An ambulance siren moans. Red beams zigzag across the walls of my room, like I’m back at one of the dances my high school used to put on. The ones my mother warned me I’d get pregnant for going to. Now that I am probably carrying Gary’s baby, it seems safe to say that nobody is getting pregnant at those dances.
Day: 11 September 2016
When I saw him lying spread out in a private citizen’s driveway on my arrival to the scene there was a part of me that wanted to cry, if only because I remembered how 15 had nearly already eaten its feet to the bone back when I’d collared him two years earlier in a failed attempt to extricate himself from one of our research traps, in which it was possible he’d squirmed for up to two full days.
Has the city changed? She doesn’t know. It feels the same: grey. It was so long ago. She’d only been here for less than eight months, cloistered away on the university campus. And she’d been tunnel-visioned, seeing only him, and herself in relation to him, and the two of them together, or the void left when they were apart. Everything else had been wallpaper.
David lives in the park. His friends call him Dave, but I call him David. Every morning, before my sleeping cheating husband wakes up, I make a cup of coffee, stare in the mirror for far too long, searching for some sign of me. Then, I run. I run on the jogging path around the park, across from the apartment. The apartment is not my home. It’s the place that we moved after we lost the baby. Lost is the wrong word, we didn’t misplace him.
Marla had a taste for practical jokes. She dug through her crafts closet to find a tube of acrylic, its colour reminiscent of dried blood. She squeezed a blob onto the end of her finger and wrote I AM DEAD onto a plain sheet of paper. She then took a pen and scrawled underneath: Please keep the children out as the shock of seeing me may cause permanent scarring. She taped the confession to the outside of her bedroom door.
Torontonians haven’t changed all that much. They are still too busy to meet you until four months from now, and then they will also cancel when that meeting arrives. They still talk about diversity but rarely become friends with people who are not exactly like them. They still aren’t interested in anywhere that isn’t Toronto.
He might compel an artist to produce a work of art under his name, by bribery or force, but he lacked the ability to create a work of art himself. He could not paint anything that a gallery of repute would willfully exhibit. Only under threat of torture would a critic with integrity declare his writing to have merit. He could not sing. He could not cook. He could not sew.
The sharp smell of bleach fills Lise’s room at The Pines Care Center, though there are undertones of hair in need of washing, and the cafeteria down the hall. The cooking aromas here are nothing like the chicken broth and browning onion smell of Lise’s kitchen, but even those would be hard for Sophie to bear right now. She would like to open a window for some fresh air, but she doesn’t want to let go of Lise’s hand, to disturb her.
We are minutes from Boca Chica, and the change in pressure as we slope downward becomes a knife in my ears. I writhe in my seat, and just when the stabbing sensation has crescendoed to the point that I am ready to jam a sharpened pencil in my head, we touch ground in Las Americas International Airport. I blink into the sunlight and palm trees as the plane jerks forward, brakes howling.