Moi, Je Suis la Porte
Bea was wearing her birthday present, a neon rainbow-striped raincoat with a tiny matching Sou’wester hat. A little plastic umbrella, bound shut and lying by the tire swing, completed the set. Bea’s neon coat radiated and vibrated in the bull’s-eye of happiness.
Bea practiced French carols from school, or French play songs her mother once sang. The wind lifted lyrics: Jouez, hautbois, resonnez, musettes or spun them in circles: Napoléon, cinq cent, soldats. Whippy little songs went with whippy wild hair, tugged in playful, increasing puffs.
A plump gust knocked off her cap. Now it decorated the shimmering tree like a cuckoo that clucked and swayed with her singing. She addressed her hat in song: Les jeunes filles font comme ça, and curtsied. She turned back, face-forward into the smooth and lustrous pulses.
The air was kitten paws, puppy kisses: insistent. Like when wind winks at the screen in the hour before the sun comes up or the hour after the sun goes down, when the waffled tip of her nose itched.
Outside by the little tree, Bea’s little umbrella shrugged and rocked on the lawn. Air mussed and combed her hair. Air puffed up her little raincoat then flattened it out, defined her little stick figure. She wore ruched white socks, one of them grape jelly–stained at the ankle. Been like that all week.
Indoors, Bea’s mom exercised. It required stringing ropes and pulleys to the locked living room doorknob. She inhaled and exhaled, a bellows making her own weather. She didn’t like prying eyes. When the wires will have gone down and the power will have fizzed out, she will become angry. She will open the pocket door to the kitchen and will see the shirt box, its tissue on the floor. She will growl, her face fallen. A neighbor saw Bea’s fine sharp silhouette, blown hair drawn long like a pencil sketch that commingled it with Vs and Vs of branches. Her cape of color stretched and spread like dampness through neighborhood views, like the music of oboes and bagpipes. Little foot soldier, age seven, traversing imaginary Ponts des Arts. That neighbor, R. Harmer, sketched what he saw upon Arches. He was quietly famous. His drawing of what followed fetched $18,000, less the commission, when his estate dissolved.
He saw this little neighbor by this little tree in her funny little coat near a little house in this little town of four square miles and 10,000 people and a town hall that is a memorial to a young man, Hartley, who was 22 in 1930 when he died in a car crash in Paris. Hartley’s father’s grief was made of marble, granite, brass, francs. But today R. Harmer spotted an unspoilt child with his bright loving eye. In a moment, one that decays very little, Bea tipped forward. The wind let her stand tippy-toes. The lift, the very sky, enveloped her. She leaned, leaned, leaned. She rose. Her little umbrella hopped like a jay. She did not know this song in French, so sang in English: sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. A screen door, overcast, slapped past its hinges. Bea fell upon one knee. R. Harmer disappeared into his good lines, and the little saint got drug indoors, hot-faced and pleading.
A.E. Weisgerber can/will be found in SmokeLong Quaterly, Structo Magazine, The Collapsar, DIAGRAM, FLAPPERHOUSE, and Gravel Magazine. Recent nonfiction is in The Alaska Star, Alternating Current, Review Review, and Change Seven. She reads for Wigleaf, and her work-in-progress is an illustrated fiction titled Lives of the Saints. Follow her on Twitter @aeweisgerber, or visit anneweisgerber.com.