johannah rodgers

 

BEFORE AFTERNOON

 

She sat in a lounge chair with her long toes pointed towards the water. It was a Tuesday, she thought, but that didn’t mean anything. She reached for her drink. Mornings were no longer a time of day, just after she got up. She assumed it was still earlier than noon based on the angle and the heat of the sun. It had been raining for weeks so the trees and grass were damp. She liked how the heavy air wrapped around her skin. By late afternoon, it would be steamy, too hot to sit outside comfortably. The big magnolia tree formed a canopy over the pool. Flowers from the tree dropped into the water and floated, dark leaves surround- ing petals that were an orange pink color. Losing track of time had been one of the more unexpected results of her marriage. Four weeks? Six? Thirty days past September April June and November, all the rest have thirty one except February which . . . . The wedding had been July 1, a month after school had ended.

It was strange not to be working. She had been working ever since she left college. She stretched out her legs and looked at them. Her legs made up two-thirds of her body. Beautiful legs, everyone said so. Her husband liked her to wrap them around him when they were having sex. He on top of her and her thighs resting on his torso. She would stretch out her calves when her legs started to cramp. As she did, she noticed how they looked like someone else’s legs, completely discon- nected from the rest of her body. Now, she recognized them as hers. Her legs. Her feet. Ugly feet, too wide, even if her toes were slender and long, the nails painted with a shimmery peach polish.

Spanish moss hung from the big oaks in the yard. It was smoke-colored; no, more like ash. Her sister had gotten married, so why couldn’t she? She liked how the heavy air wrapped around her skin. Her father, perhaps. When she was fourteen, she kissed a boy for the first time and even then she hadn’t particularly liked it. Why did she feel that she didn’t belong here? This was her house after all (his house, really, though he now said theirs). The house was lovely. Everyone said so. It was surrounded by trees and set back down a drive. Near the country club and much closer to town than where she used to live. Here she was, a married woman sitting next to her pool in a yard the size of Texas. He had insisted that she quit her job. I don’t want my wife to have to work. She could no longer piece together what it was that had brought her here. It wasn’t the social ramifications. Her father, perhaps. But her father lived in Nashville.

Did anyone wonder at the wedding? Just because two women lived together, no one assumed they were anything more than good friends. She remembered being drunk at the reception, her hand on his cousin’s back, or had she made that up? The house was lovely. The wedding had been July 1, a month after school had ended. She liked her old life and wondered why she had been willing to give it up so quickly. Flowers from the tree dropped into the water and floated, dark leaves surrounding petals that were an orange pink color. Ugly feet, too wide, even if her toes were slender and long, the nails painted with a shimmery peach polish. This was her house after all (his house, really, though he now said theirs).

She sat in a lounge chair with her long toes pointed towards the water. Her father, perhaps. She assumed it was still earlier than noon based on the angle and the heat of the sun. Maybe she had just married the wrong person. Mornings were no longer a time of day, just after she got up. He had insisted that she quit her job. The air was heavy, humid. She could no longer piece together what it was that had brought her here. Four weeks? Six? She would stretch out her calves when her legs started to cramp. The house was built in the old Spanish style architecture even though it was fairly new. It wasn’t the social ramifications. By late afternoon, it would be steamy, too hot to sit outside comfortably. I don’t want my wife to have to work. She reached for her drink.

She could no longer piece together what it was that had brought her here. The wedding had been July 1, a month after school had ended. Flowers from the tree dropped into the water and floated, dark leaves surrounding petals that were an orange pink color. Her legs made up two thirds of her body. She remembered being drunk at the reception, her hand on his cousin’s back, or had she made that up? She wondered what she had actually done that night and what she had only imagined. Thirty days past September April June and November, all the rest have thirty one except February which . . . . Four weeks? Six? The air was heavy, humid.

Flowers from the tree dropped into the water and floated, dark leaves surrounding petals that were an orange pink color. Ugly feet, too wide, even if her toes were slender and long, the nails painted with a shimmery peach polish. Beautiful legs, everyone said so. Her husband liked her to wrap them around him when they were having sex. She could no longer piece together what it was that had brought her here. Just because two women lived together, no one assumed they were anything more than good friends. Her mother had died when she was in col- lege. And her father lived in Nashville.

By late afternoon, it would be steamy, too hot to sit outside comfortably. The wedding had been July 1, a month after school had ended. Here she was, a mar- ried woman sitting by her pool in a yard the size of Texas. She liked her old life and wondered why she had been willing to give it up so quickly. The big magnolia tree formed a canopy over the pool. The house was surrounded by big trees and set back down a drive. Maybe she had just married the wrong person. Her father, perhaps.

He on top of her and her thighs resting on his torso. Losing track of time had been one of the more unexpected results of her marriage. It had been rain- ing for weeks so the trees and grass were damp. By late afternoon, it would be steamy, too hot to sit outside comfortably. Thirty days past September April June and November, all the rest have thirty one except February which . . . . Flowers from the tree dropped into the water and floated, dark leaves surrounding petals that were an orange pink color. Four weeks? Six? She reached for her drink. Just because two women lived together, no one assumed they were anything more than good friends. She stretched out her legs and looked at them.