I’ve never classified myself as a neurotic, though sometimes I suspect that my current lover, a twenty-four year old assistant editor at an internationally recognized architectural magazine, with her two degrees and a doctoral on the way, stringy orange hair glistening like carrot shavings and freckly dabs of rust peppering her face and collecting like rain in a gutter on her nose, I suspect that her broad shoulders, not quite a lineman’s but pretty damn close, sitting disproportionately atop a slender applecore waist, is really the product of the displacement of my insurmountable, incestuous Oedipal longings for my mother who, incidentally, in addition to having red hair and broad shoulders, was the first female body I ever saw naked.
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My mother’s name was Polly-Anne Murphy. Her name is Sandy Blumen. Blumen means ‘flowers’ in German; I looked it up.
Sometimes I wonder.
Sandy is late for work. She is rushing around the house, stopping occasionally to snatch some book off of a table or a counter and adding it to the growing load of papers and things accumulating against her chest.
‘Have you seen the fucking manuscripts, the one’s that I was working on last night?’ she asks me, finally stopping her search and scanning the room in bewilderment. I shrug my shoulders.
‘No,’ I say softly, ‘but I love you.’
In my mind the words seemed suave, romantic, bordering on the charming side of smarmy. She shakes her head disdainfully, openly displaying her annoyance, and resumes her hunt for the manuscripts that seem to have dematerialized.
Sometimes I wonder why important things disappear. My favorite pair of socks disappeared last month. Sandy told me that I needed a new pair anyway, that a hole was forming in the toe of the right sock, and suggested that if I was so heartbroken that I could always buy pair from the same brand, with similar shape and size. I shook my head and explained that it isn’t the same. It’s strange, but it is the particulars that give me the most satisfaction. The particulars give things order. My big toe needs air, I told her; my heel needs to glide across the carpet, I need to feel dust bunnies tickling my skin between fraying threads; I need my socks to smell a certain way, to feel a certain way. She called me stupid and threw a shoe at me.
‘How about giving me a fucking hand?’ she calls from the other room. I nod my head emphatically, though I am well aware that she is in the other room and can’t see me. It feels right just the same.
I lower myself onto all fours and begin looking under tables and chairs, pressing the side of my face flat against the carpet’s bristles. They smell like a combination of cigarette fumes and Lemon Tide. I close my eyes and breathe in a lung full. Sandy walks in with the manuscript.
‘I found it on your – Jesus, what the fuck are you doing?’
‘I’m smelling the carpet,’ I replied honestly. ‘The smell reminds me of the pair of socks I lost awhile back.’
‘The socks? Those dingy things? Listen, I’ll buy you a new fucking pair. Right now I need you to come lock the door after me. The keys are in my purse under a mountain of crap, and if I keep screwing around I’m going to be late. Hey – space case, can you hear me?’
I can hear her, vaguely, but the carpet smells so beautiful that I forget to respond.
‘Oh fuck, forget it. I’m leaving. You are impossible. Just make sure to lock the door behind me, okay?’ I hear her heels stamping across the tile in front of our front door. I hear the screen door creak open and slam shut. The crash makes me flinch.
Impossible. I am impossible. I wonder what that means. Impossible.
I walk to window overlooking our driveway and watch as she pulls away. Her tires are spinning at an unhealthy number of revolutions as they try to grip the damp snow. Eventually they grab hold of something and she pulls away. I lock the door and turn to walk away.
‘Drive safely,’ I whisper, as if she can somehow hear me. As I walk away, I realize that I forgot to graze my fingertips across the blank part of the wall just under a picture from our wedding. The words seem meaningless without the action, and I run back and swing open the door.
‘Drive safely!’ I yell into winter. I yell it twice, just to be safe. I rush back inside, slide my fingers against the wall, but it feel awkward. Different. I repeat these steps two more times, but each time the wall seems cold and foreign and alien. Today is different. How can today be different? I always touch the wall when I tell her to drive safely. Always. Today is different…
She’s going to die.
She’s going to die.
She’s going to die.
I lock myself in the washroom, my back pressing against the bowl of the toilet. I close my eyes and think about her car skidding into a pole, wrapping around it like a rubber band around a big fat hair thumb. I think about a large semi-truck, diesel powered and driven by a vengeful blonde person of indistinguishable gender, overweight and listening to loud country music, slamming into the side of her tiny Ford Focus, which is in month seven of a four year lease, crumpling it like an empty aluminum can. Only it’s not empty – Sandy is inside of it, and she crumples too. I think about the sky falling and crushing her, fusing her body and the metal roof together like an ice cream sandwich. I like ice cream sandwiches, but they seem so ugly when they are made of steel and blood and my wife.
I need Sandy. I need holes with socks in them. I need sandwiches made of ice cream. I need Lemon Tide carpets. I need my mother.
Don’t all leave me at once.
I’m impossible, those were her last words.
"Imperious, choleric, irascible, extreme in everything, with a dissolute imagination the like of which has never been seen... there you have me in a nutshell, and kill me again or take me as I am, for I shall not change."
From his Last Will & Testament, Marquis de Sade