Townies

She likes walking home on these kinds of days. 天空灰蒙蒙的,预示着要下雨或下雪,或两者兼而有之. Anything is possible in November in western New York. All the kiddies have broken out their J Crew sweaters and are probably tucked warm in their dorm rooms or are gossiping over flavored coffees (featured flavor Pumpkin Spice!) in the Commons.

This is what you get for being a townie, she thinks. 你可以在泥地里慢慢走在街上,因为那辆车又进了商店. 孩子们开着父母丢弃的沃尔沃和美洲虎飞驰而过. They don’t honk their horns or hoot at her. 事实上,他们直到压到她身上才会注意到她. What’s someone doing walking on the road? They swerve dangerously close to her on the curves. To them she is invisible.

She works in the University store on campus. 她高中毕业后的那个夏天得到了这份工作. It seemed pretty cool at the time although she had sworn to herself that she would never work at the University. 她认识太多做家务的女人,太多做家务的男人. Her aunt worked housekeeping. 在五月,当所有人都离开后,她会把留下的零食带回家. 她还带了没开封的汤罐和炼乳回来. There were half-full containers of laundry detergent and brand new bottles of expensive shampoos. Sometimes there were
clothes and jewelry too. Her aunt pressed them into her hands—silky sweaters, loose charms from bracelets, spray perfumes from Macy’s, tortoiseshell hair combs and barrettes.

“Take it, Sarah,” her aunt urged. “These girls don’t miss anything.”

So, she took it all without a word. 她把毛衣小心地叠好放在最下面的抽屉里. 她在约会前把香水喷在胸间. 在冬天,她用发夹把头发挡在眼睛外面.

She doesn’t feel badly about using these items, never worries that they might be recognized. Her aunt is right; these girls don’t miss anything. They don’t even know it’s gone.

她自己的工作包括监督店里的学生工人. She’s good at it. According to her last evaluation, she is professional, hard-working, and a “quick-thinker.” She tolerates the students she works with because they are mostly scholarship kids. Many of them grew up in neighboring towns and can only attend this University if they work. They live on Ramen noodles and tap water and their shirts are stiff and rough from being hand-washed in the sink.

Along this stretch of road there are the bars that the undergraduates try to sneak into with their fake IDs. In the spring, when everything starts to melt, 她可以去商店买自己的啤酒. She won’t need Lucy Carson’s brother anymore.

“Same as always?他问道,用汗湿的手指擦了擦她的手掌.

It’s something to look forward to.

When she gets home her house is chilly and quiet. She slips off her shoes and checks the radiator. 她想,爸爸还在上班,妈妈可能在跑步. She runs a pick-up towing business and the living room is buzzing with the staticy police report of a car wreck. Her mother is a big woman; tall and naturally strong, her muscles now verging on fatty. Still, she’s someone you’d want around in a car accident, whether it was to get your car out of a ditch or to help temporarily set a broken bone. 她穿着紫色或蓝色的运动服,用一只沉重的手挥动着眼影. 周四晚上,她和闺蜜们在道富街聚会. They play Hearts and drink cheap beer. Sometimes they get silly and make candy-colored mixed drinks for each other with little umbrellas.

她的妹妹23岁,和她的丈夫住在隔着四幢房子的地方. She’s seven months pregnant with her first child.

她爸爸是艾姆斯百货公司的经理助理. He wears a smiley face tie on Fridays. Despite the separate orbits they seem to operate in, her parents have a good marriage. 他们做爱的频率惊人,彼此都很享受. Sometimes she hears them through the thin walls and she pounds her fists on the metal edge of her bed in time to their noises.

“Enough,” she’ll finally shout. “I’ve got fucking work tomorrow!”

因为这份工作,她每学期可以修6个学分. 这是一所文科大学,所以她修哲学之类的课程, Accounting, and Environmental Science. 她没有真正的计划,只是对学位有一些模糊的概念.

This semester it’s English Comp and Spanish. 她们都上夜校,因为她白天上班. She likes night classes. There are more people like herself. She sits next to the other townies and asks them questions about where they live and what kind of work they do. 他们一开始很怀疑,用眼角看着她. They confuse her with the lazy undergraduates who’d rather sleep during the day than bother with classes. But she mentions her mom’s name or she tells them that she grew-up on Fourth Street. Then they warm-up to her.

Sometimes a few of them will gather in the bars outside of town to shoot pool and drink. And sometimes during a slow dance, a wayward hand will creep from the small of her back to her ass. And sometimes with a sort of tired, 微醺的许可下,她什么也没说,只是让那只手停在那里, tucked into the back pocket of her jeans.

Last week, Professor Mott marked See me on her paper. It was her persuasive paper. He teaches English Comp in a world-weary kind of way. She happens to know that he is all of twenty-eight.

Fuck, she thinks looking at his looping handwriting. She’s a pretty good student. 他的两个字激起了她内心深处的愤怒. 那天晚上她辗转反侧,睡不好觉,梦见谋杀.

第二天下午晚些时候她去看他时,他正伏在书桌前. 她脱下羊毛帽,试着弄松她那乱蓬蓬的头发. 他的桌子上放着一盏灯,给这个狭小的房间带来一种温暖、亲切的光线. Sleet batters the window above his desk.

她敲他的门,讨厌她敲门时的胆怯. He looks up and smiles at her. He has his hair done just so. It’s slightly tousled and shaggy in an appealing way. Gel or mousse is probably involved, she thinks. She knows he’s published a book of poetry and had his short stories appear in big magazines. He’s here working on a novel. 她能看出他更想做的是在公寓里写作. 咖啡的香味在背后,沉重的羊毛袜子在他的脚上.

She wonders how the cold will get to him. He grew up in Arizona. Western New York winters will strip him bare. Instead of gaining a few pounds like everyone else who’s hunkered down to wait out the cold, she can see he’s lost weight. 她盯着他干裂的嘴唇,想着冻伤. 他可能连这些警告信号都认不出来. She imagines him teaching class with black-tipped fingers, the tip of his nose missing.

“Please sit down,” he tells her.

He finds one of her first papers and pulls it out. “Sarah Jemsen,” he says slowly. 而她的名字,在他的嘴里,又丰富又陌生.

She shifts slightly in her chair. Her boots are starting to drip dirty water, a combination of mud, snow, and rock salt, onto the floor.

He skims through the paper. “You are very talented,” he says and looks at her.

And she’s caught between two things. Suspended over this abyss of what to do. That old rage still swirls in her stomach. How dare he? Who does he think he is? 围巾潇洒地绕在他的脖子上,小皱着嘴. She wants to take him apart with her fingers. But now she wants something else too.

她想,然后俯下身去吻他,远远地看着他. 她尝了尝他喝的绿茶里的蜂蜜. 她想象着西南部的小石屋和仙人掌植物. She imagines she tastes the grit of sun-warmed sands. It’s a place foreign to her. It’s right here in this country but as accessible to her as if it were on another continent.

She makes him lower the heat in his car. She’s being burned alive. 车内散发出温暖的裸露皮肤和加热的真皮座椅的气味. There are papers scattered on the back seat.

“Is this how you treat our work?” she teases and waves an essay under his nose.

他们在古老的采石场附近星星是天空中明亮的小洞. 她知道如果她一下车,寒冷就会像身体一样袭击她. But there’s no need to leave the confines of the car. 她把膝盖压在胸前,脚趾在他的躯干上扭动. He’s naked and the moon gives him a hard blue sheen. She puts her hand on her belly and feels the faint marks from where his teeth nipped and grazed her skin.

The last time was in Billy Nash’s pick-up; her jeans tangled around her ankles and Billy suddenly shy about his dick, his hand shielding it from her eyes. 他们去了春华饭店,这是县里唯一一家像样的意大利餐馆. They both ate like they had been starving, warming their hands over the candle on the table. The waitress filled their breadbasket three times. 之后,他开车送她回家,枪架在背后砰砰作响.

“It’s only November,” she tells him.

“So?他说着,把她的一缕头发缠在他的食指上.

“So, there’s a lot of winter left.”

“A lot?” He says in a resigned voice.

He came in May last year. It can still be pretty cold in May. One year there were flurries on graduation day. The snow’s usually over by May, though.

Five solid months, she thinks. 五个月来把她的尸体藏在衣服里. 她那双又大又丑的靴子,鞋带上结了一层冰,放在储藏室的门边. 她只能在课堂上看着他一会儿了.

“You’d think I’d be used to it by now,” she says and reaches around to hook her bra.

Her body is a mini-furnace, though. Under the blankets, during those long winter months, her past boyfriends scooted towards her nakedness. 他们在睡梦中瑟瑟发抖,透风的窗户漏出冰冷的空气. They shivered until they came in contact with her skin and woke flushed and sweaty in the morning. They teased her about eating more. They liked her a little fatter, 肉多一点,这样她身上就会有更多的肉来温暖他们, long nights.

She suddenly wonders if he knows how to handle himself if his car hits a patch of ice and starts to skid. Do they teach that to them in Arizona?

“ How old where you when you learned to drive?”

他用手指在仪表盘上敲来敲去,然后瞟了一眼她的乳房. “I was a city kid. I didn’t learn to drive until I was twenty.”

Does he know about the different kinds of snow? The heavy, packed snow? Wet snow? Dry snow? These back country roads don’t get plowed that often.

This car, she thinks. It’s light. It’s nothing. 他选择它是因为它的颜色、浮华的形状和有趣的广告. A bitter taste floods her mouth. He could get hurt or killed in this goddamed car. In January he could end up buried in some embankment and even if he didn’t die he still might be spooked enough to want to leave when the spring came. He’d leave and go to New York City or someplace and she wouldn’t take another goddamn writing class ever again.

He’s kissing her now, light touches down her neck. She avoids his mouth. She doesn’t want him to taste her bitterness.

“What?” he whispers. “What?”

“Let’s go,” she says.

“You have an old soul,” her mother told her once during her Tarot card and séance faze. “就像你以前什么都见过,这一切都让你很生气.”

“Pretty much,” she answered.

They can be discovered out here. A lot of the kiddies come here to make-out. 她不明白为什么他们都有自己温暖的宿舍. Some of the more progressive ones do it because they know the townies do it and they want to be real. The same way they want to get to know her.

She wants to see if he’ll survive the winter. Oh, he’ll survive it physically, but she wants to see what he does when the sun doesn’t show itself for thirty-two days. 那是去年冬天发生的,她把它记录在她的旧蓝色笔记本上. She wants to see what he’ll do once the snow flakes stop being pretty and the sight of them kick starts a deep grief in the pit of your belly. Deep in winter in western New York, snow gives you the feeling that somehow you’ve been forgotten. This is when she will take in his measure. She wants to see how he emerges in April, 他在微弱的灯光下眨着眼睛,周围出现了试探性的绿色.

She warms up herself in the summer. She wears short skirts to show off her good legs. She’s been known to smile and make half-hearted small talk with some of the kiddies in the store and class. 只是冬天,她想跟一些比较好的人解释一下. I’m not always like that.

Last spring she sat on the porch swing with her mother and talked about her sister and her husband. This Spring there will be an infant with them. She will help her father tend the vegetable garden. She will go for long walks along the river and come back feeling better, a little more at peace.

But right now she wants to be home in her own bed. She wants to close the door and call her sister. 她会告诉她一切但她不会说她可能是他的热源, 用她自己的牙齿拖着他度过这个最糟糕的冬天. I’m a townie, she thinks suddenly. And that counts for something.

He dresses and drives her slowly back to her house. 当他们开始上山时,雪开始下了,她看着他紧张的下巴. Before she steps out, she takes his face in her hands and wants to say something so badly but can’t. Some advice on driving in bad weather. This is how you attach the chains to your tires. This is what you do when your car hits a patch of ice. You have to turn into the skid and not slam on the brakes no matter how scared you are. 当你的车在旋转时,你必须在这种不确定性中保持暂停状态. 保持这种状态,在任何结果等着你之前屏住呼吸.

 


玛丽卢·弗斯科(Marylou Fusco)已经在费城生活了八年. She has won the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and Philadelphia City Paper’s short fiction contests and has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer. A nonfiction piece about bread is forthcoming in the literary journal, Many Mountains Moving.