I walked over to the thinking bridge as quickly as I could without attracting too much attention and practiced running my tongue over my teeth to be sure they’d be sharp as a tiger’s when I did smile at him for saying the very charming things he was sure to tell me in private…”
by laine perry
I have been desperately moving toward the wrong man all of my life. All I have run into so far is his shadow. Still, I know it is him by the way he tilts his head to the left, ever cautious, when he senses me circling him. He is taller than I was told…yes, I was told about him when I was still a girl, and filled with dreams of what he might like to say to me when the day came for us to meet. The first summer my mother warned of his coming, I was eleven years and twenty-three days, I walked over to the thinking bridge as quickly as I could without attracting too much attention and practiced running my tongue over my teeth to be sure they’d be sharp as a tiger’s when I did smile at him for saying the very charming things he was sure to tell me in private. Men liked to practice their conversation at home with their women so that when it was time for important conversations with colleagues, business partners, clients and what-have-you, the nervousness was wrung out of them, and they could do what their position most often demanded, which was of course, conquer the world. Stop! I am kidding. I don’t know where any of this comes from. I have never believed there was a man for me. My mother didn’t either. I am not a romantic. I do not walk around with romantic visions of men, or love, or life in my head. What did happen at age eleven? I finally fell riding my skateboard. I was moving uphill to our new house on a gravelly road regretting the sun on my back, the freckles on my shoulders, and the lack of food in our refrigerator…teeth.
(illustration: john richen)
Laine Perry grew up on the road with her mom, making music and telling stories. Many more of these stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.