FICTION: You Should Have Seen Her

Photo by Jan Krnc from Pexels

‘You have to go out with me,’ I told her, ‘because I can’t stop thinking about us.’ 

We’d stayed in the middle of the oval after PE, my friends watching from beside the eucalyptus trees. I reeked of grass from tackling like a pro, but she smelt like vanilla Lip Smacker. She told me it was never going to happen, then I said, ‘but you and me will go together realgood.’ You should have seen her laugh. She crinkled her nose then tried to hide her smile. I swelled inside. A curl of hair hung near her freckles, curved down around her mouth, and I remember thinking how bad I wanted to taste vanilla. She must’ve read my mind—she kissed me. My friends wolf-whistled and yelled, ‘Nice one, Mark!’ She pulled away, her cheeks pink like her lips. 

You should have seen her.

In English, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. I watched some prick beside her draw a pink heart on the back of her hand, then I watched her smile coy. I piffed a ball of paper at his head and she laughed so loud the teacher stopped mid-sentence. I’d have killed the guy then and there if I hadn’t been made to read aloud. But as I did, she stared right at me, biting her lip to stop her smile as though Shakespeare’s loved-up words were mine. I’d write some of those words for her one day. She was my girl and she always would be—and I made sure everyone knew, holding her close, parading her through the halls. 

You should have seen her.

Then she turned seventeen and we celebrated at the drive-ins, just us. But I couldn’t concentrate on the film, I was too distracted by her vanilla and the way she looked at me. I knew exactly what she was thinking, because when she thought about it she smiled dimples. I told her, ‘it won’t hurt a bit’ and pulled her in close, felt her heart hammer and pretended not to notice her hesitation in the flickering light of the film. You should have seen her face when I was inside. Surprise one moment, fist-biting the next. 

You should have seen her.

She’d only been at uni for two weeks but I couldn’t bear it anymore. I drove ten hours interstate and made it to her doorstep at dusk. The campus was a maze. As soon as I found her dorm, I knelt at the door. You should have seen her eyes, the way they burst open then teared. She cupped her mouth and stood in shock for so long my knee ached and her roommate asked if she was okay. But it was all worth it when she nodded. I hugged her tight and said, ‘I can’t ever let you leave again,’ and she couldn’t stop crying. 

You should have seen her.

On our wedding day she said I stank of stale beer, and she didn’t want to go through with it anymore. ‘It’s gone on long enough,’ she told me. You should have seen her in white, how virginal she looked, acting a bitch. I told her she’d let everyone down if she left. She’d disappoint her family again, like when she dropped out of uni. When I shouted, I remember my voice bouncing off the walls of the sacristy and my vision shaking like I was fever dreaming. This had all felt like the longest fucking nightmare. When I grabbed her wrist, my dad let himself through the door, shouting at me to get my arse outside. Next thing I knew, I had a wife. 

Dad, did you see her? Did you see how you and I looked the same?

When she gave birth to Noah, her face was sunburn red and she screamed at me louder than ever before. She did my head in, a hammer to my hangover. You should have seen her, how she complained and cried. I thought she was stronger than that. After Noah arrived at 3:53 in the AM I heard her say, ‘I’m your mum, I’ll keep you safe.’ But how could she keep him safe when she couldn’t stop sobbing? She held him all to herself his first day. That day she changed; I couldn’t recognise her.

Noah, did you see your mum? Did you see how pathetic she looked?

She calls me a cunt. It must be the hundredth time in the six months since Noah arrived. You should have seen her hiss that word, with her nose crinkled and top lip pulled up. Disgust all the way down to the greens of her eyes. She has the same look you make when you smell a sock to see if it’s dirty or when you find dog shit on your shoe. Her disgust shifts to anger and anger always makes her big.Fuck,I hate that. 

There’s a rush of blood in my ears, my vision goes black and I can’t remember my own name. Her eyes bulge. Her arms slacken and lips go blue. 

You should see how small I’ve made her.

You should have seen her. 

Lyss Morgan is a writer and mental health researcher from Melbourne. She is currently penning her first novel. Find her on Twitter @Lyss_Morgan_ 

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