Rosemary Jones

The Girl in Me

A cold and bitter Friday in January. Almost midday. I push at the black iron gate, cross the flagstones, and step into the courtyard. My body startles. From above, a cry sheers into the space as if someone is being hurt. A second later it comes at rapid fire, high pitched, tossed into the air. Wild spirits. I look up. The courtyard is deserted. I am the only ear. Walking. Faster. Somewhere behind the lattice windows on the second floor, a couple is making love. I can almost feel his strokes as her sounds wheel into the air, a bird cawing with sharp, rhythmic joy. My mind flips backwards. One scene. Another. My past, unraveling above me. A hand placed over my mouth in Cairo so his aunties in the upstairs apartment won’t hear. A sshh soughed into my ear on the mattress on the floor of a flat in North Adelaide: neighbors! And sometimes, a free calling allowed to rent the air. The first time I ever heard a woman like this, the sound gathered up steam like cats mewling, as my young face blinked into awareness. Too present. I might as well have landed in her room.

Remembering the distance travelled, I reach the archway, turn in, haul open the door, up the stairs. The sound shuts off. I don’t hear anymore. I reach my office, the neo-gothic oak door with a heavy old-fashioned latch students marvel at, fumble over. As I step inside, I glance out through the windows back across the courtyard. A blind shutters one window opposite. Later, when I look again, though I have to get up from my desk to do this, the blind has been snapped up and a young man sits erect, a silhouette in front of his desk lamp, quietly studying. As if he has been doing this all along. But I know otherwise, the girl in me.

 

Rosemary Jones is an Australian whose fiction has appeared in magazines such as The Sleepers Almanac, Denver Quarterly, Sonora Review, Gargoyle, and Brilliant Flash Fiction, and has been read on Australian national radio. Her nonfiction has appeared in Hoot, Brain, Child, Creative Nonfiction, and Cimarron Review. In 2015, she was awarded the Alligator Juniper national prize for nonfiction. She teaches at Yale where she also works as a writing tutor. Her favorite sweet treat is chocolate, especially Belgian chocolate, but almost any kind will do.

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