Sucking In Magic – By Carolyn Belcher

October 18, 2009

I walk down the empty street. The house is in darkness. The windows stare back at me as if to say, ‘Go now. Don’t be a ghost, haunting these rooms.’

I am an unloved, unlovely woman who… who…

Gina wouldn’t have understood that her words were as good as a punch in the belly, a punch that doubled me over, and left me gasping for breath, for all she had done was suggest that I throw away the earring board, and sell my earrings at a car boot sale.

My daughter enjoys having a good turn out; I do not. I’m a gatherer, a hoarder. I like my clutter, and the earrings on the earring board are a part of the bric-a-brac that I have gathered around me; a special part, for they have magic powers, and you can’t sell magic. A glint, a tug, and will I, won’t I, I’m pulled into one of their stories.

There, there, silver imps, winking blinking. They know; they know, those personifications of the mischievous, Lincoln imp, petrified on his pillar. I catch the wink-blink and I’m hooked. Gavin, blonde, long haired Gavin materialises and I am as giddy as any sixteen year old, in love for the very first time. I allowed him to turn me upside down and inside out; to create havoc in my life; a havoc that left me walking down an empty street staring at lightless windows.

When he suggested a weekend away in Lincoln; I counted the hours. The Bishop’s Palace, not the present one, the old one, that’s where we were to stay; it had been transformed into a hotel.

As we drew up outside, Gavin said, ‘ I told them you were my Mother, so we’d need two single rooms.’

Shock can smog you, clog you. You feel as though you are choking. I opened the door of the car, and got out. I told myself to breathe slowly, to count, one, two, three, and walk away. I didn’t know where I was going; it didn’t matter.

If Gavin was surprised, if he shouted after me, I didn’t hear; my mind was full of betrayal. In the Bailgate, I saw a hotel called The White Hart and veered into the foyer looking for the Ladies; I prayed that it would be empty, it was. Privacy, I could howl without embarrassing or being embarrassed.

What was I? A red eyed, unlovely, older woman, who ought to have known better. I wanted to plunge my head in a basin of cool water, water to stop water, water to soothe water red eyes; but there was no plug, and the tap allowed but a timed gush. I balled pieces of lavatory paper; soaked and pressed, soaked and pressed until I was calmer. Then I mascarered my eyes, blushered my cheeks and lipsticked my lips; red for brazen, red for anger. I told the clown in the mirror, that she didn’t need a toy boy.

We met on the steep street they call The Strait; he was walking up, I was walking down.

‘It was a joke, Connie. I’m sorry.’

Red lips screamed, ‘Joke! You’re the joke, Gavin Pritchard.’

Red rimmed eyes, red cheeks, red mouth whispered, ‘Ha! I’m the joke. I’m the crying clown, cajoled, seduced, lied to.’ But oh, how I wanted the lies.

He took my arm. I did not withdraw it. We went into the Cathedral; he wanted to show me the imp, to tell me its story. He bought me silver imp earrings, and that night made love to me as though he were the North Wind who was going to fix me to a pillar.

I look at my daughter.

‘I can’t sell the earring board; I can’t sell my earrings, Gina.’ My voice is forced, is breathy.

‘Why? You don’t wear them. I bet your holes have closed up.’

I turn and twist around how to tell her. ‘You’re on the board, Gina. Look, the parrots you gave me. That was love, real love. I’m sure you didn’t want to buy them, you disliked most of my earrings, didn’t you?

‘Yes I did. Other mothers didn’t wear outlandish ones, or cowboy boots.’

We laugh. The cowboy boots are on the floor, in the pile of grot, clutter, bric-brac that comprise my life.

‘Yet you bought the garish parrots. You knew how much I’d like them.’

‘I wanted you to be like Emma’s Mum, ordinary, but I was also proud that you were different; that’s why I bought them, and to try to bridge the gap.’

‘So, you remember when you gave them to me?’

She nods. ‘After I got my GCSE results; we had a row about my going to a party in Fizz. Why do you want to remember that?’

‘Because I failed to listen, to understand. I was all gut reaction Gina; a club meant alcohol, drugs, rape. You tried to tell me it wouldn’t be like that, but my ears wouldn’t hear.’

How often do people listen, and misinterpret?

When Gavin and I started out on the journey of our affair, I believed that we were in a beautiful room where we would stay forever. He told me that the room was a transient place, which we could enjoy for the time that we were there. The silver imp earrings serve as a reminder of that.

How can I help Gina to understand about magic, a glimpse, a glint, a drawing in, sucking in magic?

I stare at her. She stares at me, and so we remain for an infinity of seconds, as though we are petrified, like the Imp on his cathedral pillar, a keep, keepsake, throw, throw away, still photo.

About the Author

Carolyn Belcher

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