Writers Studio Group Sydney : Forum : SUNDAY


1 Year Ago

It’s his eyes she feels first, burning into her. Clear, blue, confident. He has that easy, brazen grin- usually found on attractive, young men with time on their side. In the precious quiet of a Sunday morning, she is waiting for the kettle to boil. She loves Sundays- no bus to catch, no supermarket shelves to fill, floors to clean, no hours spent under bright fluorescents, no trying to speak English. Sundays are effortless. Sundays are about soft dressing gowns and slippers, endless cups of instant coffee and biscuits… nothing to do. Nowhere to go.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Then he appears at the kitchen door, wrapped in her faded pink towel, fresh from a shower. She heard them arrive home last night, hushed voices, clambering upstairs. The muffled giggles of her daughter, the ensuing silence then the soft thuds against the bedroom wall. Rhythmic, insistent. Vibrating through the house. It made her remember what it felt like to be touched, wanted. There hasn’t been a man in her house since her husband died. When he left, she shut down like a box collapsing in on herself and closed the door to her body. She had stopped even touching herself. That was ten years ago. Now- as this young adolescent slinks across the kitchen towards her- like a curious, wild animal- dripping water onto her linoleum chequered floors, her skin prickles and awakens under her dressing gown. Her cosy kitchen- all at once- becomes a tiny cage. And she feels her nakedness.                                                                                                                                                        She used to be beautiful. Back in Colombia, she kept her glossy hair long and used her beauty as currency. It didn’t matter that she was poor. She had time on her side and an adoring world that saw her, reflected back her glorious self. How quickly youth fades. She married, immigrated, became a mother- her world got progressively smaller and smaller, shrinking until she was left a widow with a child in a foreign country, far from home and her glorious youth. She became a cleaner and the world no longer saw her. She cut her hair.

Up close, his damp skin smells of fresh soap. She becomes painfully conscious of her unbrushed hair, her unwashed face. She generally tries to avoid the mirror these days. Cleaners shouldn’t care about how they look. Cleaners are meant to be invisible. Occasionally, she’s caught off guard, passing a window reflection when the light is hitting at a certain angle- it’s always a shock to her, how old she looks. Recently her teenage daughter is a walking reminder of her youth lost. Years past. Time running away. As her daughter blossoms, she withers. Now this withered face is starting to blush. For the first time in years, she can feel the heat rising and her skin burning. She feels an ache in her groins. And there is nothing she can do. She has become a prisoner in her own home- her own body- hostage to this moment that means nothing to him, betrayed by her body, confronted by her hungry skin- yearning to be touched. An irritating, undeniable reminder that even as she shrinks, withers, disappears to the world- her desire never goes. Perhaps buried but always there. It can be reignited in a moment. He aptly ignores her- as the young often ignore the old-  perhaps embarrassed, probably indifferent. He opens her fridge and she feels exposed by its contents- the whiff of over ripe mangoes, the wilting celery. Every Saturday, her manager gives them food on the verge of expiring. She often thinks of herself in the same way- approaching her shelf life. And as he inspects her most intimate space, she notices the aztec tattoo rising under his arm, then the love bites on his neck- like blisters. He lingers, taking the space, flaunting his idle ease and entitlement, relishing his power in her home. He grabs the milk and gulps straight from the carton.
She bristles, suddenly insulted by his impudence… then discovers a surprising fury rising inside her. Years of pent up anger floods her body- she is angry that the older she gets, the less the world sees her… angry that life is so expendable and youth a fleeting moment… angry that her husband could die and her hair is now short… that her daughter could allow this boy to saunter through her kitchen, wrapped in her mother’s towel, now dripping on her floors, gulping her milk- stealing her Sunday. He chokes and spits- then turns to her with startled eyes, milk dripping down his chin. “Your milk is off”. She glimpses the boy behind the mask- for a moment, powerless, uncertain. And finds herself smiling. The kettle begins to whistle.

He sheepishly retreats from the kitchen - his easy grin vanished, his swagger gone- now conscious of his nakedness. A fool. Only a trail of water remains. The room suddenly fills with bright morning sunlight and she finds herself sinking back into the comfort of her middle aged body, her soft dressing gown, the warmth of her slippers. She chuckles to herself- for once glad she forgot to replace the milk- and turns to fill her coffee mug. She’ll take it black today.

Hi everyone- would be good to get feedback on areas that need more work/development. This is a bit rambling and needs some serious editing down but trying to not be too much of a perfectionist!