Wednesday Stories: Edmund
It made the hair on her arm stand on end, Edmund. I called him it because that was what she called him. Even though he calls her mummy. I first met them at the grocery store. Well they were at the grocery store, I was seated at the window of the bakery looking out at the cashier munching on the soggy cheese roll drinking diluted coffee while waiting for my mother to finally wheel her overflowing trolley of weekly groceries.
She picked him up, the little screaming thing, from the stroller while smiling and cooing, and draped the tiny bundle over her shoulders before grimacing. There was a sort of disgust on her face, something she hid so well while in front of him. Wheeling the empty stroller which now held the groceries with her free hand she stopped in front of me and turned around so I could see his face.
“It asleep?” she asked.
“Yip” I answered. Hurriedly turning away.
She turned to look at me again trying to catch my eye.
“You judged me didn’t you, I saw your face.”
“Yea your face when you saw me drape it over.”
I shook my head. “Don’t know what you mean.”
“Well now you’ve seen its face you know.”
She walked off.
I did know what she meant. The baby she carried was hideous. Hideous. There are no other words.
I told mother of the incident as we walked to the car and she pointed her gnarly finger at me. I rolled my eyes. She did not know how hideous this baby was.
It was a couple of weeks later, and the episode was well out of my mind when I saw her at the petrol station. She was filling up her little car. I caught her tear stained eyes. That was before I heard it scream. She wiped her eyes on the sleeves of her sweatshirt and then practiced a smile before opening the door. She picked up the baby and cooed and smiled. The cleanest smile ever.
It was bizarre really.
But I could not stop wondering about her, and so I kept a lookout for her at the grocery store. I bumped into her again.
I walked up to her and spoke.
No words. Damn it.
She looked at me, raised her left brow and then laughed. We talked a little and then exchanged numbers. We went on dates.
It was weeks later when I finally had the courage to ask.
“So is he normal?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you know…”
“So is he?”
I could not help thinking how that just makes it a lot worse.
“He is just hideous.”
I was silent and stayed silent hoping she would explain what that meant but she did not. I have seen the way she treated him. She was the perfect mother. To it anyway. She did everything right. She smiled at it, she touched it, she kissed it. Then she would talk to me about it. How it made her hair stand on end. How it disgusted her. How it made her cry.
I took her home and she kissed me. Tip of her tongue wet my lips so delicately. It touched them and then pried them open slowly. It found the tip of my tongue. My hands found her soft warm breasts and squeezed them.
I wanted her.
“Take me away.” I heard her whisper.
I was in the middle of kissing her back. Her tongue was firm yet teasing. I nod.
“Take me away.”
We stumbled into the backseat and my hand reached under her skirt.
“Please take me away.”
I pulled her panties off and nod while entering her. She was soft. Vulnerable. The warmth of her held me. I wanted to go slow yet fast. I wanted to thrust, yet draw it out long.
“Take me away from it.”
She said it loudly and clearly. She rolled on top of me. She was wanting. Desperate. I could tell. She was thrusting me into her very hard. And very quickly. Too quickly. I grabbed her waist and lifted her so I could get it out. Right before I came.
I caught my breath.
“What did you say?”
“Take me away from it.”
She got out of the car. I drove away. Left her panties behind.
It is only now I found the courage to ask another girl out on a date. Finally. We went to the art gallery her and I and hand in hand we stared at each picture and like the pretentious git I was I would tell her my analysis. I was the art history expert. She humoured me. She listened. She nodded. She oohed and she aahed.
Then we got to that particular painting. And there was a boy, on a verge of being a man, but not quite yet, awkward staring at the piece. She stood next to him and I next to her.
“So what does this mean?” she asked.
“The trees, the trees are the artist’s way of saying, books are living things. Not them I means, their words, their words are living things.”
His words tumbled out of his mouth in a breath answering a question I am sure was meant for me. I turned and looked first at her and then at him.
“Yup the kid’s right…”
He looked down at his shoes.
“What’s your name kid?”
I searched my head to recall the name for the baby that was hideous.
And I realised I don’t know its name. She never told me.
And well I never asked.
“You are Edmund too?”
I nodded and shook his hand. I realised I kinda like the kid.
He smiled and at that instant I returned to my memories, quickly, digging up every thought I ever had of it. I erased them and then rewrote them again.
I just had to replace it with Edmund.