Parker and Barrow

Parker wears green shirts with long sleeves. She pulls the sleeves down over her hands and cuts holes for her thumbs. Every time Barrow sees her he is reminded of an old song. Parker finds this amusing. So she hums the melody late at night when Barrow's trying to sleep, and she sings the words in the shower in her off-key voice. Barrow finds it endearing but he admits that sometimes he wants to smack her in her smart mouth. He assumes it's because he's in love.

Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, when Barrow can't sleep and Parker is slumbering away peacefully, he stands near the window staring out, lazily smoking a cigarette. And Barrow can her hear her humming in her sleep, and he sings the song quietly under his breath. Outside his window, the sun slowly starts to rise, and Barrow stubs out his cigarette on the windowsill. He pushes off the wall and walks to the dresser.

Parker rustles the sheets as she stirs and stretches and even as she yawns she is still humming. Barrow can feel the grain of the wood beneath his hands as he pulls the top drawer open. Through the open window a warm breeze blows, lifting the curtains so they obscure Barrow's view of the bed in the dresser mirror. He can hear her singing still and when the breeze ceases Barrow is still facing the mirror, staring at his own reflection, and he's holding Parker's necklace in his hands. She took it off every night and put it in the top drawer, beside his money clip.

Barrow doesn't want to look at the bed behind him, because he doesn't see the point. So naturally he looks. Just a quick glance, and of course the bed is empty. He isn't surprised to find her gone, but he's surprised that it still hurts just as much as that morning. Barrow sighs. He crosses to the bed, slipping the necklace into his trousers pocket, and he pulls the sheets up. The shower is running in the adjoining bath. Barrow smiles and leaves the room, closing the door behind him quietly. In the bathroom, the shower is off, there is no residual steam fogging up either the window or the mirror above the vanity, and the tub is bone dry. Parker hasn't been in that little room for quite a long time. Barrow knows that. But it's nice to imagine sometimes. He leans against the bedroom door closing his eyes and he murmurs her favorite line, even if she doesn't hear it.

~Alas, my love, you do me wrong, To cast me off so discourteously

Today Barrow is going to the pawn shop. He's selling his money clip, along with Parker's necklace. He's going to use the profit to buy her headstone. He doesn't need to, he can afford to buy Parker her own damn cemetery, but he knows she would have preferred this. She was always a little morbidly romantic in that respect. So he sells the pieces and he purchases the stone that reminds him most of her. When the man asks for her dates of birth and death, Barrow declines to answer. Instead he asks for something simpler, something Parker would've appreciated. The man asks for a name and Barrow replies appropriately.

When he leaves the pawn shop a strong autumn wind rushes down the street and he can't help but consider that maybe she's approving of his actions. The thought makes him smile for the second time that day, which is more than Barrow has smiled in as many months. Two weeks later when he's standing at Parker's grave site, holding little Bonnie's hand, he smiles once again. That's three times so far, and it gets easier each time. Bonnie looks up at her father adoringly, with big dark eyes that look just like her mothers. Barrow reads the inscription on the headstone, recalling fondly Parker's drunken excursion from her father's house late one summer night to the fire stairs outside of Barrow's old apartment, the sound of her caterwauling the old tune waking up his neighbors and forcing Barrow to either invite her in or let her be arrested. He's speaking aloud before he realizes it, but Bonnie doesn't seem to mind.

~Greensleeves was all my joy, Greensleeves was my delight, Greensleeves was my heart of gold, And who but…

And Barrow trails off, suddenly misty eyed. Bonnie squeezes her fathers hand and lets him stand a moment longer at her mother's grave before gently pulling him along to the pathway. Her little patent shoes click against the brick road as they manage to find the crunchiest leaves. Under his breath Barrow whispers the last line of the song, the only name on Parker's headstone.

~ My Lady Greensleeves

As they leave the cemetery, Bonnie is singing the familiar song, and Barrow can hear somebody humming the melody. He thinks of Parker again and he hopes he always will.