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Old 06-16-2011, 12:22 AM
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Tau (Offline)
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Default Five Smiles by Chris Dean

Gem. A made up name, but probably a good name for her. She had that hair. Dark with violet streaks, and she had lips and hips and pink tipped blue fingernails. Scary jade eyes that read your mind and laughed. Gem, that was a very good name for Mary.

Billy met her at a grocery store where she was throwing grapes and she threw one at him. He caught it! No, really. He caught it and then he popped it in his mouth. So she threw another. Bored, her eyes warned, when he missed that second grape. Slithering across the dull linoleum like a grape-hungry viper, he recovered the greenball before it wobbled to a stop. He turned back with a wide grin that dissipated instantly. Gem was gone. Really bored with him chasing after a dirty piece of fruit that way, she had left the vicinity.


Billy was hurt and deprided.

He met her the second time at a hidden place in the park. It was a magical spot. With fairy spider webs and tiny blue birds in the thick overhead boughs and tree stumps to sit upon left long ago. Billy was himself stumped at the sight of this woman, this violet streaked, blue-fingernailed, jade-eyed wonder, Here? In a secret place like that. Hm. He wondered about it for a while before he spoke, "Hi." He expounded, "Hello." He'd forgotten to smile and now he was wondering whether it was too late.

She wasn't smiling too. Her voice dashed any hopes he had of smiling like a cold lump of lead, BlahBlahBlah. It wasn't nice nor worth repeating. He left without a Blah. Siphoning the profanity out of her vocabulary, she ordered him to stay. He stopped and huddled outside the green pine fairy castle and considered. She dragged him back with a bright giggle. Calling him Bil-ly. He liked that.

Shuffling. More shuffling. He finally emerges. She was perched on a stump and smoking. Ignoring him now because all that shuffling was a boring thing to have to listen to. She looked very pretty beneath the hot shaft of light spearing through the trees, and so he didn't complain about being ignored at all. Wearing a shiny silver cleavage blouse like that? Yeah, he was fine.

When she did finally look at him, Billy reminded, "Hello." Then he added cleverly, "How have you been?"

She gave him her rudest eyes. Bored, they said abruptly, I have been bored.

He stumbled out with, "So, how you know about this place?"

Oh, how she laughed.

That last shred of pride was, yes. He gave a toad shrug and admitted, "I come here sometimes to read."

She laughed again, but this time it was a beautiful sound.

He tried to fall in love for a week because of that laugh. She won't let him but he loves her all the same, but this is not a love story. This is about how Mary(Gem) brought Billy home and introduced him to her wife, Olivia(me).

Two years later, today, Billy still loves Mary. She really is the most wonderful bitch in the world. She bakes and guitars and sails and raises children, you know. She won't paint, but that's okay because I do. There is a very blue painting hanging right over my head that has Billy in the middle.

It happened like this. Billy kept dropping by expected. Things like pickle recipes and fruit stealing and hearts, we all play hearts. Mary told me he's staying one day. That's all I know.

Billy is a fruit-picking whorl of brown eyes, hands that touch things, and excellent deep thoughts. He is in the middle of the painting above my head because that's where he belongs. You see, Billy is always in the middle of things these days.

Billy is often in the middle of Patrick and Annie, holding hands and swinging arms. And he is in the middle of the Mary's garden stealing her fruit. I can find him in the exact center of the house commandeering my flat screen on any given NFL Sunday. Billy is a squeaky lovable Blah that picks at your food grinning and leaves half a cross word puzzle. When it comes to the children, he's a better mother than Mary or I will ever be. He is stuck right in the middle of our life.

We have captured our Billy and we are not letting go. Just like Mary's children Pat and Annie are mine, Billy belongs to all of us. It is splendid! He brought me yellow carnations the other day, you know. He picks them by the river and brings them home for my vases. I often thank him with strawberry cakes.

Now isn't this nice: I am sitting under that blue painting with Patrick's curly red hair nearly spilling past the frame and a shy smile that only Annie could create as she hides in Mary's arms, Billy in the middle hugging me and grinning at my satisfied freckled face; I am sitting under that picture and from right outside my window I can hear Pat singing, Mary calling for her guitar, and Billy laughing. I'm sure Annie must be smiling. Now isn't that nice.
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