At the Sink
Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: step by step, unready, can’t go home, a long stream, unsolid, downtowner, I don’t want us to be strangers again, he was like the man I remembered, stinky, lies, tree fronds, it happened in David’s mind, Buddhist cat’s acupuncturist, at the sink, love
Emmy stood at the sink lathering her hands with orange scented soap, allowing the luxurious suds to slow her down, as a long stream of watery thoughts trickled through her fingers. She hadn’t been back to the harbor town in nearly two decades; she’d allowed David to convince her they could not go home again. She was finally realizing there were a lot of things that only happened inside David’s mind, sticky events that clung like stinky tree frogs in David’s memories. They were vivid blue and orange, these frogs, and they had suction cups for feet. David would never shake them. And neither would she. But maybe she could befriend them now.
“You’ve been at it so long you’re going to rub your fingernails off,” David said in a scolding tone as he entered the kitchen. Her reverie was banished. She felt the familiar sensation of embarrassment, as if she’d been caught doing something foolish even though she was only washing her hands. And dreaming.
There was a man she remembered from college, he’d been only a boy, a poet, an athlete, a Buddhist, who told her he took his arthritic cat to an acupuncturist. He lived in a flat at 26th and N, a downtowner before downtown was cool. He invited her over for some kind of tofu and rice dish. He said there’d be fresh apricots and sake too. But she’d declined, because even back then, there’d been David. The memory of this boy was unsolid, existing only as a totem to remind her that kindness and love were possible.
She dried her hands slowly as David searched the fridge for beer. “I’m going to go,” she told him. “I think I should.”
“I can’t believe you’re being so stubborn,” he spat, taking a quick swig from the bottle. “You know she’s lying.”
“No,” I said firmly, “that’s not true.”
“Your sister told me nothing but lies,” he insisted.
“Maybe,” Emmy said softly, “But she never lied to me.”
He brushed past her and she winced as he angled much closer than was necessary to get through the kitchen door back to his TV show in the living room. Emmy held her breath, but David didn’t touch her.
I may be unready, she thought, but I will take this step by step. I am tired of being a stranger to my own heart.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao at Unsplash