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.
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.
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 – ”?
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.