Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Maria’s Story Pt. 5

Maria had rules for every­thing and for every­thing she had a rule. As a life­long bach­e­lor this caused great con­ster­na­tion for Bergoyan, but he also took some plea­sure in see­ing all the shoes lined up just inside the front door, the kitchen free of news­pa­pers and books, and a pair of clean hand tow­els always neat­ly fold­ed over the rack in the bath­room.

After an intense argue­ment over whether or not and when to use coast­ers (rather than books, mag­a­zines, news­pa­pers, or noth­ing at all), Bergoyan won­dered, “Just how did you move in here, any­way?” By that time she had been liv­ing in his spare bed­room for three months. Somewhere in those months he had cut his drink­ing to two glass­es of whiskey after din­ner. Maria had not asked this of him and she had not stopped smok­ing pot.

You asked me to move in, old man, that’s how.”

Must have been drunk.”

She whipped her head around and looked him in the eye, her face framed by her dark falling hair. “Must have been lucky.”

For just a moment he was dumb­struck by her sad, some­how inevitable, beau­ty. “Lucky,” he man­aged to reply.

Yes, lucky.”

He set his cof­fee on the cork backed pic­ture of Fisherman’s Wharf that she had insist­ed he use and smiled up at her, “Luckiest day of my life.”

She didn’t expect that. Maybe she even want­ed more fight from him than that, but after she blinked at him in dis­be­lief, she snick­ered. She knew where his thoughts had run. No man hid desire well and old men like Bergoyan had no hope of con­ceal­ment before young women like Maria. She spoke qui­et­ly from behind a laugh, “It would kill you old man.”

Bergoyan sim­ply smiled.

I’m just a young girl,” she told him.

Hardly a girl.”

Too young for you, any­way.” And she wan­dered away, leav­ing him to his cof­fee and his news­pa­per.

I’m not con­vinced.” He called after her.

You will be.”

They shared anoth­er year togeth­er before the jokes became some­thing more: some­thing con­fus­ing and too free from the bur­den of future con­sid­er­a­tions. Though the sharp­er pains of their lone­li­ness were then some­what soothed, each morn­ing before sun­rise, as she always had done, Maria found her way to the kitchen table to weep for her lost son.