Friday, 16 September 2011

let them eat fruitcake: white and black

This is another story from yesterday's assignment in Ms. Graham's class. We were to write a piece about a character coming home to the place he/she has shared with a recently deceased person. We were required to explore the connection of the characters with the objects and the space and the relationship of the two characters.


I couldn’t tell how many times the song had been playing. I had put it on auto repeat and I’d lost count ever since the first cycle was done. Whenever I felt I’d cried my last tears or used my energy to excrete them, the song started again and my tears and strength to cry would replenish. I was sitting at the edge of my bed, pressing down my soles and toes against the old carpet that came with the apartment, staring at the little cushion in front of me.

She was just there, I thought. I took my right hand from on top of my left kneecap and let the palm absentmindedly sweep over the blanket, then the sheets. She was just here. I placed my right hand on my left chest, as if doing so would numb down the pain that was pulsing inches beneath the surface.

“You’re not thinking of moving out again, are you?” Roger had asked when I was on the phone with him a few hours ago right after the accident. I was hysterical, so he took my ominous silence as a reply to his question. “Honey, don’t. You always do this every time something bad happens,” he responded.

“I can’t, Rodge. I’ll see her everywhere. I’ll see her lounging on that chair in the balcony or on my computer, I’ll think of trying not to kick her in bed while we’re sleeping and then I’ll realize that she’s no longer there,” I said in a burst of strength that allowed me to finish the sentence without a gulp of air, “And I’ll see that damned street every time I come home.”

Roger quickly snapped, “You’ll see her everywhere, and every time. You can move to West Virginia and still see the same road. You can move to Alaska and still see the same road. You can move to Nigeria and still see the same road. Everything everywhere will remind you of her, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but you’ll have to learn to live with it, to face it and to not run away again.”

The ceremony was swift. Tux’s broken body was wrapped in her blanket in a cardboard box and they were rolled into the incinerator. In a few minutes, all that was left of her was the ashes and the pink collar with the jingly bell. I had been holding the collar and the bell in my left hand ever since the veterinarian handed it to me while ensuring me that Tux’s death had been quick. How would you know? You weren’t there. I glared at him and he avoided my eyes. Then Roger came with a little box, “A jewelry box, with the Goddess Bast carving on it,” he said and gave it to the vet who then placed Tux’s cremated remains inside. I didn’t utter a word on the ride home, not even when Roger cursed the driver who did the hit-and-run. And when we arrived, I didn’t even say goodbye to him. I just carried the wooden box and the collar, up the stairs to my room, locked the door behind me and turned off my phone.

I had been sitting here for such a long time, in the same position, in the same hunched posture, staring at the blue pillow in the middle of the room that was traced with strands of white and black fur. Finally, after not being able to bear the sight of it any longer, I closed my eyes and let my body fall back against the mattress, with my head landing on my right hand and I heard the collar bell jingling on my left. Then I began to wail as Bernadette Peters started singing that Sondheim piece yet again.


I felt bad about killing Tux, but somebody had to die. At least for the assignment. However, there is a chance that I might not include this in my final paper for the class.