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46
their hiding by the hundreds. Oriana
kneels on the window ledge, pointing
I don’t know what
and squealing with delight at the slimy,
to say to any of this.
alien-like creatures. Dad appears in
the kitchen, ready for our walk around
A lifetime of feelings
the garden. Wellington boots, three
sweaters, a scarf and his tweed cap.
imprisoned in cold
Mother finds a large jar, punches some
holes in the lid, and hands it to my
storage begin to
delighted three-year old. “For the snails
dear,” she whispers. ooze their way
The intimate chat on top of dad’s wall
turns out to be a narrated tour of the
under the door of
homestead that he has cultivated over
the past 15 years. He walks slowly, talks
our relationship.
in short sharp sentences, being careful
to avoid looking directly at me. I hear all
his unsaid sentences as a continuous
built to mark the entrance into the hay Later that day, Dad sits in the chair
rolling thunderclap in my chest.
field, and under the doorway of lilacs in front of the TV. Oriana lies on her
I listen as Dad dramatically understates
into the orchard of apple, plum, and tummy on the floor beside him. She
the amazing feat it took to turn a seven-
pear trees. “Trees are doing well this traces her finger along the outside
acre potato field into a work of art.
year Liv. Looks like mother will have of her jar following the slimy trails of
Sweeping his arm over the vast expanse
plenty of fruit for her pies.” snails searching for a way out of their
of swaying yellow along the brook by
We sit on up-turned milk crates and glass prison. “Come and sit down Liv.
the lane, he declares proudly; “Planted
watch the bees as they hum in and out Come, and let’s finish our chat on the
1000 bulbs for your mother in 1981. She
of the four beehives. “Lost a whole wall.” I am stunned. Chat? But... but
likes daffs.” I follow him as he walks
swarm this winter. Got caught with we didn’t chat. We couldn’t. We failed.
gingerly across the immaculate front
an early frost.” I don’t know what to And then it hits me. This day. This trip
lawn to the red flag protruding from the
say to any of this. A lifetime of feelings around the garden was Dad’s way of
hole in the center. “Played some good
imprisoned in cold storage begin to communicating, of letting me in. Of
clock golf this year Liv.
ooze their way under the door of our course! I get it. Oh my god. I get it.
I’m par two now.” He bends down to
relationship. I have no idea what to do I pull up a chair close to his recliner. He
pull a few wild strands of grass from
with the messy goo. The warm and switches over to the BBC news. He lays
the hole. I imagine the daily after-lunch
generous expressions of love, respect back and lets his arm fall over the side.
ritual; pushing in his chair, folding
and admiration that I hoped would His hand opens towards me. He looks
his napkin, walking to the front door,
leap forth, are stuck inside like a warm straight ahead yet the call of his heart
putting on his cap, pulling his club from
tongue to an icy lollypop. They will is deafening. Terrified, and glad that
the umbrella stand, and marching onto
have to wait. Mother is making tea in the kitchen,
the front lawn to putt a few holes while
Oriana proudly presents us her jar, I gingerly allow my hand to fold over
mum does the dishes and makes the
now crammed full of snails, “Look! his. The pressure in my chest pushes
tea. “Golf is good for the digestion.”
Look Mama! I got lots of ‘nails!” She up into my throat. Princess Diana gets
Digestion? Or for avoiding the quiet
rests the jar on Dad’s knee. He shifts off a plane in Ethiopia. The jar of snails
possibility for intimacy that arises after
uncomfortably and looks away. I want sits on the coffee table.
one has finished a good lunch?
to rest my hand on his arm, tell him, Dad’s hand is cold and feels strange.
He tries, unsuccessfully, to mask his
“It’s OK Dad, you can talk to her, she I don’t like it and I love it. I want to
pride as he points out the “Oriana”
really likes you,” but I don’t. I’m afraid run and I want to stay in this position
Rose that he found in a catalogue
to touch my father. Afraid of how forever. My breath is shallow and my
and ordered from Italy. It takes front
desperately uncomfortable an obvious eyes are leaking, but I dare not move
row position in the largest of his prize
display of affection would make him my head to look at what Dad is doing.
winning rose beds, bordered by low
feel. Afraid of the unfamiliar depth to He finally breaks the grip. Relieved,
decorative concrete walls. We pass by
which it might touch me. “Better go in I take a deep breath. He gets up. Looks
the mini stone Arch de Triumph that he
now Liv, it’s getting chilly out here.” around for his stick. Crooks his arm,
avantoure | anthology of temptation
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