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Daughter of Cronus

The love-in continues with my next amour-inspired story: this time we join Hera in the park, as she waits for Darren Snider. It looks like it might rain, and that ain’t so good for glasses… 



his is it! Deep breath, chest forward.

Heels? Check.

Lipstick? Scarlet.

Glasses? Uch – it’s that, or end up asking out a rubbish bin or somethin’.

Leaf in hair?  Shit.

Fussing with the gale.

My, my, the sky looks dark up there, grey as old bobby socks. Don’t think about socks.

This is the way that Darren Snider walks home. I know – I’ve followed him before. Maybe. Once or twice. Livingston Park is four or five miles away from where I live, but, once again, ‘I just happen to be here’.

It’s going to pee down any minute and this frocking frock is going to be round my ankles, weighed down with rain.

Or tears.

Here he comes.

Why isn’t he alone? That’s one, two, three friends – all boys, thank God. Or are boys worse? Hands draped over each other’s shoulders.  Pushing one away, pushing the other. Mock outrage. Hands rough-ploughing hair. Laughing and climbing each other like collapsing columns.  Shoved away, too kool for skool. Bags swinging – swung like maces.

Snider – I, HEART, you.

Like, this is a terrible idea. Why am I wearing a Christmas frock in April?

Wilted daffs are crawling from the beds, heads black. Time is running away – like I should.

Ok, head up, chest –

Oh for  He knows I love him. He has to. The stuff on the book? On the cover? Open? Facing him? Drawing hearts on my forehead like a freak. Glitter everywhere – even between my teeth, in my hair – in my pants, for God’s sake.  

A woman coming the other way, wearing grey – white hair wafting up like detached eggshell. Little, puckered dog straining against an orange pistol grip and strapping.

Yeah, don’t want to be alone like her. Huh!

Och, what a terrible thing to say – you’re going to Hell.  

Tottering forwards on heels, real ‘profesh’, like I wear them every day; hand swinging nonchalantly… this way up – no, that way up. Fingers gentle, as if bridging a cigarette. Think cool, like the back of the porta cabin.

Lips pouted? Too far? Not enough? Hair shrugged back – me channelling Jesse J.

It’s going to ‘dump it’ any second. Look at those clouds. It’s a race isn’t it? Between me and water molecules.

His nose, his hair – perfect. I say the word, “perfect”, like an exhaled balloon. In my head, that word is form – he’s tall, with arms that can enfold like Anne Rice; when I read – in tears – in my window nook, bloody heart exposed. He wears an American jacket – immaculate, striped. Basketball – Chicago Bulls. I Googled that team. I love basketball, now – so much in common.

More laughter ahead. I think he’s seen me – stopped, staring.

That sneer – he doesn’t know it’s me!

Stomach compressed with doughy hands.

Mates nudging each other, behind – beta dogs.

Alpha says, “Hera?”

Time stops – the world cracks into freeze frame. I focus on his eyes, which are glistening like marbles, strangely crystalline, his lips framing my name in the way that Michelangelo must once have said, “Venus?” A warm riffle of blond hair on his lip. A perfect hand just reaching, one move short of a caress. His trousers folded like a dropped cylinder of clay. The giggling of the other boys stilled and stopped by flooding syrup. Trees are sticks. The tarmac solid and dead – everything moves, I realise; you can tell the still-frame from the video.

And then, I’m moving again: my Aunt’s stilettos hurting the balls of my heels, the little toe aching as it presses down the side of the lay-over straps. My long, deep breaths from deep within my stomach, blowing in and out with the light, last sound before the kettle begins to boil – almost an anti-climax, as the chips of air clink around.

I have the shoes in my hand, now – dangling, rubbing my heel. This is the grit and stony roughness of the path below my feet. Toes damp. Tights soiled.

I pit pat up to him. He is as still as a Snide-cicle.

I examine that expression, minutely – in itself, a micro expression writ large. It must’ve sprung from the country of that earlier sneer. I might have missed it, if time were not on my side. I can touch his face – move my fingers along the grooves. I can feel that expression like a thought, and it says: “I don’t –”

What? “Like you”?

That’s not it. Let’s try again – staring at those lips, teeth and tongue, trying to thought-read the next monument of words.

“I… hate – ”?

No. What?

It’s not a phrase, and I shudder. It’s a cruelty: something that words cannot form – that my words cannot form.

Tiny flecks of rain are on my glasses, clouded now. I tear them off; roughly smear them on creamy taffeta. Throw them back – the world is on a slant in pink frames.

See evil, say evil, and hear evil all stand behind him – equally still – hooped in wide-armed gestures, waiting to expand into shit-throwing gibbons.

It’s a near miss – a near mistake; that last second of car crash before you hit the rear bumper –where everything telescopes forever.

I shrug bare shoulders to the rain, and, on tip-toes, kiss his cold, dead, lips.

It’s like kissing raw steak.

I shake my hair.

I sniff with a whistle of snot.

I head for the gate.

There are plenty of cherry trees here, their blooms so thick and perfuse I can’t see their branches. Such love is eternal for moments, while for me, there is plenty of time.


1 Steve Green { 05.05.12 at 12:23 pm }

Poor girl, so definite about what she wants, but doubting every second and every thought about it.

It’s not always easy being young.

wonderful writing.

2 Joan { 05.05.12 at 5:02 pm }

Love the imagery about the black, wilted daffodils and time running away.

I know those sort of dogs on pistol-grips. Those grips are just for shooting them with (at passers-by, I mean).

It’s great – the bit about love being ‘eternal for moments’ and her recognition that she has plenty of time.

This is just so well-written – you have Hera’s thoughts and feelings all mixed in with what is, what might be, what could be, and what isn’t or won’t be.

3 Larry Kollar { 05.07.12 at 7:39 pm }

Nicely done — the jumble of emotions that is attraction, especially the teen variety, all laid out in words. Tough subject, but I think you nailed it.

4 Stephen Hewitt { 05.12.12 at 10:18 am }

@Larry — thanks Larry. Jumble is right. Perhaps not the easiest to read, but I’m glad you followed it along 🙂

@Peter — I’m glad that’s over, too. Hard to be the life and soul of the party if you’re picking over every detail. Kinda made mah head melt.

@John — ’tis good you spotted that. Ah, love — sometimes she’s more hope than destiny.

@Icy — I hear you. Over analysis is very frustrating. Sometimes have to remember the whole thing is supposed to be fun. 🙂 And it gets worse the more it matters. Very annoying. Going to start practising telepathy on the cat. Let’s get this sorted.

@John — I was interested in building up for a train wreck and then having her think: ‘ah, nah. Hold on.’ Sometimes, if ‘time stands still’, you might not like what you see 😉

5 Peter Newman { 05.07.12 at 8:10 pm }

Wow again. I love the line about the cronies waiting to expand into “shit throwing gibbons”, and the way we move through different states of emotion and time focus.

I still remember the games of trying to look cool while signifying interest and reading into every little sign. Glad that’s over!

6 John Wiswell { 05.08.12 at 1:59 am }

Haha, I thought it was cute when she “loved” basketball now. A good jumble!

7 Icy Sedgwick { 05.08.12 at 4:16 pm }

I hate that stage when you over-analyse everything, desperate to know what’s going on in the other person’s head. Sad thing is, I still do that.

8 John Xero { 05.11.12 at 12:22 pm }

Great build of character. I think as a naive teenager I was much more like her than like him or his boys. Unsure, obsessive, dreamer.

I could feel her getting set up for the fall, but what an outstanding save. So it still hurts, but she walked away from that oncoming freight train of humiliation. The story hurts, but as our hearts steel themselves for impact you swerve and deliver a drifting, gentler ending.

9 Aidan Fritz { 05.20.12 at 5:57 pm }

Nicely capturing the pain of young love. The word craft here is exquisite.

10 Stephen Hewitt { 05.23.12 at 8:23 am }

@Aidan — thanks Aidan. There is much in here I remember, despite the protagonist being of a different gender.

11 Harry B. Sanderford { 06.02.12 at 1:37 am }

Not ever having been a teenage girl, I can’t say for sure but it sure seems like you pegged it perfectly. Wonderful writing and perspective as usual Stephen!

12 Stephen Hewitt { 06.07.12 at 8:45 am }

@Harry — not having being a teenage girl either, this was rather unusual territory. But having been a teen in general, and having been through the male equivalent on several occasions, I figured we must all have been there at some point. We’ve all had to stop time, right? 🙂

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