i haven’t always been upfront with you, esp. when it comes to sex. sure, it’s totally natural, and so what’s there to be embarrassed about, right? well. if you haven’t already guessed, i prefer to keep some things private. or at the very least, just between me and the person i’m sleeping with. still, i set out to tell you the truth about chloë and me, and so and though i can’t say that i’m totally comfortable with what i’m about to tell you, i’m just going to come out and say it, just so you know.
so what now, then, huh?…
Morning Must-Do List (Day 365 at Painted Rock Creations)
- Wear impenetrable armor to prevent the How-In-The-World-Did-You-Get-This-Job-Managers (HITWDYGTJ-M) from detecting my actual flaws.
- Google what to wear to make walking, sitting, and walking away easier to do when you’re wearing a shield on your body and mind.
- Eat a protein bar (or several) like I am starving during the morning team meeting to stop myself from opening my mouth to say that any intelligent, forward-thinking person would see the HITWDYGTJ-M’s ideas to purchase cheap plastic rocks won’t work.
- Cancel my hair appointment so that my long strands will continue to hide my eyes that roll during meetings.
- Send an email to my boss (and cc myself) that gives him ideas that will work like hiring artists to create templates for new looks, if that’s what they want. But I must make sure he also knows that I, Abbey Bell-Watson, want to be credited for that idea (not your idea, Mickey. Jerk!) Even if it is just this one time.
I hate the sea. At school someone said there’s under-ocean canyons deeper than ten cathedrals, full of cold and starving things with mouths that can open wider than their own bodies and fins with glowing bits they use to seek you out. They just stay at the bottom, waiting for drowned things to sink. I can’t imagine going down, down, into the heavy darkness, and watching these little lights getting closer and closer, and knowing what’s behind them. I can’t think of that.
They won’t have missed the lantern in the shop. They’ve got loads of them, cheap things, only paper, with a thin card platform underneath holding a tea-candle. So I don’t feel too guilty about nicking it, even though Mr. and Mrs. Chang are really nice. Anyway, I think they’d understand, if they knew. If they knew why I took it, I mean, not just that I took it. They already know we’re being kicked out of the flat now Dad’s gone, and the money’s gone. I think that’s why Mr Chang gives me a tube of Smarties sometimes.…
My father used to drown family dogs in the lake on our property. When the dog would get too old, beyond its years of usefulness, he would take it on one last walk across the fields.
He was not a cruel or punitive man; when asked, my father would explain that the reason he did what he did was that “the old boy’s taking up space and don’t do nothin’ for us anymore” and “we only got so much and can’t afford to waste a thing” and “it’s better to put it out of its misery.”
“If we got a new puppy, what would it eat? Where would it sleep?” He’d say.
Rationale aside, I never slept well the night after a drowning.
Every drowning was the same, almost ritualistic. Looking the elderly animal in the eye, with one last pat on the head he’s say gruffly, “Thanks for everything. See you on the other side.” Then he’d straighten up, slide the cinder block looped around its neck into the lake, and watch as it dragged the aging dog downward. This method ensured a swift and definitive death, the dog unable to release even a whimper. In a moment the ripples on the lake would subside and only the rapidly decreasing bubbles would give any sign that something had happened.…
Mornings, Penelope awakes to an inexplicable pain in her thighs, as if her legs have been stretched in opposite directions. Nights, she is convinced the loneliness will swallow her, but, like the morning aches, the feeling fades when she rouses herself from bed.
On her mantle is a picture of one of her two children, a daughter, smiling reluctantly, face blotched with pimply youth. She keeps Jeanine encapsulated in her picture frame, frozen in time, seven years prior. Mitchell has earned nothing more than one small photo from high school graduation, tucked into her wallet.
Nighttime, her children are very real to her. She wonders if Mitchell, that rambunctious child always running, the winds stirring in his passage and blowing her taxes off the kitchen table, has finally settled down. She hopes that Jeanine’s amorphous boyfriend musters more enthusiasm and tenderness when the two are in private than when they are visiting.
By morning, they are memories to accompany other faded memories. Her children two stretch marks, pulled tight across her body, from the times she ripped herself open so that they could live. Her children two sets of blinking eyes on an ultrasound screen, full of roundness and hope. Her former husband a salary that temporarily supported them, until the first layoff.…