Edward Scissorhands Takes Up Scrapbooking by Jennifer Fliss

photo of gargoyle in Paris

“Paris 7-05” (image via Flickr user raelb)

Edward Scissorhands has taken up scrapbooking. He lives in Amagansett and meets, three times a week, with the six other ladies that form a scrapbook circle. After the city-folk have gone, the group meets at Lorraine’s house for tea and sometimes something stronger. This early fall day, the group sits on Lorraine’s porch as they measure, cut, paste, and reminisce.

Lorraine admires Edward’s dexterity despite the onset of rust. Aging does that, says Edward Scissorhands, who has long gotten over childhood speech impediments that hindered him when he was young. Lorraine will often run her own old wispy hands along Edward’s blades. She has been a widow for twenty-three years. Her Jack could julienne a carrot in three seconds flat. He would have liked Edward.

Edward Scissorhands lives in the guest house behind Marjorie’s cottage. The cottage has seven bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. Indoor and outdoor pool. A sauna, which Edward is allowed to use and does – often. Marjorie was the one who invited him into their craft circle. He was grateful. At the time, few people trusted a man with sharp hands. In fact, most probably still don’t.

 

Edward is working on a scrapbook of a recent trip to Europe. He went with several members of the scrapbooking circle as well as Eleanor Shipley, the librarian. They chartered a bus that took them to seven countries, England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Andorra.

Edward has collected the following from the trip: twenty-three photos; two boarding passes; two stolen menus; twelve museum tickets; eight postcards; one bookmark; four pressed flowers; a sliver of wood from their tree in Paris; a flyer for a lost dog in Lyon; three postage stamps; a five euro note; a seating chart of the Vienna Opera House; on hotel stationery, in Lorraine’s sloppy handwriting, a line from a poem she saw on a Parisian wall: Un bateau frêle comme un papillon de mai; and two tickets to Don Giovanni, one ripped and one unused. Beside that pile, Edward has a shoebox with a selection of stickers, colored pens, tape, ribbon, and an array of card stock.

Look, Big Ben. A selfie taken with a stoic guard. Parliament. A group photo on the train to Paris taken by a gracious porter. Statue of Napoleon. Lorraine, amidst a flurry of cherry blossoms in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Some monkeys in Granada. Edward alone in the middle of Las Ramblas. Here, a photo of Lorraine and Edward in front of the Eiffel Tower. She is pretending to take a bite out of a baguette. Edward doesn’t smile in photos. But he was happy. He doesn’t really smile much ever, in fact, photo or no.

A run of the glue stick over the back of the photo and onto the page it goes. He presses puffy stickers of bread products into the page. With his teeth he removes the cap of a gel pen. In fine cursive he writes Ooh La La.

Edward enjoys scrapbooking. It allows for contemplation of the activities in which he partakes. It’s almost like having the experience a second time. As he lays down more puffy brioches, he can smell the boulangeries – the yeast, the flour, the early morning pungency of the Seine. Bread is so much more romantic than flowers.

On their last day in Paris, Edward presented Lorraine with a cone of chouquettes, small puffs of airy bread coated in coarse sugar. As she ate, sugar pearls dotted the space between her upper lip and her nose. He motioned to her. You have a little something… She couldn’t get it all and Edward leaned in to brush it away.

Despite the years of practice and despite his comfort and the comfort of others, when Edward Scissorhands slips and draws blood, it is always alarming. It is like he becomes a stranger all over again. Lorraine pressed her hand into her lip and ran off to the bathroom.

Edward’s heart cleaved with the wound. After that, he sat in the back row of the bus, next to the tiny bathroom. The ladies all said hello when they came to relieve themselves, invited him to come up front, but Edward preferred to keep some distance after the accident.

After Paris, they moved on: Versailles, Normandy, Lyon. Into Italy: Milan, Rome. In a Venetian canal, after he watched Lorraine board a gondola by herself, he stared into the water as his reflection grew murky and the ashy clouds overhead let loose a shout of thunder and explosive tears. Edward too was crying, but the rain covered it all up by the time he returned to the bus.

In his scrapbook, he uses teal tape to attach a ticket from the Doges’ Palace. He places the tape at jaunty angles to express that he is lighthearted about that day in Venice when it rained.

In a beer hall in Munich, Edward spilled an entire pitcher on himself and the librarian. He was not drunk, but he feigned a buzz and retreated to his hotel room. It was hours before the ladies returned. He could hear them in the next room shouting Proust over and over and over again. It was Lorraine that said enough already, you morons. It’s prost, not Proust.

Edward has cut-outs of mini beer steins, which do not have a sticky back, so he has to use glue to stick them onto the next page of his book. This is the delicate work of a scrapbooker; some of the details are so small, so miniscule, that even the finest fingers struggle with placement.

Edward stands. “Just need a break,” he says. After sitting for so long and concentrating on such meticulous work, he needs to stretch. The ladies keep their eyes down: snipping, pasting, flipping through photos.

Edward steps off the porch. Kicking up auburn fall leaves, he watches as they settle back into piles. Luxury cars pass by far too fast; too close to the sidewalk, tires slap into the divots where dirty puddles collect. Edward is careful to step aside when cars draw near. But a Hummer, too wide for the road anyway, sends up a deluge of water. Soaked, Edward curses the driver, shakes out his sleeves, and turns around. He had walked only two blocks, but the tiny heads of the craft circle look impossibly far away.

The women are not gossiping in his absence. They bob and nod their heads to the cadence of their artwork. Only Edward’s seat is empty. And, he notices, Lorraine’s. Back through the dead leaf corridor, Edward ascends the rickety stairs. His hair, already lank and weepy is dripping. His slip-on black and white check sneakers, bought at the insistence of the teenager in the town’s only shoe store, saturated. His feet squeak on the deck. He can’t risk getting his memorabilia wet. It’d ruin the whole book. The whole story.

But then a towel around his shoulders. A monogram indecipherable in its script brushes his cheek. Lorraine begins to rub the towel against his shoulder blades.

“That jerk,” she whispers into his ear. “He lives over on Georgica. Anyway, can’t send you home like that. Come on in. We’ll get you into something dry.”

Edward Scissorhands never gets further than Munich. Never returns to his teeny tiny beer steins. The scrapbook ends there.

Jennifer Fliss is a Seattle-based fiction and essay writer. Her work has appeared in PANKFiction Southeast, The Rumpus, Narratively, Pacifica Literary Review, Necessary Fiction, Hippocampus, and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter at @Writesforlife or via her website, www.jenniferflisscreative.com