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.