This morning, my ovaries grinned at each other, and to the count of One, Two, THREE let their egg roll like a bowling ball down fallopian chutes to drop in the doubled crotch of my underpants.
Wake up at 10 and it’s a massacre. Blood on the sheets, gluing my inner thighs together, all over hip hipbone where my left leg pinned him down. There is no such thing as an equal relationship. He wakes up and takes a shower. I strip the bed and bundle the sheets. It’s routine. But as I get the coffee out of the freezer, I wish that once, just once, he’d wash the fucking sheets for a change.
So I go to my underwear drawer and dig past the sexy lacies and stained Fruit of the Looms until I find my Glock.
BANG his brains on the shower tile.
BANG his heart (mostly) on the faucet.
And when the cops come to take my name I calmly hand the gun over (handle first safety on) and say:
‘Well, if it weren’t for me, our sheets would always be dirty.’
The truth is this isn’t what happens. It would make a good story if it did. I’m sure our fractured relationship would become the must-have in conversation filler. We’d move through social circles—first the tabloids, then the entertainments, and finally a half inch in something respectable. Maybe the Globe and Mail. Probably not though.
Maybe Jay Leno would reference it.
Is Jay Leno still on?
The truth is that I put on the coffee and get out the Sunlight. I bring the soiled sheets down to the second floor where we share 3 washers and 2 dryers with 50 other tenants. 3 + 2/50 or something like that but all you really get is that I’m waiting in line. I sit down and pick up the newspaper and flip to the obituaries. I’m looking for old family friends. Two years ago, it got too depressing for my parents. The number of chairs around the table at dinner parties was slowly pared down, until only 4 of the original 9 remained. It’s my only daughterly duty. If I spot one, I call my parents and deliver the news softly and sympathetically. Dead acquaintances have now become the standard with my parents. When I told them about the most recent empty chair, all my Mom said was: ‘That’s unfortunate.’
Some nice old man transfers his nice old man clothing to a dryer, and a washer is freed. My potential offspring are shoved into the washer, and again I ask myself:
Why is it always ME who washes the fucking sheets?
Back in the apartment, there’s the smell of coffee and mint toothpaste. I can hear him brushing his teeth in the washroom. He has to brush in downward strokes, starting from the gumline to the tip of the enamel. A few months ago he poked a semi-circle of orange that separated the top of his canine from his gums. It hurt, so he set up an appointment with the dentist who told him to stop poking his teeth. Apparently, the overzealous brushing of his youth lead to a receding gumline. His hairline is sure to follow. Now his morning ritual has been expanded to include an extra 4 minutes of cautious toothbrushing.
In those 4 minutes, I could:
-brush my hair
-wash my face and,
-brush my teeth.
I start making breakfast. Eggs sunny-side up, rye toast, ketchup, and coffee’s almost ready. The reek of mint toothpaste overwhelms the smell of fresh coffee, announcing his entrance.
“Mom called again.”
We’ve hardly been dating a year.
It took me a solid 26 to finally accept and understand the relationship between a mother and a child. 4 years of therapy, 3 different therapists. An inconsistent adolescence: my 16th year spend at an aunt’s house. Years of disapproval, misunderstanding, all recorded in embittered email correspondence and telephone conversations. Once, a lawyer was even involved. Yet somehow, a few hugs and heartfelt interactions later, he’s accepted her into his life.
What a phony bastard.
“Oh yeah? What about this time?”
“We’ve been invited to dinner on the seventeenth. I said we’d come.”
“Don’t we have that thing at Stonefield’s?”
“That’s at 3. We can go for a few hours, a couple of drinks. We can make it to your parents if we leave early. Say you’re feeling sick or something.”
What a Fucking. Phony. Bastard.
“Okay. Sound good.”
“Are you sure? We can cancel if you like.”
“I said it sounds good.”
“You sound frustrated.”
The phone ringing interrupts any insightful conversation we may have begun. He picks it up—my hands are full of frying pan.
‘Hello? Yes. Right. Ok. I’ll tell her.’ Click.
‘What is it?’
‘Oh, that was your sister’s husband. Terrible news. She’s in the hospital.’
‘Coma. Brain damage. Horrible accident, she was hit by a transport truck while biking on the highway. I always told her to wear a helmet….’
‘YOU CALLOUS UNFEELING FUCKHEAD. I NEVER LOVED YOU. SHIT. FUCK. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.’
And then I take the frying pan and BONG CRACK he’s down. The ringing of the cast iron against bone fills our apartment, but it’s calming instead of unnerving. Like those meditation balls that rich hip business people use to roll around in their palms while laying employees off.
Before the blood begins to congeal, I’ve figured out a plan. Kind of. Blow out the pilot light, leave the gas on. All 4 burners.
I run to our (well, now it’s my) room, and feel under the mattress. Past the back-issues of Barely Legal, and stuck conveniently in between the splayed legs of a Big Bitches centerfold, I find a stack of fifties. I grab my banjo from the closet and I’m outta here. One last look around, light a match and BOOM. I run up and down the hallway banging on doors and screaming FIRE like I’m surprised. I’m a good person. These people have insurance. Besides, it’s only stuff.
I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now.
That’s a lie.
That’s not even an imaginative lie. Not even remotely true.
I don’t have a sister, and we keep our porn in a drawer under the coffee table.
“Hello? Yes, she’s here. Is that Margaret? Hey Marge! Good, good. Yeah, she’s just making breakfast. Just a sec, I’ll pass her over.”
He whispers ‘Margie’ to me was he trades the phone for the frying pan.
Margie thinks he’s brilliant. She thinks we’re ‘really truly meant for each other’, which means she wants to fuck him.
Margie is really boring. I can’t even register what she says. Margie is one of those women to whom I make small noises of encouragement every few minutes, all the while having intense sexual fantasies about men who are no longer in my life. Or, I make shopping lists.
Margarine. Peanut butter. “Mmmmhmmm.” S.O.S. pads. Rat poison. Lettuce mix. “Really?” Mangoes. “Margie?” I interrupt. “But I thought he really needed-yeah?”
“Margie? Can I end our friendship? I mean, why are friends? Think about this, really. Because I can’t come up with a reason. All we do is fill in time. When was the last time you actually enjoyed my company. And not just tolerated, but enjoyed? And I know you’re not dumb, and that you have real, consequential problems. But somehow, I can’t see myself ever being interested in listening to them. Do you think that spending an hour of your life listening to me bitch and moan about whatever minor inconvenience isn’t a wasted hour? An hour that could be spent on something more productive? Can you play the banjo? I can’t, but I bet in all those saved hours, I could teach myself. Doesn’t it concern you that, by the end, we’ll probably have filled up at least a year of our lives feigning interest?”
‘Hmmm. I guess…I’d never really thought of it before? You’re right, though. We should have ended this months ago! Well, have a pleasant morning.’
“…Are you serious? Is this some kind of joke?”
“No. I just don’t really understand our friendship, I guess.”
“Oh god. Are you going to that weird minimalist therapist again? The one who got you to throw away all your old comic books? That guy was so weird. You know, I think Phyllis might be seeing him these days. She’s got that thing with dogs, and”
Kleenex. One of those loofah things. Bananas.
At least I tried. A few minutes later, I’m off the phone with plans for Friday.
In my absence, he’s finished cooking breakfast. Yellow spheres of yolk covered in a thin membrane of snot. He never cooks the eggs long enough. I hope I die of salmonella.
We stopped making small-talk over breakfast a while ago. I stare at the salt shaker; he stares at me. There isn’t even a newspaper I can pretend to be interested in while he watches my every movement with a hawklike curiosity, as if by memorizing the precise way in which I cut my toast into diamonds will somehow lend insight to my innermost thoughts and desires. Which, at this moment, is the theme song from the Young Ones.
“Sarah, can we talk about”
But a high-pitched squeal steals my attention. At first, kind of faint, in the background. I almost mistake it for tinnitus. It grows louder and the whole apartment, the whole building, fills with its scream.
It gets louder and lower, dropping in pitch. The table begins to shake as its stability is overcome by the baritone rumble. The salt shaker that I’d spent so much time analyzing finally makes a concrete decision to jump overboard. My eggs, so well lubricated by their uncooked whites, slide off the plate to join the saltshaker’s remains. I look over to see that he’s caught in the same awe that I am. Mouth half open, lower lip slightly protruding, furrowed brows. What the fuck?
The windows break all over the place. I can’t let go of the chair. Pieces of plaster and drywall fall in chunks, and soon I can feel a tiny trickle of blood pooling into the indentation created by my collarbone. We aren’t looking at each other. It fact, we aren’t looking at anything. Everything has lost its dimensions. It’s like looking at the flat face of a TV screen. I can see him, and I can see our quickly disintegrating apartment, but I couldn’t touch anything if I wanted to. I couldn’t reach out and hold his hand. I couldn’t run around and try to save our expensive china and glasswear, or hide under the bed, or call my mom and tell her that everything is okay I checked the obits today and no-one important died. All I can do is watch.
When an airplane crashes, everything is confused.
The difference between the speed of sound and the speed of light explains why you hear a plane behind you that you see in front of you. The distance is too great for cohesion between sound and sight. Distance isn’t just theoretical, it matters. The planets we’re observing now have probably all imploded or exploded, so we are really making observations on the past. Our observations govern the theories that make up the base of our realities. We are time travelers, out of necessity.
When an airplane crashes, there are two overlapping sounds: the sound from a few seconds ago catching up to the sound in the present. Most people don’t notice the former, but unconsciously, it’s registered. They unintentionally become aware that they are a part of a minority who have experienced what’s been epitomized and theorized by science and literature for centuries.
This miniscule percentage of the population.
However, it doesn’t really matter, because if you’re close enough to experience it, you’re already dead.