No big movements
I’m at the supermarket when I see a sticker in the alcohol aisle – “Say yes to everything”. Underneath the inspirational text: a rum logo, silhouetted palm tree on an island. By the time I get to the checkout counter with a bottle of rum, I forget about it. But then the crazy lady from my street puts her hands together and asks, “Can you buy me coffee and sugar?”
She looks like a wet terrier and the woman cashier stares at me with sadistic anticipation. Say yes.
I nod slowly. A few people stand in line. They give me a nervous appreciation smile, tight lips stretched towards their ears. My kind doesn’t usually help others, they’re thinking. Though one of them is smiling up to his black teeth.
He’s on the phone. “Yes mi amor, pappy will come for you soon, pappy loves you so much.” He puts back his two-for-one six packs. “My son is coming. His mama wouldn’t let him but he showed her, my boy.”
The crazy lady claps.
The cashier returns with the most expensive coffee and sugar on the shelf. How small her life must be. The crazy lady doesn’t seem to be impressed either. She grabs the bag and runs off.
The man’s phone rings. He listens for a while, then gripes, covering his mouth: “But why the police, Maria? Hello? Hello?” He bangs the mobile on his forehead.
The customer behind him places her minced meat on the conveyor belt. “You’re done, right?” she says.
The man retrieves his two six packs, adding a third. “What are you looking at, you fat cunt?” I’m looking at his black teeth and the deeper black hole within him. I know about those shades of black. But he wasn’t asking a yes/no question, so I take my rum and go home.
Skunk, my rabbit, greets me kicking his heels up. He follows me to the tiny kitchen. Strawberry for him, snifter glass for me. My twin sister bought Skunk after my unsuccessful surgery last year – “They make good companions and you don’t have to take them outside.” She’s hot, thin as an anorectic vegan on a candida diet.
I thought it’d be cruel to keep him caged, so I let him wander around and poop everywhere. I’ve made my peace with the smell. My sister won’t be as diplomatic, but I advocated on Skunk’s behalf in my suicide letter to her.
As I finish my rum, the phone beeps. Even before I get up I know it’s my lover. It’s been five days since we last met. His sexual metabolism is predictable. We message each other like an old married couple or an uninspired new one – with a single question mark.
An hour later, on my sagging mattress, he slips a finger up my ass and whispers: “Do you want to?” I say yes.
“Wait, why?” He lifts himself up, leaning on his elbows.
“Today I say yes to everything.”
“I’ll be gentle.” The next five minutes are gently painful, but I’m on a yes streak.
It’s the early afternoon. I don’t have to wait much longer. We lie in bed, curled up like fetuses. Back to back. Maybe he’s a twin too, I never asked. Maybe his twin is the ugly fat one. Skunk falls asleep on my pillow, above my head. Like a silly white toupée. I close my eyes.
When I wake up it’s already cold dusk light. Lover and rabbit are still dreaming. I leave them a note and the letter for my sister, and close the door quietly.
There’s a bus stop outside my house. I look at the pole and then at my legs. In their general direction, that is. They’re there somewhere. I decide to walk three blocks — with a certain duck grace — to visit Raquel in the mental institution.
When I arrive, I find her in the common area. Playing with her hemp rope.
“How are you?” I ask.
“The rope’s too short.” She makes a circle, slides the end under it, threads it through the loop and pulls hard. “I can do a slip knot, but not a hangman’s noose.” She unties it.
“That’s a shame.”
We stay quiet while she reties the same knot. “Who are you again?” She explores my face. I thought it’d be cruel to keep her caged, but that’s not up to me anymore.
“I’m your mom.”
She laughs, a beautiful manic fifteen-year-old laugh. “That’s very true.” She fiddles with her rope. “But so what?”
“Exactly.” I get up. “So what.”
When I just got Skunk, my slender sister told me to be calm around him. No big movements. They are faint-hearted creatures, easily stressed. They can even die of shock. My sister, the rabbit slayer, was wrong about this fuzzy tough one.
“Tomorrow you’re getting out of here. You’re gonna get a rabbit.” I touch Raquel’s face. “His name is Skunk, and he loves big movements.”
(Previous: Appearances by Sara Crowley)
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Image: Marianne Lindberg De Geer, A Study in Unhuman Sexual Expectations, photographed by Bengt Oberger