by Jessica Evans
Norman’s cadenza, every single morning, fur against skin, silent with an aftershock sizzle. Irina blinks in time with her cat, metronome, silent. Pre-dawn makes the sheets heavy. Irina peels them back slowly, Norman’s eyes tracking her, moving in time with her movements. She dampens the rustle, shifts silently from supine to sitting, slow and deliberate to avoid waking Marcus. Twenty-four hours is long enough. Worse when his shift is punctuated by casualty. Loss by suicide. He’ll never voice it and she’ll never ask, avoidance written into their vows.
Nine and a half toes hit the floor, cold and slightly numb. Norman twirls a treble clef between her legs, joining last night’s wine fuzz with this morning’s shame. Irina tries to breathe deep and full, like her therapist Samantha tells her. His purr barely audible, dolce kisses of love. Urgent and needy, the way a child would be.
One staccato click, the oven light illuminates her world and shame becomes bright. Night rounds on the range are easy to see, hard to forget. Downbeat shots accent the darkness, a syncopated rhythm in odd time. The ensemble of her morning roars to life, Norman’s love presents in trills, an adagio of reminder that she is present in this life. He holds the purr, fermata. Sure.
Drip drop forte becomes fortissimo as ice clinks pizzicato against the glass and Irina pours herself water. Sluicing knife to lemon skin, stripping open the fruit and laying bare its puckered secrets, a half-step measure. Like Dr. Jill did the last D and C, her womb scraped and exposed. There is no harmony in loss, largo and broad.
Motherhood was supposed to be a tempo she understood. Slow to grow and fast to quicken, the way wide joy gives way to faster happiness, an identifiable succession of heartbeats, the first on screen, shorter than a complete melody. Her body can’t hold rhythm. Norman raises his octave, the interval between sweet neediness and outright demanding, a second performance with twice the pitch. There is sound in need, eight sweet steps between hollow open and tight closed soprano. Her heart an opus, always asking piu, piu, sempre. Give me more, always.
Jessica Evans writes from Arlington, VA. Home is where she lays her head. She is the EIC for Twin Pies, poetry editor for Dress Blues, and serves as a mentor for Veteran’s Writing Project. Work is forthcoming in Outlook Springs, LEON Literary Review, and The Wild Hunt. Connect with her on Twitter @jesssica__evans