As usual, when arriving from a concert, she retrieved her Tripsta bag from the underbelly of the overfed double-decker bus, checked if her violin case was closed securely and if her electric blanket was inside Tripsta, and only after all was inspected, turned towards him, who had been patiently waiting and watching on Bachelor’s Walk.
Such shiny black hair! Such supple white skin softened by Ghee (even the smell couldn’t put him off, he was so into her)! But when he placed his palm on her bum, she jumped away, “Your hand’s cold!” and handed him the plastic bottle filled with hot water.
“I asked the driver to stop at Heuston Station, to fetch boiling water from a cafe. Warm them up first. How are you?”
He assumed this was a signal for him to start talking.
He was still mellow after Skyping with his kids from his torn thorny marriage: two six-year olds, twins Meara and Sheela, to whom he had sent, to Waterford, a pair of plushies. “Did you call her Flopsie?” he asked Meara about the piggy, “It was on her tag.” “No, she‘s now Silky.” Meara held Silky close to her while Sheela mooed, hugging the calf. He didn’t disclose that he was not coming back, that he had decided to stay in Dublin with a moody musician who made a mountain out of every mousy problem… He rushed their Skype to get to the bus stop on time.
And now he stood hesitating: would she be willing to be introduced to his daughters? Would he be brave enough to inform her that this is his need? His mother was a control freak with a streak for evocative language. It still rang in his ears, “Due to your hemolytic disorder, you can’t run in the schoolyard and play with your classmates.” Once she attacked him with a wooden hanger and shook him; he retreated within himself and couldn’t voice himself properly, even at 36.
He will approach the topic by making his girlfriend smile, telling her about the toys. He uttered, “They named them Silky and…,” but she interrupted right then. “I have too many stimuli on this busy sidewalk… and non-gallant Donegal farmers have sucked my energy dry.” He objected, “Only three words!” but she was insistent, “Wait until I recover… I’m so knackered and nauseated… do you want to pull Tripsta?”
And here is when his childhood, with a high-strung, hysterical mother, flashed in front of his eyes… in his memory membrane… He froze up inside himself in spite of still clutching the hot bottle… Even though his girlfriend announced that she’d “just come back to life” and he was now permitted to start talking about his day…
He attempted to utter the three words but a spasm incapacitated his throat. Holding back tears, he dropped Tripsta’s handle and sped up towards George’s Quay, where J.J. Kavanaugh & Sons coaches to Waterford stopped, repeating to himself what she wouldn’t hear:
“Silky and Milky.”
Margarita Meklina is a Russian-born bilingual writer who works and lives in the city of Dublin. An author of the recently published young adult novel ‘The Little Gaucho Who Loved Don Quixote’, as well as six collections of short stories in Russian, she is a regular contributor of literary fiction and essays to such magazines as The Honest Ulsterman, The Galway Review, The Brooklyn Rail, The Cumberland River Review, The Red Earth Review, Words Without Borders, and many others. Her work in translation from Russian was also published in Norton Anthology’s Flash Fiction International, Mad Hatters’s Review, Eleven Eleven by California College of Arts and Crafts, and Russian Life.