THE PARTING

1 Jan

THE PARTING
old woman photo: Grumpy Old Woman grumpyoldwoman.jpg

Granny Grimwolde frowned at Poppa, and nodded slowly.

“So you’re not going to answer?” she said, an edge to her voice. “I’m sitting here in my rocking chair waiting for an answer, and there ain’t one coming? You make a statement like that, out of the blue and unexpected, and then stay quiet… I’ll tell you what you are, if you like…”

Poppa was very still until a breath of air from the world outside the window stirred his bushy beard. She scowled, hating his reticence, and she stopped nodding slowly. This man of hers could be infuriating! But then, that’s what he’d always been. Even as a teenager she’d run away from him more than once, panties in her hand, whilst he’d watched her, grinning like the oaf he’d always be, and not even calling her name once. Now he’d clammed up again. She remembered the way he’d been prone to clamming up. It was his way of upsetting her, of making a point silently. I mean, how could any woman argue against silence? It just wasn’t fair, never had been, never would be.

“It was you that said it first,” she continued, determined that he would hear. “It was you who said we should try going our separate ways. And after a lifetime together! You know how to break a woman’s heart alright! Plaguing me like no other, tricking me from morning to night and, aye, even after that! Making me believe you loved me and then turning over and snoring when I was properly wound up and desperate for it, for something, for anything! That’s been the sort of man you were back in the old days, and even now, with white hair and a whiter beard, you do it!”

He was stubbornly still and silent, and that white beard was the only animated thing about him. Pig-headed bastard! The least he could do was say it out straight! Not just “it’s time I left you, Grimmy,” (Grimmy was what he’d always called her, though she didn’t like it) “it’s time I gave you a bit of peace while you still have the strength to enjoy it…”

She knew what it was, all right. It was that bitch down the road, seventy if she was a day but still pert and jolly and, yes, and sexy. She’d seen him watching through the window as the bitch had walked past, his eyes as good as on stalks and she was sure he had a lump in his pants when he stared her way. And his eyes were brighter, too. They were never that bright when he looked at her.

“She’ll never want a bluff old cove like you,” she told him, hoping to break his silence with insults. “She’s what I would call sophisticated. She wears decent clothes, the sort in fashion magazines, and her back’s straight, not like your crooked affair! She wouldn’t look twice at you, not in a thousand years! You’re pathetic, that’s what you are, pathetic and self-obsessed! To think that a woman like that, a bitch like that, would even dream of letting a stupid old creature like you between her legs…”

That should do it! He hated his manliness to be questioned even though it had been less than nothing for, oh, for ages. That would drag a reaction from him! He was inordinately fond of that questionable collection of soft objects he kept in his pants! Any suggestion that it might be rejected by anyone would cause some kind of reaction, she was sure of it.

But this time he was silent. Motionless. Quite clearly determined to win this battle with his silence. The bastard! After all, wasn’t it years since he’d last tried it on with her, and wasn’t she still a woman with a woman’s needs? Why, she could go forth into the world away from him, could find a man … there were enough decent men out there who’d quite fancy an hour or two with her, she knew it, it sometimes happened, it had to because of his … what would you call it? His sudden impotence? His none-existent sperm-count? His loss of love for her?

“I know what it is,” she continued, determined to wound him into some kind of response with her words. “I know exactly what it is. You just don’t want to face up to the possibility that if you go off with that bitch you won’t be able to do anything for her! She’ll beg you – I can almost hear her superior voice begging for this or that bit of satisfaction, and you with a sloppy grin on your face and laundered trousers! And now you say … Poppa, don’t you know how cruel you are? Now you say you want to leave me? Why? What have I done…?”

His silence was resolute. Determined. Angrily, she stood up and nudged him, needing to push some sense into him. This had gone on for quite long enough.

She was surprised how easily he moved to one side, away from her, and then how he slithered to the floor as if he was asleep. And she was dumbfounded when she caught sight of the half dozen or so maggots crawling between his lips and down his nose and from one of his eyes…

“So that’s what you meant…” she whispered, “I … I’m sorry…”

It was then that she screamed.

© Peter Rogerson 01.01.15

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