Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Soft Parade

Getting thrown through a window takes strength on the part of your attacker; takes a moment when self-restraint and fond memories disappear, and all that’s left is the pumping of blood and the tightening of muscles.

You’re angry and fierce, fighting with your husband in your living room, yelling like it’s routine.

It’s not routine; this hand holding a gas can, pouring it in a pathway through your home. He empties it at his feet, face marred by a twisted smile, and strikes a match. You grab it without thinking, without feeling the fire bite the soft skin of your palm.

His eyes change, black with anger or a trick of the lightning flashing outside. Your purple blouse is fisted in his hands; he’s pulling you off your feet, and this night is not routine.

You feel breathless flying through the air. Your back at the glass is a momentary relief, but then it cracks, shatters behind you, and you’re still falling.

You hit the grass on your back, head turned to the side, black skirt ruffled up at your knees. The silk and nylon, black heels; on this night, you look like a fallen twenties starlit.

With your cheek against the wet grass, the rain is bringing a brief respite from the hot humid air every time a drop hits your skin. The night insects chorus around you, and you can hear someone’s voice entwined with their cries, whispering “Accident, accident.”

The sound turns to a rattle and hiss, like the snakes you avoid in the summer, then to a ringing in your ears, a bell chorus of your very own. Then, it’s the sound of ice cream trucks and bikes of children coming to buy a treat.

But that’s wrong. Your head is throbbing, and it’s so hot, heat waves engulfing your body. Your husband, he lit the fire. That sound, it’s not the soundtrack of your life here, but sirens. Fire trucks and ambulances, flashing colored lights added to the orange waves and white-bright lightning.

You’re fading out of consciousness; the last thing reaching your ears is your husband whispering above your head, and the bass rumble heartbeat of thunder, and the reassuring wavering sound of sirens coming. You hear the Soft Parade.

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

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