Monday, May 31, 2010

MAGPIE TALES: The Cost of Clinging

(Our contribution to Magpie Tales #16. The rest are here.)

The afternoon Nestor came home from his riding lesson to find those black slippers on the floor of the upstairs sitting room, he knew exactly what had happened. The order of the household had been disrupted, and his mother never would have left even the slightest detail in such disarray unless she had moved on to a new opportunity. He grabbed them before they might be discarded the same way he snatched his dead goldfish and dropped it in a match box for proper burial under the lilac bush.

When his father arrived, he offered no explanation, only that they would be living Montevideo for an assignment in Benares next month. Nestor knew precisely what had happened: his mother had run off with piano tuner Alfredo. His weekly visits to tune Erard were always suspect. His mother always asked him to leave the room, reminding him that even as a toddler she would complain about him clinging too much. She even scolded him for clinging to his stuffed toy monkey too much since it might mar the feathers inside. Nestor thought of the canned, clinging peaches he so greatly enjoyed and his mother despised, their cloyingly sweet syrup and sea of preservatives always sparked her disdain.

Years later, when Nestor found himself reading the farewell note from his latest fleeing partner, he pictured himself a pale, mustardly yellow peach sliding down the side of a bowl of his regret. Another pathetic loss and abandonment. At times like this he would retrieve the box with those long ago forlorn slippers, their occupant long ago departed from the piano tuner with a bandoneon player before she go danced off to a new adventure. So distant now, she rarely gave thought to him now except on rare instances when she caught the whiff of blossoming fruit tree on a humid night. Such overpowering sweetness drove her to some smokey dive, longing for the stench of the most foul cigar to scorch away the lingering remnants of memories that had the providence of chalk circles in the mist.



At 7:31 AM, Blogger Sue J said...

I had to smile at giving the goldfish a proper burial. We buried ours in a tobacco tin, when we were kids, and when life got a bit boring we would dig the tin up and have another funeral. A sad tale, well told.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Sue - I'm glad that goldfish was well remembered.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Tumblewords: said...

A powerful piece, this!

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very powerful tale.

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Gabriela Abalo said...

Nicely written.
Funny that you mention Montevideo - I'm actually moving there in two weeks time!



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