Lovely, Dark and Deep.

This is the story of Fawn Petty, a young girl who lives in a book shop.


2. Chapter 2.

Chapter Two.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

The proceeding days were grey. The clouds hung low in the sky, concealing the sun. They threatened to rain but never did. I thought the sky was sad like me. It missed my mother too. The mornings were silent, the record player never played. I followed my father down in the bookshop every morning, he never spoke. Our lives had turned into a silent moving picture. I watched my father from the back room, as he dealt with customers with a smile painted on his face, but like the sad clown, the minute his performance was over his smile faded.
I would stare at the typewriter too, imagining my mother bent over the desk but made me sad, and only after minutes I would turn away and watch my father again. I missed my mother, my father did too. He was never particularly talkative but he used to talk to me. Now he could just about glance in my direction and throw me a half hearted smile. It was one of those smiles that look more sad than happy, the corners of his mouth were curled up but his eyes, like the clouds always looked as though they were about to rain.

My father loved my mother. Together, they used to show me pictures of their wedding, they both had real smiles and bight eyes back then. They kept the photographs in a dark leather, hard bound album. The first page said “Laura and Miller Petty 1986”. They had a wedding in the winter, and the next year I was born. Our second name was much debated over, because of the book store. It originally belonged to my mother’s grandfather. 
The sign over the door read “McBride and Son”. My mother became ‘Son’ though, and she inherited the shop from her father when he passed.

My father loved my mother, and my mother loved him back. But then one day she didn’t love him any more. So she ran away, leaving her husband alone in a book shop that wasn’t his, with a daughter that was partly hers.
When the clock struck six o’clock, my father would turn the open signed around, the book shop would close and the lights would go out. I’d follow him back through the rooms and up to the stairs. Him turning off the lights as he went, always leaving me momentarily, behind in the darkness. Then he would make dinner while I sat on the floor of the kitchen beside the record player, listening to my mother records. Sad songs. She had towering stacks of records full of sad songs. I worked my way through the pile. 
I was looking for my mother in the words of a song but she was never there.
We would eat dinner with out a word, and then we'd clean our own plates in silence. The water gushed from the tap with such force it sent bits of  food flying across the kitchen counter. This food accumulated over the days. 
It was like a calendar, I could tell how many days my mother was gone by how much food was never cleaned from the table.

Then we'd sit together on the couch, my father watching the television and me in a mindless daze. I tried to follow what was going on,  but I never could. I’d stay there with my father until my eye lids got heavy, and then I'd go to my room. It was  always dark when I got there and before I’d close my curtain I would stand in front of the window and watch my reflection in the darkness, the little girl who looked sad and lonely, and tired from sleepless nights. She didn’t want to go to sleep and dream of her mother because when she woke in the morning  she realised her mother wasn’t there and she cried.

Then I’d take a book from my shelf and sit on my bed. I’d read until I fell  asleep and wake up the next morning with my head still between the pages of the colourful pages.
I was almost too tired to dream. 
One night I heard noises though,the soft closing of a door, the creeking of the stairs. I knew he had left me alone when I heard the loud closing him close the  heavy shop front door. I got out of bed and went to sit with the record player for the second time that day, but this time I played the record that was playing the night I listened to my parents shouting. I waited in kitchen for my father to come home, but the record played out first, so I left it in the player and returned to my bed.

Just when I had fallen to sleep I was woken by the sound of foot steps,not foot steps  I could  recognise though. They were not the steady foot steps of my sober father. They were the messy foot steps of a drunk, I could hear the shuffles and the lack of balance. I heard him fall and knock books from the shelf and I winced. Then I heard him stumble up the stairs, tripping and creaking. Muffled sobs.

The record player started again but he didn't changed the record. So I stayed awake and listened. I tried to concentrate on the music, but I felt so alone as I listened  to my father cry, and after sometime I noticed that I was crying too. I was drowning my pillow. I cried because  I was frightened at home on my own. I cried because I was lonely and I wanted my mother. I cried because my father cried and we cried because it was time. It was time we stopped pretending it was all right when everything was falling apart.
 The sound of our cries drown out  the sound of the record player, and then, when my pounded and my eye lids were heavy and there was no more tears to cry I finally fell asleep. The next morning when I woke, and opened my curtain, it was raining. The sight was reassuring, and the sound of the rain drops was comforting.

At breakfast my father smiled at me knowingly and I smiled back at him too. His eyes were red and and dark circles loomed underneath. The smell of coffee lingered in the kitchen and I noticed the food had been swiped from the kitchen counter. We went down to the book shop and together and picked up the books my father had knocked to the floor the previous night.
The covers of those books were dark and uniform, a collection. Classics.  Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Wilde, and Joyce. I knew all the sections of the book shop, though I could only read from one: the children’s corner. 
The classics section however, was my favourite, simply because of the people who inhabited it. They wore dark clothes and glasses, wild hair on men and women alike. They were the most interesting people I had ever seen. I didn't need to speak to one to know. I just did.

I suppose, my parents, way back when where -Classic section inhabiting young adults- they had glasses, and smelt of dusty books and they never cared much about their hair.   
I always hoped I could become one of those people. I was in the makings already, I had glasses, and crazy hair. I did not however, yet lay claim to an acquired taste for strong coffee, or the age and experience in reading. But I was getting there.

When my father knocked the books from their shelf it was almost as if he had knocked a bit of his own intellect out. I suppose he had. I almost felt as if for the shortest part of a second I was taking care of my father when we had returned all the books to the shelf and he gave me a look that seemed to mean 'I promise it won't happen again'. 

That evening when the shop closed and dinner had been eaten, my father didn’t turn on the television, but instead took the record player from the kitchen and started with it towards the sitting room. “Follow me” he said, and I trailed behind. He unplugged the television replaced it with the record player. He went back to the kitchen, and returned returned five albums I hadn't seen before. It soon became obvious why. They had come from the smaller stack of records I had been ignoring since my mother had gone. They were from his tower and although you could not truthfully describe their songs as up beat, they were certainly more pleasant. We sat on the couch for the rest of the night. I watched as the needle spun round and round. Each time a record had finished, my father would change side, or record. I didn’t leave to go to bed,when I was tired but when I fell asleep on the couch and woke up in bed.

After that, time started to pass quicker. The pain was drained from our days. Words began to flow again, and although I still thought about my mother regularly the stabbing feeling became less intense
Until I saw my mother again.

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