I made him nervous

I could tell by the way he stood an extra two feet away from me, the way he looked all around the room while he spoke to me. I have made men nervous all my life. Married ones anyway. It didn’t start with my divorce. It didn’t begin in adolescence. It began when I was five. My mother left me with a neighbor when her beeper called her into an emergency surgery on a late Saturday afternoon. The neighbor’s house had white carpet and a console television. There were silk flowers on the spinnet in the corner and a bowl of butterscotch candies on the coffee table. She sat me at the kitchen table and gave me a box of crayons, points still sharp, box stiff. I was given scrap paper while she poured coffee from the percolator and collected her cigarettes and heavy gold lighter.

I heard a car in the driveway and peeked behind the sheers and green drapes hoping to find my mother’s Honda. Instead, a man with a hat and boots stepped out of a very long car. He drew hard and then discarded the butt on the sidewalk, kicking it into the lava rocks. I saw him look at the window and I quickly returned to my Kool-Aid in the metallic tumbler. After he hung his hat on the hall tree and said hello to his mother, he entered the kitchen. As he dropped two lumps of sugar into his cup, I saw the flash of the stones in the large initials on his ring. Before he could catch my eye, I looked again at the paper, indiscriminately choosing a color and rapidly moving my hand back and forth to create a sky, to fill in the void of the white paper.

A Peek at What I am Currently Writing

I had hoped for him for a long time. Though I didn’t know it was Nick for whom I had hoped, I knew I needed someone else. I was terrified that David would hurt the . I was young enough to not realize that because the would be his own, he might have been different. My mother had gone into the hospital sometime during the morning while I was at school, in Mrs. Pendarvis’s fifth grade class. She had been having contractions since the day before. The first one occurred while we were waiting at the bus terminal in downtown Oklahoma City. My grandmother, Ethel, was coming to help her daughter with this new . Ethel rarely flew. She told me once, her warm breath sweet and bitter from liquor, lips coral from her preferred Estee Lauder lipstick, that she was partial to wheels not wings. Mother was irritable and impatient with my curiosity: I wanted to feel her bulbous, contracting stomach harden and soften.

I didn’t want to go to school the next morning. Mother was lying in bed, quiet and still. She reminded me of the birthing Kudu I had recently watched on Wild Kingdom, silent and immovable, as their young slipped out feet first from their lithe bodies, only mother’s eyes were closed and she didn’t answer my stare from her bedroom door.