Story 4: Fallen Icicles
March 8 2017 | Joel May
“ I was beautiful once,” she said.
“ I was a woman who drew all the sideways glances, the ones that they thought their lovers would not see.”
The ice broke in threatening booms as she approached the spray. The wet permeated her gloves, driving the salt into the cracks in her hands. She winced at the sting as she always did and then grabbed her bucket again to go toward the water. The spray battered her as she searched the tidepools on the rocks for clams and crabs.
It was hard to reconcile her life. She had met her man while she was harvesting fennel along the Costa Verde. He smiled at her but not really. He didn’t really smile at her as much as look her way in the same way someone would have watched before crossing a street.
She saw it as a smile and she approached him to offer wine. She was always willing to be of service. One gesture led to another and she boarded his boat back to Akranes.
He is gone now, settled in a warm port in the Azores. He took her beauty with him and placed it on the arm of another woman. She cried a lot at first, abandoned until the northern lights became fireflies of her youth, playing with her senses. That first laugh in the Icelandic darkness literally made the icicles fall from the roof. She looked around at the fire, at the chinking of the logs that kept the cold winds outside. Nothing mattered as long as she laughed at it.
A taxi driver in Lagos swerved into the right lane of a roundabout and skidded into a ditch. Red monsoon water poured past the tires as he escaped from the drifting cab. The hot rain sizzled on his skin as he gripped the steering wheel of the cab in a vain attempt to drive it out of the growing stream.
As he moved downstream toward the harbour, his grip on the wheel loosened. He thought of the woman who had loved him so deeply and said, “ Be brave, Isaac. Be brave out there and return to me in one piece.” Together they had lain in bed in the sweltering summer nights and even though drenched, she held him close. It was she, not he, who was crossing an alleyway by the market and looked up as a truckload of concrete took her life.
As he drifted into the harbour marshes he cried out of love. Then, he laughed and looked around at the comical scene of his taxi-boat and cigar boats running circles around him, their owners waving. Again in bed with her he remembered her say out of the blue, “ Wouldn’t it be something, really something if it turned cold and snowed ?”
Amina walked endlessly through the Bolkar Mountains of Turkey holding her mother’s hand. She had complained earlier, days ago, that her feet hurt but now they were bandaged in old shirts and she could not feel them. Now, in between watching for large rocks she threw her gaze toward the far peaks.
“ Amina, you have such a far-away look. What is it, my beloved ?”
“ Ummi, is there anything waiting for us when we stop walking ?”
“Of course there is, Amina. There is rest, first, in a bed. Then lentil pilaf.”
“ What kind of bed, Ummi ? Will it be made of down ?”
“Not at first, daughter, but eventually you will have a bed made of down.”
“ I want it soon, Ummi. I am too tired to sleep on a floor or in a cot.”
“I understand completely, Amina. But think of how great a bed will feel after this cot and that cold floor.”
Amina looked away at an eagle circling. “ I will dream of it, Ummi, and the lentils too. I will dream that the little goslings shed all their down at my feet and I will sew my own mattress. The goslings will grow into strong geese that watch over me as I sleep. There will be olives and lemons from our own trees. And I can sit and look at mountains all day long. This is my dream, Ummi.”
Amina’s mother smiled. Amina would make it home.