I was waiting for the rain under a willow tree. The summer was hot and you could smell the creosote melting on the tracks. Does creosote melt? It smells like it does.
I hate that low hum of bugs in the air, it reminds me of death, but I rather like the smell of canola. It's sweet and it's spicy and it's this kind of glorious yellow that always reminds me of coffee in an airport terminal. The taste of potential, warmth, fun.
God was I bored, staring up at that tree. The leaves were too green, and I could feel them whispering at me, catcalling. But not one of them was willing to pay for a damned meal like the boys back in the city. Them, they catcalled and they payed. And they payed and payed and payed. Which was why I was stuck here on the premises of the family farm, instead of flying out to the wild yellow yonder.
How am I supposed to know what solicitation is? I'm a good girl.
One minute I'm teasing the ugliest, paunchiest Daddy ever, letting him know that one night with me is expensive, the next this asshat is slapping cuffs on me and giving me a fine so hefty it would make your head spin.
A broad ruddy face perched under a truly atrocious straw hat popped into existence above me. His face was split into a broad grin, tiny eyes hidden under his wide cheekbones.
"You look like a serf." I said. He chuckled, as if in appreciation
"That must make you the town whore."
I shrugged my shoulders, and glared at him, choking on a surge of irritation.
"I didn't do anything wrong."
"I don't think so either, but that doesn't make it legal."
"I'm not a prostitute."
"Yeah, yeah, escort, whatever."
"Letting perfectly nice men give me money does not make me a prostitute!" His grin grew even broader. He looked like he was choking back laughter
"Tell me Annie, what do you think a prostitute does?"
"A date is not the same as sex!"
"Ok, what does an escort do?"
"I don't fuck men for money."
"You date them though."
I glared at him.
"I don't fuck men for money."
"I don't think you do, but you've still managed to piss a lot of people off. Come on, it's supper time." He gestured out to give me a hand up and I ignored it.
"I'd rather stay here."
He funneled his breath inward in that farmer type way, as if inhaling a great pile of spit.
"In this household we eat together. Come on, Marcy worked her ass off."
I sighed. Everyone was working their ass off. For me. My punishment was apparently their punishment, I really wanted to feel guilty for that, honest. I don't know why I didn't.
I rolled my eyes,
"Fine, whatever. But I think it's easier on everyone if we just pretend I'm not here."
"Stop acting like a 14 year old."
"Stop acting like my presence is wanted."
"It isn't. But if we're stuck with you then you're acting like a part of the family."
Goddamed Ian. Gets his girlfriend knocked up at the age of 21 and thinks he knows everything about everything.
Then they lost the baby, but they still got the farm. I'm pretty sure Marcy would trade it all out in a heartbeat.
I walked by the house and caught a glimpse of my reflection, sucking back a gasp. God I looked like crap. I'd lost weight, but instead of looking lean and svelte I just looked sallow. My hair was stringy. When was the last time I'd showered? I briefly entertained the fantasy of smashing the reflection, over and over until the window broke.
That was happening a lot lately. Me thinking about breaking things. Maybe it was symbolic of my wanting to break free. Maybe I was just angry.
Sometimes my fantasies feel realer than anything else. The colors here always seem too bright you know? And everything gets so hyperfocused, and I feel like I'm walking through mud, and my fantasies seem so much more gray.
I let Ian lead me inside, and I mechanically brought out the food onto the table. I tried to process what was in the dishes. The long skinny things could have been green beans I guess, maybe asparagus? The rest was unrecognizable.
"Take a little, honey." Marcy said with her deep voice. Apparently she'd had some kind of accident when she was a kid that had permanently damaged her vocal chords. Something to do with fire. Now her voice sounds like smoke, wisping off into the ether.
Marcy desperately wants to be a maternal, bustling figure, but she's too quiet, to beautiful, and too ethereal to succeed.
Marcy dances around the room when she tries to stride.
Marcy sounds like a song. This is all I know about Marcy.
Now Ian is an open book, a short pointless book. One where you know the end when you start and that ending is nowhere.
Marcy and Ian are frowned at me, I frowned back.
"Annie, you need to start helping out if you're here," Ian proselytized.
Jesus fuck, I am in for a treat.
"I was fine with you sitting for a couple days and... Processing, but it doesn't really seem to be helping, actually you seem worse."
Yada yada yada. Lucky you, you get to listen to him too.
"Now you know me. I'm a big believer in the harder you work the better you feel, and I know you like to joke about that being an enforced prostestant ideal or whatever, but the truth is everything good in life comes with sacrifice."
I stand corrected, Ian's book would be very, very long. And roundabout. Man he must have really practiced the Dad role. Tough luck.
Ian tailed off without me hearing him, one eyebrow raised expectantly.
"I understand your point."
"Did you hear a word I said?"
"I'll help out! Jesus." I mean I'd heard enough, it wasn't like I'd completely ignored him.
Ian looked me over.
"Well, talk is cheap. We'll see in the morning."
We went back to eating in complete and utter silence, Ian's eyes darting to me nervously, Marcy held his hand distantly, obviously lost in a world all her own.
My plate clattered as I put it down, to loud, to loud. My head was aching while I washed up.
Then I lay in the bed, the room was dark, and it was hot, and the air was so thick and wet I felt like I was swimming. I lay like that, my skin slick with sweat, my heart racing like a small frightened bird, and I listened and I waited for the rain until another morning trudged it's weary way out of the dark.