Academic journal article Hecate

Pipedream

Academic journal article Hecate

Pipedream

Article excerpt

Margot's breasts peel finely. Looking closely into the puckers of flesh and small, pale moles, she can see how like her mother she'll one day become: the skin between her neck and breasts ruined and wrinkled.

The tips of Margot's nipples still sting from Thursday's sun. She peers down her dress. Fat blisters are forming. Running a finger under one breast, she feels sweat and the heat of her burning.

At the back of the shop, Ted and Mrs. Pipe argue about how many sausage rolls should be cooked. Margot spits on her thumb and rubs it across the patches of skin already peeling. She unzips her uniform, wondering if Mrs. Pipe's second son will really marry the hairdresser across the road after what he did to Margot last Thursday, her day off. She was sunbaking near the river when he pulled up in his boat and said come for a ride. He told her he knew plenty of places along the river for all over tans. Not that he was brown all over. When he stood up to steer his boat round the shallow island sandbars, Margot had seen the white, hairy skin of his bottom. He had a fat bum and there was a pimple next to the high riding red of his speedos. Red swimmers. Red pimple. His thick, frightening thighs made her want to falter and melt backwards like the buttery slicks of oil running beside the boat. The throbbing engine. The moment she was in his boat she felt regretful, but by then the boat was already mid river and moving away from the town.

Mrs. Pipe says, "don't waste time Dear. Sweep properly", while Margo thinks how Mrs. Pipe's second son doesn't like her to waste time either. The coconut oil, he told her, would kick her all over tan off to a great start. She undid the neck straps of her bikini obediently. She felt bold then. Not even clear of town and the blue nylon triangles flapped free of her breasts like flags in high wind. Her breasts were white like the Civic Centre flagpole growing thinner as they moved away; white like the diminishing patch of boatramp or the puffs of cloud that hung above the town. But she'd kept the back bikini strap in the bow her mother had tied for her that morning, so that now, a white line travels across her skin like a thin, inadequate fence. Or the smooth satin ribbon of her tiny Christening dress that hangs with lavender sachets in her mother's wardrobe, waiting for the first grandchild.

Mrs. Pipe paces up and down in front of the counter. She has a limp and a walking stick and a way of making the floorboards squeak and rattle. Margo lets the broom in her hands make wave patterns in the spilt white flour.

The scud and thump of his boat. The town disappeared too quickly. Against the backdrop of the fading houses, Mrs. Pipe's second son turned the colour of gingerbread. He called her baby and roared the boat along the unsunny side of Greenwood Island. His fat fingers were appreciative of her smooth legs. Someone airbrush you baby? he asked. Mrs. Pipe's second son is an illustrator. My artistic son, Mrs. Pipe enjoys to boast. But mainly he paints strange, unheroic scenes on the sides of panelvans. All the Pipe sons have panelvans, and he has illustrated them all. Sometimes in the lunch hour all the sons arrive at once. They park their fleet of panelvans roughly. They let the engines throb in a menacing way while they get free pies from the Bakery and eye off Margot who must serve them all. Better a feed than a fuck, they say.

In his speedboat, the Pipe's second son was eager to grope at her body. Touching her breasts made his dark, currant-sized eyes shrink and glaze. Shark eyes, so Margot looked at the dark, deep water instead -- the deepest stretch of river where the river sharks doze and breed in the summer currents. The small pattern of shaving dots attracted him. He fingered her bikini line rash, making her remember guiltily her father's outraged yell when he cut his chin with the blunt razor. And the look of her coily, pubic hair stuck to the soggy bar of Lux soap. …

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