Saturday 18 June 2022

'The Divergent Worlds of Ada Isherwood' by April Bradley

New Haven, 1994
Ada sits astride Ingram's slender hips and reads aloud from a book she holds at a safe distance over the bathtub's porcelain rim. Ingram makes love and cartography, charts voyages on the map of her skin with his fingertips and her words falter. Come with me, he says. But she isn't ready. She has plans, a postgrad year. Ingram stops mapping. I want us to be your plan. Give us a year, Ada. He rests a hand between her breasts, another on her hip. Ada drops the book. She rises and falls. She rises and falls, watches Ingram watching her, his pupils blown wide, taking in the light surrounding her. His hands hold her steady. A year. She agrees to a year.
New Haven, 1994
It seemed like a good idea to pack the boxes first, then tape them. That's what Ada tells Ingram from the middle of her living room. He will hold this image of her in his memory for years. She's wearing a flannel button-down over an old Radio Head t-shirt, tangled up in a thicket of cardboard and books, drumming a tape gun against her knee. Those old jeans she was wearing when they met in Narraganset inch down her hip cock-eyed and reveal skin he had loved all summer long. Time to go? She closes a box. Yeah, heading out to Lake Erie first. Come with me? —Go with you? No. No, I don't think so. I'm going to England, and then, well, you don't really want me anyway, love. You want this time, this dream—He wants her, but he doesn't tell her. When he looks back at Ada, his lips tingling from their last kiss, she's reading a book she's supposed to be packing away.

This is an edited extract from a longer episodic piece first published as “The Worlds of Ada Isherwood”, Kitty Wang’s American Gazette, Winter 2017.

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