?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Afters

Title: Afters
Fandom: A Streetcar Named Desire. This movie gave me issues. I admire it greatly, but I was also seriously annoyed by Vivian Leigh, which made it difficult for me to be much touched by the character. Still, the film contains some of the greatest performances in American film history, it's true. So if you haven't seen it, you should. At least once. And then go watch On The Waterfront.
Rating: G
Characters/Pairing: Stella, Stanley, an older Baby Kowalski
Disclaimer: I don't own Streetcar. Sometimes I don't even like Streetcar.
Summary: Stella sees him coming, but there's nothing she can do except walk as though towards a brick wall. Maybe she can get through. If Stanley the brick wall will stand aside and let her pass.


"I have eyes like those of a dead pig." -Marlon Brando




Afters



Stanley Kowalski comes down the sidewalk with two black eyes, a loose front tooth, and a pocketful of purpose. He’s made the tour of barrooms and saloons and is retiring early after an unexpected fight. All fights are unexpected but few are unwelcome. He pauses now and then to spit a little blood into the gutter.

Stella sees him coming. Short of turning and racing the other way, alarming her fellow pedestrians, there is little she can do. So she takes a harder grip on Lee’s hand, causing him to squawk momentarily in distress at the pressure, and plows forward. She walks as though towards a brick wall that she has only the slightest hope of getting through; only if a doorway opens up, only if someone crashes through before her. Only if Stanley the brick wall will step aside and let her pass unnoticed.

A foreign, forlorn hope. Stanley embraces the sidewalk, pulls his purposes out of his pocket one by one and distributes them liberally on the ground. He stumbles slightly, twists his shoulders and looks back the way he’s come, and when he turns around again it’s to see Stella, pressed up against the brick buildings, dodging.

This is how he greets her, plants his feet on the sidewalk for a second then takes three quick steps till he’s in front of her and says, “Stella.”

And when she says nothing he says, almost shy, “Hi there, Stella.”

And when she looks up at him and still says nothing he looks discomfited and shoves his hands in his pockets and brings his eyebrows together over his nose and says, “Well arencha gonna say something?”

Stella straightens her back. “You’d better leave us be, Stanley.”

Oddly enough this seems to relax him; maybe just the sound of her voice. Her voice, which he hasn’t heard in almost five years. He loosens up a little, unslouches. “Well, I’m glad to see you, Stella.” He pauses, and expects something obviously. She doesn’t give it. “Aren’t— aren’tcha— ”

“No,” she says.

“Arent’cha glad to see me? C’mon, Stella.”

“What are you doing out here?” Her voice is as steely as she can make it. “Why are you here?”

“Why do you think I came out here? Not for the vacation, I can tell you that, listen, Stella, this isn’t something you can hide from forever, you know. You think you can hide from me forever?”

“No,” she says, closing her eyes a little. “Just long enough.”

He folds his arms and watches her for a moment. “Alright,” he says, as though he’s won a major victory and is accepting it gracefully. There will be no cheering, no rioting in the streets, and he’s already done the drinking and carousing. He nudges with a knuckle at one darkening eye. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you left, Stella. I didn’t want for you to leave.”

Her eyes open again and she is angry still, maybe more angry, maybe getting angrier by the second.

“What is it that you want?” she snaps out.

He wants her to come back and take care of him, and she waits for him to say it. His eyes are still, the lids drooping, and he twists his mouth to one side as though he’s considering how to say it; but she can’t remember the last time he considered his words as though they mattered. She can’t remember the last time for a lot of things, it has been nearly five years.

“I want to see my son,” he says.

Stella catches at her breath before it can escape. She takes a step back but Stanley looks determined now, and doesn’t move; just stands implacable. A brick wall.

There’s a tug on her hand and she steps, just a half-step, to one side, and Stanley looks down on his son, whose presence he had not even noticed till now. He’s a blond little boy, with a small eager smile which he is not showing now. The intensity and worry of his mother, the intensity and the brawn and the dead eyes of this strange man in front of him are catching like a cold. He twiddles his fingers in his mother’s hand, takes a firmer grip.

Stanley squats in front of him, bringing himself to the little boy’s level. Father and son stare at each other for a moment, before Stanley collects himself and smiles.

“Hey there,” he says; reaches one hand out tentatively as though he expects the boy to flinch. The boy has not been brought up to be afraid, however, and stands stoic and still, staring wide eyed at this stranger. “I’m your daddy, kid. Did you know that? I’m your father.”

This stranger who is his father. It makes not much of a difference.

Stanley lays a hand on the boy’s shoulder, grips at the shirt sleeve lightly. For a moment father and mother hold on to opposite sides of the boy, as though they will tear him in two according to Solomon’s wisdom, and each have part for their own. But he keeps his hand still. He looks up at Stella.

“What’s his name?” he says.

“Lee,” says Stella.

“Oh.” A slight frown, the eyebrows pull down over the still eyes. The deliberate mouth pulls down. “I thought I remembered we were gonna call him Stanley.”

“Lee,” says Stella, firmly. “His name is Lee.”

Stanley appears to put this aside for the moment. He returns to his son and looks him over slowly, inch by inch. The boy returns the favor, examines in minute detail this stranger who is his father and it makes no difference, looks him over with eyes as blue as his mother’s, as his long-ago aunt’s.

Stanley says, “Look at this, sonny.” He puts a finger up to his mouth and bares his teeth, wiggles the loose one at his son as though it’s a parlor trick. Some people play cards, some people do magic, Stanley Kowalski has infrequent trips to the dentist and makes enemies quickly. Lee stares at him and then as if by magic, the magic that his father can’t do, a smile appears. His small teeth bared, he points to a gap in them. Look, he says silently, I already lost what you still have.

Stanley grins back at him and when he straightens up the grin is still in full force and Stella clutches behind her at the brick. That grin was always an impossibility, an impracticality, something quite apart from Stanley himself, as though he couldn’t help it but only turned it loose on special occasions. It was a fluke. It still is a fluke, and the way it makes her feel is a fluke; the way she felt when he cried for her and begged forgiveness without saying he was sorry.

“He doesn’t look much like me, does he,” he says. Then, a bit ruefully, “Good lookin’ kid.”

“His mouth is like yours,” says Stella, with unexpected kindness.

“His chin,” says Stanley, rubbing at his own.

“His smile.”

He looks at her again and she knows it’s coming, he’s about to ask, it’s stupid but he will ask anyway. It’s ridiculous, a waste of time, and breath, and words. His impractical mouth will beg her but his eyes above the shiners will be stoic and dead until he manages to make them weep.

“No, Stanley,” she says.

She is right; she knows him well. His eyes do not beg, show nothing; they are as dead. It’s his mouth that twists, beseeches, and for a moment he looks as though he might cry, like a little boy, there on the sidewalk denied what he asked for. He looks as young as his son for a brief moment and she feels the pull.

“No, Stanley, no,” she says, even though he’s not asking any more, she’s still rejecting, denying, telling him, but mostly telling herself. No, Stella, no.

She will leave him here on the sidewalk in a town that he is unfamiliar with. Let him get his kicks where he could, let him go to his hotel and sleep it off, let the bruises dissipate back into the bloodstream. Let Stanley dissipate back into the past. She will walk away.

She says, "Don't eat any apples."

The look of confusion fades slowly into a look of dawning comprehension, and before he can change tack and smile again she moves.

She walks quickly, heels clicking staccato on the icy sidewalk. At her side Lee walks quickly too, to keep up with her, to get away, as though he knows what they’re escaping from. Little Lee; Stanlee; Little Stanley. Named for his father but called something, anything else, whatever protection she could offer him. True he had his father’s chin, and the blinding impracticality of his smile. But his eyes will never be dead, like Stanley’s; if she can promise him nothing else, she swears this.

They hurry on. Behind them she can feel Stanley staring after her, gone in his eyes but maybe, all the sweet impracticality of his mouth, twisting, moving, saying her name. But it is silent.

It’s silent, and she turns the corner.

And after that, there is nothing.

And after that, there is still nothing.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
irisbleufic
Jul. 19th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
Icy and understated. I like it :)
randombattlecry
Jul. 20th, 2009 05:06 am (UTC)
"Understated" was pretty much exactly what I was going for. Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you liked it!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

obscurity_knox
itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow-polka-dot fandoms

Latest Month

September 2009
S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   

Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow