The Fickleness of Desire

*This is an excerpt from a book of fiction I am working on in draft form. This is some background to the main character, Sam.* You can see other chapters on this blog.
Her father was a tall thin man with fine soft skin and equally thin hair he absently ran his hand through ending this movement with a sort of swoop of his long fingers that signalled the end of a thought. He was an isolated man, full of regrets and sorrows he carefully managed like cutlery in a drawer. He was reticent to accept any kind of emotional expression and rejected assumption as a failure of research. Facts. He hung his hat on the concrete, the tangible and life precisely as it was and not what anyone reconfigured it to be in a metaphor. Euphemistic was an insult he used with glowering disdain.
For Sam, growing up in this environment had twisted her ordered genes into roiling knots of subterranean desires, secrets and dramas she longed to chase down, like phosphorescence, glinting always there on the edge of the room, past the neatly arranged fixtures of their ordered home.
Her father once looked at her across the table and quietly announced that she would ‘never marry because she was too fickle’.
She had shifted uncomfortably on her chair not because she was sentenced to a life as a spinster but rather that she was fickle in her father’s eyes, a sin of a weak character surely.
She stared down at her toes to avoid his eyes, noticing that the sun had tattooed a V pattern on the tops of her feet from her thongs.
She knew there was something inherently wrong with her, confirmed by the quiet but firm way her father had set his coffee cup down, folded his newspaper with deliberate care and left the room.
Despite his best efforts, however, her fickleness could not be beaten, could not be shamed, screamed or humiliated out of her. Her mother, in a last effort to dampen the escalating conflict, told her to stop wanting everything so badly; it would only hurt her to be so riddled with desire.  But no matter how hard she tried to be invisible, to become absolutely content with their small house, small town, small dreams for her, she stubbornly shone, unable to be scheduled into the subtle dying of her mother’s spirit, the 9 pm medicine delivery her father divided into her hand in manageable swallows for a mother that never suffered from wanting, but rather, from never having known she hadn’t needed someone’s permission before asking for anything in life.
Her mother had died ‘a saint’, and she longed now for her softness, her ability to placate her father’s insistent realism, her small cluck at him from across the room that would re-align the tracks of their family, righting their path into instant goodness that neither her father nor she had been able to do since.
She had burned with a kind of fever to escape from the stillness of the house after her mother had gone. She knew, more than other girls in her school, that fevers were for the dying and yet she had never felt so alive, lying there in her single bed, the phosphorescence of her imagination tugging her out from under the painful oppression of her father’s grief, towards open doors and kicked off shoes and music and words full of metaphors and she had known deep inside her, somewhere, there were people like her, feeling just this way, lying under a cool sheet in the middle of summer, burning up with an unfettered desire for their own life to begin.


Filed under Fiction

2 responses to “The Fickleness of Desire

  1. Katherine

    Hey Mags, take this any way you want, you after all, are the writer, not me. The line “the 9 pm medicine delivery her father divided into her hand…..” The her of her hand had me thinking it was Sam and I had to reread it to make the correction. Just thought you would want to know. Your prose is amazing, great imagery.

  2. Thanks Kath! I love that you are editing, I need it!! Actually, I meant Sam’s hand. As in, he gave the meds to Sam to give to her mom. I don’t know why, but that is what I saw in my mind’s eye, as her father didn’t want that intimacy or the mother didn’t want it, but it was Sam who gave the medicine to her mom. I’ll re-write it though so it’s clearer. These are are FIRST drafts so appreciate the edits and feedback from everyone who cares enough to read. 🙂

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