Friday, July 23, 2010

The Opposite of Shadow

(Because of an inability to communicate the urgent need to change billing at my website, it may disappear. This short fiction was a sample that appeared there.)

Mrs. Travis sat on a red naugahyde footstool in front of the television. She sat near enough to put her hand, flat, on the screen, her knees just touching the cart on which the set rested.

"He's right here, isn't he?" she asked, holding her left palm in the middle of a scene from Loving You. Her hand covered Elvis Presley as he stood in conversation with Lizabeth Scott. "Aren't I right?" she asked again.

"You're right, Ma. You always get it right."

"Now he's over here," she said, sliding her hand to the right and a little down. "Now it's just his face," she said, with both hands pushed against the tv, fingers spread to reach as far as they could. "Now it's the other guy talking. I don't feel a thing when he's on. Uh, oh, he's back." Her palm smacked the screen, landing magnetically on Elvis as he loaded his guitar into the back of an open car. Then the picture changed to a Carpeteria commercial.

Mrs. Travis sat back and folded her hands in her lap, sighing and nodding to herself. "Emma, how many times have I watched this movie?"

"Ma, you know that better than I do. Maybe twelve, fifteen times."

"Exactly eleven times, and Jailhouse Rock eight times, and Love Me Tender five times, and It Happened at the World's Fair five times and..."

She broke off speaking when the movie came back on. Mrs. Travis continued the choreography of slapping, sliding and pressing the screen without speaking until the next commercial. She sat back again, rubbing her palms together, then held them against her face, covering her eyes.

"You know, Emma, I was blind before he ever did make his first picture. Everybody thought it was his voice made him so special, but feel, come here and feel my hands. They're just burning up. That very first time you had Love Me Tender turned on, I could as good as see him across the room. Remember, you said my cheeks got red?"

"I remember."

"It wasn't just his voice. I guess his looks were pretty good, too, that's what they say. But it wasn't that. People didn't know why he got to them the way he did." She turned her head to her daughter. "It was the heat," she said, stretching her hands toward Emma. "It was the heat."


Kass said...

I'm not understanding what is happening to your website, but this is a wonderful piece.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Thank you. It was (past tense) an administrative glitch, changed my account info and they never seemed to update it...time was running out. It seems to have been resolved.

Penny said...

" a volcano that's hot..I'm all shook up". That story is red hot (and who can blame Mrs Travis.

Elisabeth said...

A wonderful story here, Marilynne. The wondrous power of the mind: to see without seeing. Thanks. I'm glad you're website difficulties have resolved themselves.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Penny - Thank you...our senses are the keys to so many things...

Elisabeth - Thank you...I feel silly having mentioned the website biz, it was vexing me.

Sultan said...

Evocative and very well structured.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Thank you.

Lisa H said...

Another small but perfect bite of the Kelly Literary Jewel Pie.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - Watch out for the crunchy parts. xoxo and thank you.