Quondam

July 2013
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Stitching

There was once a woman of alone who died, and those who were left to tend to the details of her absence stood over her almost nude body as their attention was directed by a stranger, “What do you know about this?”

All they knew was the same puzzlement as the one who had asked the question.

Long rows of parallel punctured tracks, indelibly blue, ran the lengths of her legs from ankle to inner thigh, from wrist to shoulder, and across the width of her stomach in three neat doubled rows. They cocked their heads and turned to one another for explanations, but there were none. They shrugged their shoulders helplessly, saying nothing.

A sheet was pulled, “She was a woman of secrets, then?”

They lifted and dropped their shoulders in unison, murmuring agreement, relieved to shrug off the obligation of knowing the truths of a woman who had been, after all (hadn’t the stranger said so?), of secrets.

They went out for coffee together, discussed plans and long-sleeved blouses and the collection of facts available.

None of these facts suggested a need for such all-encompassing stitching.

The suggestion was made that perhaps, in the end, she’d gone quite mad. This suggestion was greeted with welcoming rumination for the slurping beats of a few sips of coffee, but then brows furrowed — hadn’t the man with the sheet said that some of the markings were many years old? She hadn’t always been mad. Wouldn’t they have noticed?

So that was troublesome, but as they rested with the uncertainty for a few more slurping beats, it turned out they were able to come to a pleasanter place of apathy.

What did it matter, anyway? If she had wanted to tell them the stories of her secrets, she would have done so. It would be rude to chase her into death for the answers.

They finished their coffee and shrugged off the unanswered questions, their shoulders rounded so as to better let the sharper points of obligation slip away. They paid the check and left a generous tip and lifted their faces to the sunshine as they gathered in the street to separate. Someone said, “It’s no one’s duty to fully know another person.”

It really was a lovely day, they agreed.

They stood together for a silent moment, each retreating into the individual thoughts and intentions that would guide the steps away.

One of them was a bit more hesitant than the rest to have this be all there was to the story.

She leaned into the group as though to speak, but in the end all she had to offer the story’s furtherance was a bitten lip and words stuck behind.

She was a woman of secrets.

The end.

    24 comments to Stitching

    • JT

      “It’s no one’s duty to fully know another person”. I love this line. As the mystery of the deceased woman consumes me, the secrets that another knows, I pause on that sentence.

      Perhaps there are less secrets than thought? Maybe they hide in recluse for fear of their own secrets coming to light? Maybe they secretly yearn to not die without someone fully understanding them?

      Who knows right?

      Great piece.

      Me

      • Thank you, not least because I fully expected to garner zero comments on this post.

        Which would have been a lovely sort of irony, right?

        A funny thing . . . the story of this woman has been rattling around in my head for several days, but in the end, I wrote instead the space within her absence.

        I love this piece, and that you see something in it to love as well . . .

        Thank you for that.

        Me

    • Amy

      aren’t we all women of secrets?
      As usual, you’ve left me mostly speechless. In a good way.

    • “A pleasanter place of apathy…” A popular place, that. And a very crowded space, I think.

      Lovely weaving of words.

    • I love the more that is not here.

      • As I mentioned in response to an earlier comment, I started writing that more . . . I started with the more.

        But then I realized what I really wanted to tell was the story of the everything else.

        To write around the more, to reveal the everything less.

        Thanks, you.

    • Mishelle

      I think I know the people she left behind. I am, quite possibly, related to them.

      M

    • Robin K

      In a moment sway, the power of a say.

      Let’s play.

      As if it were another day.

    • Then again…we do take that duty upon ourselves in earnest. In quiet places beyond the sunshine and the half smiling faces are open curtains and blue grey skies that fade into black and tiny letters like needles mending the night of day.

      Then again, between love and loneliness, some things are better left understood amd unsaid.

      I wonder if she had a suitcase of treasures packed for the journey.

      • Oh, how I like it when you talk.

        This . . . “In quiet places beyond the sunshine and the half smiling faces are open curtains and blue grey skies that fade into black and tiny letters like needles mending the night of day.”

        As for the duty we take on?

        I prefer to think of it as a yearning.

        Me

    • Issa

      This: “It’s no one’s duty to fully know another person.”

      So very true. Sad, but true. Sometimes I think we all die with a certain amount of secrets. I know I will.

    • I’ve been away from my own words for so long I have none of power to offer you here.
      Just that your stories will always be so beautiful to me.

      The right mix of dark and light; of answers and questions.

      Be well in the white spaces between the words.

    • A marked woman, indeed.

      Kris, I will miss you and your words so very much while you’re away in the white space. You have touched me often and deeply, and I haven’t told you so as much as I should.

      Much love to you and yours.

    • I have loved your words, I felt safe at your site, I will miss having someone who understands. It’s hard to find someone who knows with a minimal exchange of words. I’ll miss you. I admire how you can turn it off and go. Me? I’m too scared of the loneliness.

      Good luck. I’m here. Please do email me, or tweet. going through big life season right now, but do talk, if it ever comes to you, because I have loved your unique ways and voice, since the beginning. Loved, as in, deep breaths of acceptance my way. THANK YOU. Love to your girls, I will mess them so very much.

    • Tela

      secrets, yes. I love this perspective that they don’t have to be toxic or beautiful, but can just be. All the best to you as you work with your words away from this space.

    • MomoSully

      This feels just like finishing a wonderful book with characters I love, and being happy I got to read it, but sad that I don’t get to know how the story went after that. Except that when it’s fiction, I can tell myself I’m being silly because those characters began and ended on the pages I read, it’s not like they’re off having more adventures, and with you guys, that’s not true! You and Maj and Kallan and Mark and the dogs are going to be off doing things (and you’re going to be writing words, even if only in your head), and we’re not going to get to read about it! Which is sad, because the stories have been wonderful, but is also happy, because you’re real and who knows, maybe we will get to read more someday. So good luck, and thanks.

    • Shawna

      oh…oh no.

      You do what you need to do. That is all you ever have to do.

      Knowing that does not make me feel a little less, …less though.

      Go, be happy, we set you free because you were never ours even though your beautiful words made us feel like a part of your world.

      sigh

    • Lexie

      Thank you for everything. You don’t know just how much you affected my life.

      I wish you peace.
      Love to you and your family.