By Bruce Jackson
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April’s are just the opposite, so dark that the last time she was taken to the emergency room, the paramedic could not distinguish the pupil from the iris. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here for your father’s funeral last year,” he says. She hears by the gravel in his voice that he means it. “It was two years ago,” she answers. “And there’s no need to apologize. ” “I got it. Thank you. ” “I’m sorry, Oliver. I wasn’t in a frame of mind to talk. ” “Of course not,” he says. ” “It was hard on Buddy. I became his legal guardian, though I’m pretty sure the judge had his doubts.
Her Western boots were silver-tipped, imitation snakeskin, as if she were someone to contend with. ” she said. ” Oliver grazed his fingers over the keys without depressing them. He wanted to ask her something, but what? The question floated in his mind, just below articulation. April got up and slid down along the side of the upright piano, her usual spot. On the floor, she pulled her knees to her chest and bowed her head. Oliver began the song with eyes opened this time. He noticed that her hands, now raked through her hair, were in fists.
He squats beside her, her eyes glassy and unfocused. “April,” he says hoarsely. ” For an instant their eyes meet. “He was afraid of the dark,” she says finally. “Remember? ” Oliver bows his head. He touches her back, her dress damp. “Let’s go,” he says, feeling a catch in his throat. ” She gets to her feet in a slow, druggy way. He is surprised by her compliance. The way she looks, he thinks he can suggest anything and she will agree. ” he asks. “I pace,” she says. ” “My body won’t stay down. ” Ballast, Oliver thinks.
Fieldwork by Bruce Jackson