Categories
fiction love women

CONFERENCE IN THE TREEHOUSE

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Her voice, small and trembling, woke me like an alarm clock. A single word had me tumbling from the womb of warm sheets.
The drive is quiet, my teeth ground together by the tension, knowing that at any moment, I might arrive to some horror scene, blood and rage. Frightened by what I might do if she’s not alone.
I call when I am outside. Parked a block away, she sobs as she tells me she’s alone.
 Treehouse games and stories we only ever told to one another, and when the inch of space between door and frame shows me a livid bruise around her left eye, I want to give it a violent, violent ending. Inside, I’m all business.
‘What have you packed?’
She looks down, auburn hair hung in her eyes and lean arms wrapped around herself. A runner’s build, but this is one trail she’s been gearing up for, for a long fucking time. Grey vest and faded track bottoms, translucent at the knees.
‘Becky. Get something together. Where is she?’
She shakes her head without looking up. I remember reading an interview with Sean Connery once; he said that there were worse things done to a woman than hit her.  Becky argued death penalty cases, wrote papers that went to Supreme Court Justices and here she was, unable to tell me if she had packed a bag or not.
I sigh and she flinches, which makes a small series of knots, made of of guilt and anguish from palate to bowel, slip itself tighter together. Pressing my palms together as I take a small step forward.
‘Becky, we have to go now. You called me, and I want you to come home with me, but you need to get some things together.’
She nodded and cantered into the bedroom. The hallway was heavy with framed pictures. Even in an age of Instagram and Snapchat, Becky appreciated representations of her history. Lots from her gap-toothed childhood, earnest eyes that looked too old for an apple-cheeked face and fine, windblown hair with my arm around her. Self conscious enough to make sure I sneered in every photo. Little brother, that I was. First boy in the family.  Honour roll, certificates, qualifications, college with the haircut, shaved at the sides and long on top that nearly got her kicked off. 
Jennifer. Five feet tall, ninety pounds. Not insubstantial or weak. Compact. A dwarf meteorite. Beautiful compression, her existence lived like a tape on fast forward. Words all pressed together and an intense line of patter that made you wonder how she drew breath.
Becky didn’t stand a chance against being loved like that.
I’d gone into the academy.
 When they announced that they were moving up to SF. 
Jennifer had landed a great gig working the diversity angle with tech companies eager to avoid being crucified online, Becky, in a resigned voice, said that she could practice anywhere. Thanksgiving was with her family and then Becky shut down her facebook without telling me. A couple one came up instead, Jennifer’s idea.
On the phone, talking like a bad audition for an awful movie. 
Into my career, blue flames shooting out of my ass, looking at making detective and living like a monk. 
Maintenance communications with my family and not even noticing how Becky doesn’t really talk to anyone anymore.
A call from a payphone, sobbing with the pain of it all.
No details, but fuck that was enough. If you had looked at Jennifer and Becky together, you’d have guessed wrong about who did what to whom and the nature of it. No one wants to be a victim, inventing reasons that justify a course of action because that’s easier to saying that life is, to quote Hamlet, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
She came out with a suitcase. Looking around, my forehead furrowed as the silence bothered me. She had everything swamped beneath a sweatshirt that hung past her.  Taking the case, she bit her bottom lip and lowered her eyes. I told her I would use the bathroom and she swallowed heavily. She limped out to the car and I swallowed another slick burst of rage.
I walked down the hall. My apartment was smaller than their bathroom, one of those showers that had multiple heads at angles, black marble and chrome. Their toilet looked like performance art.
I took a quick piss and flushed. The door to their bedroom was open and as I shut the bathroom door behind me, there was the scent of something dark and heavy. My heart was heavy in my chest and I reached for my hip, embarrassed that my instinct outstripped my actual reality.
A lump beneath the duvet, goose feathers hung in the air and the smear of black hair against the pillow. Illuminated by the light from the hallway. The reason she had called me. We had both worked within institutions that served and protected people. Knew that the law was like sausages, that you might enjoy them, but if you saw them made, you’d never eat one again.
The implications, the armchair quarterbacks who would look at her and wonder why she didn’t ask for help, would haunt her. Remembering a bit from a Doug Stanhope show.
‘I don’t like when minorities tell me I can’t understand racism because I’m white. I go: “No, you can’t understand racism ‘cause you’re not white; I hear the shit they say about you when you leave the room! They don’t hold back on my account.”
Same applied to sexism. That, and we both knew how cops and lawyers fared in prison. This was not Peter Harris with his broken arm, but the principle was the same. Love is not a statement that you can rely on in court, My handkerchief came out and wiped everywhere that I had touched.
She sat in my front seat, chin tucked to her chest and hands folded in her lap.
The knife was in the suitcase, wrapped in a hand towel and a plastic bag.  I put my hand on her arm, told her we would figure it out on the way.
Her first smile, cold but familiar to me. We always covered for one another.
The front seat of my car.
The treehouse in the backyard.
Just one more body, that was all.

By MBBlissett

Writer. Working on book-length projects and posting fiction and poetry here.

You can find more about me here: http://wp.me/P4B2tw-1

Represented by SMART Talent Agency (http://www.smart-talent-kent.co.uk/)

I am available for writing projects via my agent, Kelly and I look forward to hearing from you.

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