Yoharie: Stalking (part three)
“It’s yours. What I said.”
At this second silence, Giarma would have got to her feet…apologized no doubt…for not being into what Trevor was into, for not trusting him enough to believe his gift had been a gift.
She would have said, “Sorry. I have to leave.”
She hesitated, though.
The recognition was unfamiliar…how little of what she felt she would have spoken. The little he’d likely have said in return.
They heard voices, on the walk outside.
“Well, you’re not a kid, are you?”
The other was subdued, but his sister picked up Val in the murmur, and then Trevor too could hear him say:
“I’m just gonna go now, okay?”
Through Trevor’s front door, she heard Hibbler state his case, leaden-paced and dogged. “If you don’t ever think about it, then I guess you just don’t care. Bumping over corners, doing wheelies on the street, not wearing a helmet. No, I can’t cite you any law, since you’re twenty-one, and ’cause technically you didn’t get on the sidewalk…”
Giarma, who had more duty intervening than Trevor, and would have chosen to let it go, rose from his sofa to follow, to stand behind him. Val never wore a helmet. Right now he was walking his bike, Hibbler backing in front of him, offering the mannerisms of a man repeating a thing for the second time. Trevor ushered her off, pulled the door wide, pushed the storm door open.
“Hey, Jeremiah. You know, sometimes I see you go by with your gun and your radio, clattering around the neighborhood…and I say to myself, I wish I had some of that gear.”
“Royce, shut up. You think you got a point, and you don’t.”
“The point is…”
“The point is,” Hibbler said back, “I teach my kids to be safe. I don’t set a bad example.”
“Well, yeah, that’s your job, setting an example for your kids. Other people are just living their lives.”
“Hey, Giarma,” Val said, soft. He’d maneuvered his bike clear of Hibbler. She thought him stymied, fleeing, by what stymied her. To stand, witnessing someone defend you…to not step to the plate. The phrase was wrong. She’d just read a scene echoed now by reality, in The Totem-Maker, the language lofty, but the character’s guilt her own.
“Come on in,” she said to her brother.
And so I sat, on a cold evening; a spring evening that promised frost—as it seems one piece of ill-luck must come in company with another—at work by dim hearth-light. If no one wanted me, I liked this hour between dusk and dark for repairing my few garments, my rug and blanket, my shoes and tools. I had never in my life asked that any new thing be given me. The old woman had treated my outgrowing of clothes as a willful act, vaguely embarrassing…as though I might by stealthy trading, aim for a rise in status.
I sewed, and paid no mind to voices at the door.
I heard one say what I was called, the foundling. The sneer was there; a joke now, those expectations I would have proved a blessing, a prophet to inspire pilgrimage—to make the locals rich.
Someone peered at me, through the door, and withdrew his face.
“Yes, tonight is better,” he said, to Elberin, or to Elberin’s servant.
“How much of your own do you need to gather?” This stranger stepped into the room. He lunged for my basket, but only to snag the handle on one side, lift and drop it. “Is this yours to take away? Will your things fit?”
They would, I told him…because I would make do with whatever could be thrust in the basket, and yes, it was mine. This was my station, not to offer protest, never to query. My confusion would waste his time, and I saw already in these evidences, that he was my master now.
“Chapter One,” Trevor said. He shut the book, his own, hardcover. “Val, you want Chapter Two? You wanna do this next week…or tomorrow…? Or, sure, if you’re not liking it, forget it.”
It was evening. Trevor had started the gas in his fireplace, dimmed to a low blue fingering over the fake log. They had two pizza boxes on his coffee table, his books, a pot of dirt with no plant, a curling clot of Post-Its sticking together as one—and a cat—on the floor where Giarma sat, her back propped against the sofa, legs stretched under the table. She saw this as a bad habit; her job—if they were having dates—to start nudging. Trevor seemed to eat junk all day. And she doubted Val, silent and unsociable, was in. But for herself, she would like to come back.
“I’ve got to work on my stuff tomorrow…” she told Trevor. “But I can take Two. Whenever you decide.”
“Come on the weekend. Sunday’s when I give myself a day off.”
“She doesn’t have any stuff,” Val said.
Giarma pried a crust from its greasy outline.
“Have this,” she told her brother, offering what was on hand to offer, testing. She had let Val live with her when he’d dropped out of school; she’d been his confidante then, or partner in crime, not thinking his whereabouts any of Joanne’s business…since this exile was Joanne’s fault. Giarma had read it between the lines.
She couldn’t at this moment judge whether Val was kidding, mad at her, or only downhearted. He chewed and looked across at them, sprawled on his belly on the sofa, phone between his elbows.
“Reading out loud,” he said.
(copyright 2018 Stephanie Foster)