All Alone at the End of McNiven Rd

Posted on: November 9, 2016

Ancaster ladies don't wear black. For funerals they have suits of midnight blue and charcoal grey. Ancaster ladies prefer crimson and gold for the holiday season (Christmas is a big deal for mother and her friends). The rest of the time they dress in the colours of flowers. Pastels, lavenders, periwinkles, fuchsias and hot pinks. Lime green is a favourite in summer, worn with white slacks—both pressed crisp—a perfect ensemble for wedding showers and dock parties. Their daughters wear black. The girls of Ancaster wear little black dresses and Lululemon yoga pants. It's nothing like the black I wrap myself in.

My blacks are complete. I find black jeans and baggy black sweaters at second-hand stores. They are always too long for my limbs. I roll the cuffs and ball the dangling sleeves around my fists. I smudge black shadow around my eyes and paint it on my lips and nails.

I draw in black, too. Mother buys me pastels and watercolours, but I only draw with charcoal. 

“Why don't you paint something cheerful?” Mother says with her head cocked to the side. She doesn't like the drawing I’m working on; It’s of a deformed fetus in a baby food jar. She asks where I come up with these things.

Mother is on her way to book club in a tangerine tunic worn over denim capris. She has her notes scribbled in blue ink in her notebook, but I know each one of those ideas came from Internet searches. It doesn't matter really—all the other ladies will have similarly poached thoughts and comments from online reviews of the book. Mother dabs more blush on her cheeks and tucks her Coach purse under her arm.

“Why don't you hang out with Chloe anymore, Sweety? You girls used to be so close.”

Close. Chloe and I were close to something once. Now Chloe is a bitch with no taste and even less imagination, but I don't bother telling Mother that. I don't tell her that all Chloe cares about these days is cyber-bullying and giving blowjobs to popular boys. Instead, I tell Mother not to call me Sweety.

Down the end of McNiven road. there is a graveyard. It's old and no one goes there anymore; I doubt most people know it's there at all. To get there you need to pass through the remains of an old orchard. The trees are mainly apples, Granny Smith, MacKintosh and Golden Delicious, but there are also pear trees. In the autumn the pears hang awkwardly from the branches. They just don't fit in with the rest of the symmetrical fruit.

If you travel to the very back of the orchard the trees give way to tall grass and that's where you find the graveyard, hidden at the top of a grassy hill. When I'm here I can't see any of the world below. I can't see Ancaster and it’s fussy boutiques and coffee shops. This is where I come to draw and to be alone. I sketch the tombstones mainly. Some are so weathered that you can't read the inscriptions at all. They stand on the hill, crumbling and worn down by time.

Sometimes I sketch the bones that lay buried beneath. I try to imagine what they look like now. A shred of fabric hanging over the empty cavity that was once a pelvis. Long, white, fleshless fingers wrapped around some token of a life lived—a Bible, or a wedding ring. I imagine what these quiet bones once were. They were farm wives and daughters, wholesome and rosy cheeked. They had soft cascading curls, and smatterings of freckles. They would have been sweet and naive, protected from the world by a strong father and a brood of brothers.

The Ancaster girls have the rosy cheeks and freckles of my imagined farm girls, but none of their sweetness. I lie back in the grass and pull my long black dress above my hips. I'm bare. I am exposed for the tombstones, the sun, and the sky. A few meters away the Ancaster girls are walking home from school. They are kissing Ancaster boys in basement rec rooms. I think of them while I touch myself. I think of blond ponytails piled high on heads - perky, like the girls who wear them. I picture Lululemon stretched tight across asses round as apples. I see their breasts - soft and curved - bouncing as they head down Wilson street for their daily jog.

I see Chloe with her mouth—pink and warm and wet—framed by her always pouting lips. My breath quickens as I imagine biting one of her lips. I see my tongue jabbing into her mouth while I hold her head still by the ponytail. I pant at the thought of it. I imagine that bitch’s mouth tastes like bubblegum—the wave hits and I moan into the sky—into Chloe's mouth. I don't worry that anyone will hear me. I'm all alone at the end of McNiven road.

I walk home after with my drawings tucked under my arm and my thighs smeared with charcoal fingerprints. As I turn the corner onto my street, Chloe runs past, ponytail swinging from side to side. She doesn't look my way, she never does, and I don't care. As she passes I know if I reached out at the right moment I could catch that swishing ponytail and jerk back the pretty, vacant head. I could hold her by her hair and kiss her bubblegum mouth with my black lips. I don't though. I let her run past.

She’s on her way to becoming one of the ladies who dress like flower petals and have nothing to think about beyond book clubs and silent auctions. And me? I'm on my way to becoming a woman who wears black.

Written by: Sarah Scott
Photograph by: Roger Leege

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