TUESDAY: Agnes French


Copyright is held by the author.

AGNES STOOD in front of the small kitchen mirror, her newly flame-orange hair swept up into a neat knotted nest, the fashionable beehive of the mid to late ’50s.

“Ow ‘oo thoin’ ‘oney?” her voice mimics itself through her tightly drawn lips, pulled back to receive the oily coat of bright orange lipstick she applied, back and forth, back and forth.

“Fine. Where you going?” The exploits of this woman, at least the part of them she confessed to me, never failed to engage me.

“Going out with Bill tonight.” She picked up a comb, teeth on one end, skinny handle on the other, gathered an already obedient clump of hair and expertly ratted it by dragging the comb ferociously down the upright held strands, then lying the tormented group against the oval of her hive, squirted another layer of hair spray on top of the whole.

“I thought your boyfriend was Brian?”

“Oh, that’s over..oh, have you heard this song?” She strode two steps to the top of the fridge and turned the knob on the round brown radio where Bobby Darin sang Thing.

“Things…like a walk in the park…Things, like a kiss in the dark…” She sang along as I slowly shook my head. I had not heard it, but now absorbed each word.

“What about the night we cried?” she sang, then said as Bobby softly recounted his memories in the background, “I love that line. Except…” She paused. “We never did. I mean as a boyfriend Brian did not take me for a walk in the park, or a sail boat ride, or, you know, things, like Bobby Darin says, things you’re supposed to do.”

“Maybe he was busy.” My eight years to her 15 going on 25 showed.

“Yeah. He was. Busy dating another girl,” Agnes said in the voice of knowing about the world I so admired.

“Are you sure?” I blurted out. I had seen Agnes, her hair naturally mousy brown, dyed black and her eyes mascara’d and deeply lined in black with wing tips out the corners. I had watched her apply these lines as she prepared for her dates with him, the one she called “the one.”

“It’s just a feeling I have,” she had answered my questions about how she knew he was the one. “A feeling deep in here, you know?” her fisted hand landed briefly across her belly.

“And,” she had said, leaning over to kiss me lightly on my cheek, “because I am so happy. That’s how you know. And…” She had stood back, looking down at me. “…When it’s your turn, that’s how you’ll know.”

Now he had dated another?

“How do you know?” I asked again, about her belief he had cheated on her.

“Oh, rumours,” she said.

“You shouldn’t believe rumours. Where’s the proof?”

Agnes paused, considered, took a drag off her cigarette. “She told me.”

She said this with enough drama my feet flew to the floor from their perch on the chair’s spool.

“She did? The one he dated?”

This human feeling stuff was more complicated than I’d imagined.

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