a purpose so can you. He’s pushed and pushed you and now your shoving back. He forced you to construct the walls, you built around yourself.

You think of Newton for a moment – that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Well this is yours.

You tip toe into the bedroom and see her lying asleep on the huge bed. You don’t think of the bed, of what went on here – you only think of her, of Evie, of the baby that finally completes your family.

Evie’s tiny pink hands are squeezed into miniature fists on either side of her head, her delicate, red tinged arms thrown backwards in a sleeping version of the moro reflex. Her Cupid’s bow lips begin to suck and you know exactly what she is dreaming.

Gently you slide your hands under her tiny sleeping body, cradling her head and carefully place her against your chest. Quickly you turn your back to the bed. You fear the thundering of your heart will wake her and Evie needs to stay blissfully asleep. Unaware.

At the front door you take the lime green baby sling from a hook and put it over your shoulder like a hand bag. Evie stirs ever so slightly.

“Oh Evie,” you croon, so only the two of you can hear. “Oh darling … little Evie.”
She sleeps on against your chest, oblivious, as you close the front door and take out the single brass key left temporarily abandoned in the lock.

“Sleep little Evie sleep,” you whisper in a sing song voice, as you go together through the front gate and out into the street.

And you walk - you and Evie, one block, then two and three, until you are far away. The hollow ache in your womb lessens; the feeling of anger consuming your sanity is retreating; the coldness, the barrenness receding like the ebb tide and being replaced with a honey warm glow. You have Evie and everything will be OK now. Your family is complete.

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