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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction

Dear Husband
• Abigail George
I am a little girl again when I see my mother kiss another man on the lips. I only ever saw her kiss my father on the lips. This man’s name was Uncle.

Everybody has a story.
I have listened to many ...

My mother promised me a book, and a bar of chocolate, and any flavor of ice cream. I waited in the car. The door opened and my mother embraced Uncle while he ran his hands up and down my mother’s back. I remembered Christmas. Of how much my father adored my mother and would do anything to make her happy. It was really my father who taught me how to be a good wife.

‘Stop. Someone who knows us might see.’ she said. My mother blushed. She was standing on the steps of Uncle’s house.
‘Who will see? The child can’t see, and in any case she won’t understand.’ Uncle said messing up my mother’s hair, and her lipstick.
‘Children are bright. Children are curious about everything. I don’t know. Well, all I know is that my daughter is bright as well as curious.’
‘Children are curious at her age about love?’
‘Is that what this is?’ I pretended not to see but strained to hear every word.
‘Love.’ Uncle said again. ‘When will you come and see me again?’
‘When he is working or away on business or at a meeting? When I run errands, or go shopping?’
‘Do you have to bring her? This is my territory.’
‘Yes. She is my daughter. She has beautiful manners.’
‘I am not her uncle. She called me Uncle once.’
‘She is a very polite child. She is also a very bright child.’
‘She looks at me funny. I just don’t like the way she looks at me when you leave.’
‘She’s too young to understand.’

‘Are you in love with Uncle, mother?’ I asked my mother when she got in the car. She didn’t say anything for a very long time. Uncle went inside the house, and closed the door. I looked across at her face. She had a dreamy look on her face. She had closed her eyes. She took my hand, her eyes still closed and said to me, ‘You are too young to understand this. The effort of love, of having a family, running a household, having daughters, having a husband, being hurt, and falling in love. A man who understands you like no other. I love your father but there are things in this world that you will only understand when you are older. When you become a young woman. Do you know how to keep a secret? Well, today you are going to learn how to keep one.’

We never spoke about it again because I believed her. I believed her because she was my mother, and I loved her, and I thought she was a saint. Well only ghosts can have read lips, have flashbacks from childhood, and have the remains of the hours spent with the love of their life. I thought perhaps it would be best if Uncle would go on a long journey to Africa to shoot lions. If only a lion would eat him. Swallow him whole. He would be in the lion’s belly while I decided his fate. Perhaps he would wake up one day and not love my mother so much. I would make a wish, and sleep with my leather-bound bible under my pillow. I was not an adult. I was a child. I already knew what ‘sleeping around’ meant. I already knew how red-faced babies were made.

She said I was her daughter, and so I kept her secret. Hitler came and went, and so did the war and still I kept her secret.

Love, where are you? Are you in heaven? Are you in a paradise or where the souls of the lost and found find each other? Have you found yourself in the afterlife, or the hereafter of the astral plane? Or like me are you a ghost. Do you find yourself haunting the places, and the people that you knew before the war? Do you find yourself riding trains with cows, trains that were once used to transport people to the camps? Once you were a boy making model airplanes, flying a kite on a hill, tobogganing down a snowy slope in winter, building a man made out of snow. I will never feel heat. You and I will never feel brave anymore. Brave in the sense of facing the world out on our own. There is too much golden light here. Do you have eyes to see? Do you have hands to feel? In a normal reality you would have to strike a balance, but it wasn’t like that during the war, or even before war broke out.  I don’t have a life outside of writing books, and reading them. For a long time I have felt both this internal, and external struggle as a writer. What is my purpose? What have I sacrificed? The answer to both of those questions is everything.

I bit into the love of it all. Into the love story. Nothing has tasted sweeter. Seemed more significant to me in my life. I bit into the story. The bittersweet history of the pomegranate. You had your testimony. I had mine. Your laughter has an extraordinary soul. You are perfect. Always were. I study your profile. I contemplate you. Perhaps children or a child in the future. Every illusion. Sacrifice. Our growing intimacy. You are mine. All mine. All mine to worship. To compete against. To share my joy with when it comes to that. You are my constant companion, and advisor. Everything has fallen away. The death of everything. The mud season. Dead rotting leaves. Violence, and brutality in nature. You are as big as the sky. You are noble, serious, kind, warm, sincere, funny, and sweet. I can share my world with you. You are beautiful with your tangledwreck of hair. I am always aware of you in your absence. The history of the universe’s big personality began with you.

Startled out of its reverie. Refreshed, audacious. It was a novelty. Everything is possible now. You have put your mark on me, this ring. I have put my stamp on this relationship. Running your household. You are nonchalant. You, the anthropologist in this relationship. You the photographer as clairvoyant. When people talk of the holocaust, they will not talk of us. There were thousands. There were millions. There were those that escaped. There were those that remained behind. You could play the piano. You loved jazz records. You loved me. I have a library to keep me warm now instead of a body whose face is streaked with tears and that smells of the fumes of gas. It is not winter. It is not winter yet. It is the same old same old where I am right now. I am in heaven. I am in paradise. I can feel the sun on my skin even though it is winter. My head is filled with dreams. I have goals when I step out into traffic. I do not sleepwalk anymore.

I do not have bad dreams when I have the memory of you to keep me company. It has been a whirlwind, I mean after the war. Getting to grips with life, with living, with putting behind that god awful, hellhole of a war. Getting to grips with the ones who were left behind. Everybody has to start at the beginning again. Put down roots no matter how hard coming to terms is. Everybody has a story. I have listened to many stories. I love looking at the stars. It is beautiful up there now. No war. No bullets. No Nazis. No guns breaking skulls. No aching heartbreak in your throat being locked away as you inhale and exhale after walking away from your loved ones. No soldier soldiering on. I wish we could turn back time. To our wedding day. To our first kiss. Our first dance. The very first moment we met. I get all misty-eyed. You were a successful pianist. Perhaps I should have believed in you more.

You loved your chicken. Now when I look at chicken all I can see is you. I can see your face. Your hands on the lids of the pots on the stove. You spreading crumbs on the table. You never complained about my cooking. You never complained about anything really. Now all I can see is you eating my chicken, praising my skill in the kitchen, and I just looked at you, and I smiled to myself. You took my hand and kissed it. Life was perfect then. Life before the onset of the war. You loved your meat and potatoes. You boasted once that you were a meat and potatoes man, and I said that you loved chicken as well. Men were either meat potatoes men or men who loved chicken. We always argued about that but never about Hitler.

© Short fiction by Abigail George December 2015
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The Wild Bird’s Progeny
Abigail George

In a doorway stands an entire choir of voices that bloom in an oblivion and not one of those voices belong to me.

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