red feather. by Houndling #1 (guest author)

1.  He nods to her. He often sees her in the lobby beside the mail slots. She looks up quickly, nods back, then rushes away. Her loose sleeves flap behind her like wings.
2. He hears her. Sometimes begging, sometimes crying. But he turns up the TV and drinks his coffee.
3. She waits in the hallway, right in the middle, on the border of his front door and hers. The hall light makes the red in her hair shine, but the bruise on her face is purple.
4. “He’s left me. He. Left. Me.” She laughs, and as she does her lip splits. She doesn’t laugh again for a while.
5. One day he comes home and she is drunk. She begins to cry so he reaches out to touch her hair. She flinches, so he drops his hand. “What happened to your face?” she asks. “My brother.”       “We’ll fix each other” she says, and starts to sing.
6. She kisses his cheek in the morning, and when he gets home. Always on the scarred side. “Must be love” the guys at work say.“We’ll fix each other” she’d said, and he runs his hand over the white jumper she buys him. The kiss on the cheek turns to a kiss on the mouth.
7. He gives her a red feather that he finds. She puts it in a glass on the bed side table.                       “It’s not a flower.” ”No, it’s better” she smiles. She’s wearing his white jumper and when he reaches for her she doesn’t flinch. That night they make love for the first time.
8. The second time he finds her in the bath tub he knows. He sits on the toilet seat, listening as water drips onto the grey linoleum. She stares at him with glassy eyes. “We’ll fix each other” she whispers.  When he looks up, the bath is empty.
9. He follows the blonde man from the bar. They are both drunk, but the blonde man is worse. His fat worm lips puff out as the blade sinks in.
10. “I have to leave” he says, and traces her name with his fingers.  As he stands, a feather falls, circling in the breeze. It’s red, and lands on the flowers. He looks for the bird in the trees, but it’s gone. He picks it up and walks away, a man in a white jumper, silent amongst the graves.


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