Friday, November 25, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Dawn Defines


She defined love for me every morning at 5:00 AM. My parents couldn't afford an alarm clock, so we rose on hers. I knew at least three other families - one in our tenement, two in hers - that did the same. While my brothers fought for the hot water, I scurried over to the window. I called her Dawn.

She was appropriately blonde, the downiest stuff you ever saw. Nostalgia’s probably colored my memory. It does that without asking. If you asked my little self, she was incomparable, an angel in threadbare linens. Most mornings I didn't catch sight of her before she got out of bed and into the bathroom, but I tried. I was at that age.

Six days a week I did catch her exiting the bathroom, though. She might look out their window, but never up for a Peeping Thomas a story above and across the alley. In those early rays of yellow and orange, her skin was raw and pinkened from the freezing shower. And then she'd put bobbies in her hair, pinning and hiding it all up.

I'd take my breakfast at the windowsill and consume her ritual. Guess observance was my ritual. Dawn’s was to wrap her breasts, mashing them into her ribs so as even I got uncomfortable. They had to fit into her husband's old uniform. She'd lace the boots snug, pull on the too-fat gloves, and button things up to her chin. The tools waited for her by the door as she made sure he had his bedpan and a glass of water.

Don’t remember a morning where he got up. She'd kiss him on the forehead, then squat under the weight of his pack and embark for the mine. Someone had to, to ensure he'd have food and medicine tomorrow. Some nights she'd come back so coal-stricken you couldn't tell her apart from the dusk. All that radiant beauty, scrubbed pink and strapped down. Tomorrow after tomorrow.

Nowadays, that's what I think love is. It's what you'll do to yourself for someone else. I've had four women tell me I'm wrong, and all four walked out on me eventually. But you know, I drove into hurricanes and stayed through cancer-scares when they needed somebody most. So I don't regret. I did my part getting us to dawn.

25 comments:

  1. Your work is a masterclass in language, ideas and execution.
    Adam B @revhappiness

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, you four. Was there anything that struck you in particular in this piece?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. That was more poignant than I'm used to you from you, took me by surprise in the best way possible.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautiful.. full of longing and losing, and tiny scattered fragments of memory. The language is sublime..You're on form Mr Wiswell, Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, pretty memorable, I think. I like his parting lines.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice writing John.

    A person doing what they believe is right, for a person they believe is worth doing it for, has to be love.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful - it's says I'm anonymous up there but it's me ,
    helen-scribbles ^__^

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very deep, introspective piece John. I like the reflection and understanding the mc has and how in tune he is to listening to his consicous.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like this a lot. Too many people think they know love when they don't know commitment.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great picture of devotion and endurance, John.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is probably the best one you've done. Amazingly beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "It's what you'll do to yourself for someone else."
    That's a great line. It needs the rest of this touching story to be that great line. But that one is my favorite.
    Thanks for this one, John.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow. Not sure I can add anything that hasn't already been said above, really. What I can say is that I loved it. A tender, touching piece. Thanks, John.

    On a less than serious note: how loud is her alarm clock?

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is so emotional and raw. Packs a whopping punch. Great job, John.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love the tone of voice in this one. Conversational and confiding, and then you slip in that last paragraph. Excellent stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow. I like the way this starts off kind of creepy, almost stalker-ish, then tells dawn's story and ends with a touching sentiment that hints at the narrators own story. Awesome stuff, John!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is beautifully elegant. I felt like you gave us just enough detail to let our minds paint vivid pictures of the characters in this piece.

    I'd agree that his is one of the best of what I've read of your stuff so far. I'm hard pressed to say why exactly. It's deeper somehow.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The best part about this is the uniqueness. Great way to talk about love.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's a great story, but the sad part (for me) is the reality that some people can't accept true love and devotion. Four women, and they all walked out? Maybe it's because true love and devotion creeps into their personal space, and they can't accept intimacy for what it's really supposed to be: deep and close.

    ReplyDelete
  20. My internet is back :)

    Such a touching story John. It's amazing what we will do for others.

    "Nostalgia’s probably colored my memory. It does that without asking"

    Very true observation!

    ReplyDelete

Counter est. March 2, 2008