unfinished / unready / unpublished short fiction = Wor(d)s in Progress & Developing Characters by Jeff Glovsky
Compendium: finished & published from "Underwear Woman Digs The Sea"
unready, 1999) (& 2014)
The last time I came over…many years ago…she was eleven.
Now she’s ripe enough, and lips are ready…
I wish I were ten.
She tells me she’s Moroccan, and I dig this of her. French, some, too. She tells me she was born in France, in fact, it’s “just Moroccan blood”.
A powerful attraction dunes…Like sands whipped up by long millennia of dueling desert shifts, it sifts…
It buries idylls deep within me.
“…Pet. Pet!” she smiles, remembering. “Do you call to each other in the States? This ‘pet’?”
“Pet! Yeah, sometimes. But ‘pet’ is really lame, y’know?”
“Yeah, like it’s sort of silly. Old people might call each other ‘pet’ if they’ve been married, say, a while. Why? Were you a ‘pet’…?”
She says she’s been to Ireland. Old ladies used to smile sweet and call her this. Their little wish…
I wish I were ten years ago!
Adorable…Might be my own pet…daughter! Hind becomes Electra! “You got a boyfriend?” I blurt like Jung. She’s smiling deep and confidently, proud. My little ‘daughter’…Then she blushes at me. “You’re too young to be hung up,” I tell her, like I matter…
She waves a hand dismissively. “‘Too young’! In my head, perhaps. I’m tired of…cheap…love stories!”
Before I can figure out what that means, our Dutch-bound train rolls into Belgium…sad nether lands…a cemetery. Brussels comes, and I ask little Hind why she thinks things are so: “It could’ve been Paris, Brussels…no? What happened, I wonder. What didn’t happen?”
Hind pulls a cigarette and shrugs. “And New York is not Washington. Or Boston. Why, do you suppose?”
“New York, it doesn’t need to be! But I ask you the other way: How come Brussels, right? Did not become what Paris did?”
“There’s too much power…”
“Washington and Boston have their own things going on, in any case,” I reason (smartly). But Brussels…must be frustrating!”
“Imagine being buried here,” Hind shivers. “One’s life ends twice!”
“Ri, Ri, Ri, Right!! A country full of dead Belgians!”
Hind laughs, but ponders things some more. Decides she doesn’t know, Why Brussels? Asks the lady next to us if our train goes through Germany.
“Through Germany?!” the lady starts. “Ça va pas la tête, Mademoiselle! Germany is east of here! We come from France, she to our south. Then north, through Belgium, aux Pays Bas…Amsterdam’s in Holland, not in Germany. Did you know that?”
“Mais quoi? I find your attitude quite patronizing, Madame!”
“Perhaps,” the lady shrugs and waves. “We still don’t pass through Germany.”
She gets off in the little town of Quevy. Hind exhales laughing.
“…was a sort of foolish question!”
“I’m asleep still! Eight AM! It’s too early to think. I think…but too early to think before I say something!”
“She said you were out of your mind!” I’m laughing.
“No, she did not call me ‘Pet’! Au revoir,” Hind spots the lady out the window, waves coquettishly.
She’s standing on her seat now, Hind…and reaching up behind her, to her bag, up on a luggage rack. She finds it blindly, smiling at me…Tugs it so she’s got its weight and pulls it off the luggage rack…
Then bites a lower lip as the big bag with her small arm comes crashing down upon an old man’s head.
“I’m sorry,” she says, turning slowly. Hefting the big bag back up with both hands…as the old man stays polite and smiles patiently, indulgent. Hind sits down quick, ridiculously. Pulls her feet up on her seat and runs a hand through wisp brown hair…Rolls up another cigarette while eyes flood with precocious laughter, seek to share the same with mine. “Would you like a cigarette this time?” she asks.
“‘This time’…You never offered.”
“No? I’m sorry, I thought I had – had?”
“…had asked if, do you want one?”
“No. No, it’s okay. But no.”
“You haven’t got a light once more, Monsieur?” she asks the gentleman across the aisle from us. Monsieur lights Hind as she leans forward toward him. Hind blushes, nods and smiles, Thank You. Nods again. “Au revoir” (smiles), as the gentleman unties his thighs and leaves our train at Dortrecht.
“Tell me: What could you not do without?” I ask Hind outside Rotterdam.
She ponders in her Hindian way.
“What is this architecture?? Ha ha ha!!” Then, deep, resumes her ponderousness.
“I think…,” wond’ring lonely out the window (deep and pondering) “the thing I could not do without? I think my freedom, finally. You?”
“That’s one thing, yeah. ‘My freedom’…but elaborate.”
“My freedom…as I shouldn’t ever have to…Have to sacrifice? The spirit! But to work all day within an office some place! Hospital or school! To talk to people! When I want…”
She looks down at her watch and does that pouting little French lip thing. “…for hours! Four or five hours, nothing and nowhere to be shortly. Not true?”
An old man smiles patiently, indulgent, as Hind’s brown eyes sum up winningly.
Our train pulls into Amsterdam.
©1999, 2014 by Jeff Glovsky
More Wor(d)s in Progress & Developing Characters: Precocious (unpublished, 2003) Weird Grace Descends (unfinished, 2003) Ripe, Delicious (unfinished, 2004) 2012 Remix: Read (Delicious) from Underwear Woman Digs the Sea Compendium (finished & published) Slice / Life (annoyances, episodes) Jeff Glovsky INK: What's in a Name?