Tuesday, February 8, 2011

soft as a may rain


there was an unlikeliness about their friendship.
her an older woman, and him just moving into what his mom called "the messier side of adulthood".
all the same, they'd meet once a week and talk and drink tea and sometimes when she made scones they'd spoon some of her homemade strawberry jam onto them.
"the sweetest thing this side of summer" she'd say
as she popped the lid off an earthenware jar still cool from the cellar.

they'd met quite by chance as he'd been sweeping the floors at his late afternoon job at harper's five and dime. she'd been looking for something small and pretty to place on her kitchen window ledge.
see, a while back she'd been dusting and had knocked the small china cat that her brother had given her clean off the ledge. she'd watched helplessly as it bounced off the counter and then fell back down behind the stove. she knew from the sound it made when it hit the tile that there would be no need
to even think about gluing it all back together.

looking up and down the aisles of harper's it had been hard to see anything that would fit the bill.
the cobwebby shelves were filled with all sorts of knick knacks and distractions and she was rounding a corner when didn't she bump into the back of joey who was equally focussed on getting some of
the kansas dust up off the floor.

when she'd regained her composure and joey had mumbled his excuse me's she had moved further down the aisle, all the while watching him as he worked. then she'd said, "son, the way you sweep that floor looks to me more like someone painting a masterpiece" and he'd been so taken by her words that he plain forgot what he was doing and putting his brush up against the wall began a conversation
that carried through to this very day.

this early february day.

"ada what is it about birds that makes them need to sing so much?"

ada liked to settle back into her chair when he asked her questions that she needed to think about,
just so she'd get it right enough that he didn't go down a path that he might not come back from.
joey knew that when she settled back like that, this was a time for him to be quiet,
to let the sounds and the smells
of the house fill him up with their stories.

"joey i reckon they have so much sunshine and so many stories flying around all that sunshine that they try and tell some of 'em but it comes out all messy and more like songs than stories 'cause they're telling them fast like if you know what i mean."

"so if i slowed up the bird's songs they'd be more like words?"

"well, i sense that it's best to leave them alone", she replied. "soon as you start playing with that sort of thing you get yourself into a mess of bother", and she chuckled in that bubbling brown sugar voice of hers all sweet and soft and settled even deeper into her chair.

soon enough she'd be breathing the little sleep breaths that he'd come to know.
he'd sit on the floor for a while listening to her breathing in and out.
after a time, looking outside he'd see the mid winter light was almost all gone for the day and he'd get up and pull on his boots and coat and quiet as ever, walk down the creaky floorboard hall and pull the front door to with the gentlest tug to make sure the lock caught.

he liked to stop on the front steps and turn around as if she were standing there and he'd say
"thanks for the scones and jam and tea ada. i'll be back next week".
and he fancied he heard her reply, soft as a may rain "i'll be lookin' for ya".

visual prompt provided by tess at magpie tales

35 comments:

Jo said...

Your prose may be even lovlier than your poetry, Steven.

A boy whose floor sweeping is akin to an artist painting, a woman with a bubbling brown sugar voice, and their conversations in the dim mid winter light. Dreamy.

Isn't it interesting how we each see something different when looking at that charming little house?

I told Tess I hoped to dream of it tonight...with me living there, of course. Maybe I'll now dream of a conversation there all about bird songs with a friend.

Strange...I have a yen for fresh baked scones now.

Elisabeth said...

What's this 'messier side of adulthood, Steven? To me this writing is more character filled than is usual in your posts, as if you're daring to branch into people. I relish it.

Thanks.

Pauline said...

you write stories the same way you write everything else here - with insight and spirit and a beautiful balance of show and tell.

steven said...

jo thankyou for your kind comment. ada and joey were there as soon as i saw that house and it excites me that so many different people and stories and poems also live there depending on who you are! be sure to spoon some strawberry jam onto your scones. steven

steven said...

elisabeth - in my own experiencing the messier side of adulthood comes about around the mid-teens. even in my art i've stayed away from people, but these two people were right there waiting to appear and i'm wondering if there might be more. only time will tell. thanks for your kind supportive words. steven

steven said...

pauline thankyou for this. i write but i'm not a writer. the craft of it hasn't become part of the lexicon of me - not yet. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

What a beautiful sweet story. Wow.

splendid said...

thank you steven

Lyn said...

No matter how long this affection lasts..it will be remembered forever..Unlikely friends are as worthwhile as any..real heart in this one!

120 Socks said...

Loved the meeting of the two characters, great story.

Kay said...

....birdsong...i was listening to them this morning and then i read this.....lovely....xx

Golden West said...

I'm with Jo, your story pulled me right in and held me there, eager to know these people. Well done, Steven!

Tess Kincaid said...

Steven this is wonderful! Such a diversion from your usual write. I love-love "Kansas dust" and the "little sleep breaths". I'm looking forward to reading more of your prose. Pretty please?

Trellissimo said...

bubbling brown sugar voice

Rather like the one you used to tell this delightful story!

thingy said...

What a wonderful story.

Susannah said...

Beautiful, I enjoyed this so much. :-)

Friko said...

a sweet and gentle story.

Jinksy said...

Superb story, Steven...

Lolamouse said...

What a delightful story! Sweet as the strawberry jam you so beautifully described! I loved the friendship between these 2 characters-so simple and so real. You write wonderfully!

steven said...

reya thankyou. i loved writing it. it just came out as a piece. steven

steven said...

splendid - thankyou! steven

steven said...

lyn - thanks for underscoring one of the thoughts i was holding as a i wrote this. unlikely friends are friends. no judgements made there that's for sure!! steven

steven said...

hello 120 socks and thankyou for your kind comment. steven

steven said...

kay does it make you think of birdsong any differently?! steven

steven said...

golden west - i'd like to know more about them. there's lots there that i could feel as i wrote. steven

steven said...

hi tess, thanks for the encouragement. i've watched little pieces of myself slowly emerge during the life of this blog and the prose piece is the latest. i liked it a lot - the writing i mean. i would like to do more and so with that wish i'll carve a space for it. steven

steven said...

hello trellissimo! welcome! the voice in this writing was one i heard in my head but i'm not sure i could mouth it to any great effect. it was the voice of an old lady - from the midwest. hmmmm. steven

steven said...

hello thingy! thankyou very much i'm glad you came by to share it with me. steven

steven said...

susannah welcome! thankyou very much for your kind comment. steven

steven said...

friko - i wonder if that's all i would write if i were inclined to write longer pieces? steven

steven said...

jnksy - thankyou for that high praise. steven

steven said...

lolamouse! hello and welcome. thanks for the kind comment. the experience of writing prose is new to me and i really liked it a lot. i appreciate the encouragement. steven

Lena said...

Oh, my! This Magpie will stick with me for a long time. I was enchanted throughout.

I hope Ada and Joey have a long and happy friendship. There's not enough of 'age-bracket' relationships in this world and if there are, some are tutted upon. I can honestly say that friends of my sons' are friends of mine, too!

Tumblewords: said...

A charming story, softly told with stellar glimpses into an unlikely friendship - the kind that turns the world and brings cynics to their knees.

~T~ said...

What a sweet friendship, told so we're right there with them. Beautiful!