Stephen V. Ramey has been a regular contributor to Pure Slush, first online and then in print, since June 2011. Pure Slush also published his short story collection Glass Animals in January 2013. As well as being involved as a writer in 2014 A Year in Stories, Stephen has written a blogpost every day for the project, which you can find here.
“They say she’s very talented.” Gretta takes a program from an end table inside the split-level’s front door. “And only four years old.”
“She’d better be a frigging prodigy.” The screen door slaps closed behind us. “Ten bucks to hear a kid play piano is a lot.”
“It’s for her Julliard fund.”
“What about my Julliard fund?”
Gretta’s voice drops low. “You’re lucky I’m in a dress, or you’d have a stiletto wedged in your ass crack now.”
“Promises.” I wink.
The foyer dumps us into a room crammed with folding chairs occupied by people I mostly do not know. I do see one neighbor--Jimmy? Timmy? He borrowed my drill and never returned it.
I sit. Gretta settles beside me. We hold hands. Maybe this will be okay. Four months is a good run for me where women are concerned.
A smattering of applause, and a little girl toddles down the aisle, parent in each hand. A fluffy pink princess dress flares from her waist.
“That’s her,” Gretta whispers.
The girl climbs onto a piano bench, briefly displaying a bottom encased in Disney. I bite my lip.
“Thank you for coming,” the mother says. She’s a sturdy woman with hair piled high. “We are grateful for--”
A clashing clamor sounds as the girl pounds the keyboard. Blang! Clang! Clong! Clong! Gretta’s grip tenses.
“Wait, honey,” the father says. The girl gives him a hateful glare. Blung! Blam! Clang!
“Without further ado,” the mother says. “Purity Susannah Lush.” The aural assault continues, one pounding beat after another. My teeth clench their teeth. Gretta watches stoically.
The performance ends as abruptly as it began. “I’m hungry!” Purity hops down and pulls her parents away.
“Thank you for coming!” echoes from the next room. All around us, smiles and pleasant nods. Must be relatives.
“I’ve heard worse,” Gretta says. She releases my hand.
A warning glare. “She’s four years old, Johnny.”
I drive right through that stop sign. “She’s a brat. If I’m her dad, I spank her Ariel ass.”
Gretta frowns. “That’s an awful thing to say.”
“That was an awful thing to endure.” I snort. “Who the hell names their kid Purity, anyway? Purity S. Lush. No wonder she pounds the keys so hard. How’d you like to wake up to that moniker on your fucking fourth birthday cake?”
Gretta’s frown gives up. She grins.
published 6 December 2014