That Time I Died

20 Jan

There was an explosion in the building, a bomb, a shooter, an unhappy gas stove improperly wired, I can’t be sure. But I didn’t survive. One minute I was standing there, waiting in line to cash a check, the next minute a white light and a billow of gray smoke. I didn’t have time to feel anything physical, emotional, spiritual. When the smoke cleared, there were bodies lying on the floor, but some people survived. You survived. And you saw me. I was still standing, but I was dead and I knew and you knew.

I see you, you said. I’m dead, I said. I know, you said. How is it that you can see me? I said. No one else could see me.

What is this? I asked you. You smiled. I am your protector now, you said. And you are mine. You reached for my hand. I tangled my fingers into yours and they felt solid, not see-through like a ghost. But I knew I was dead. I knew and you knew. I asked anyway: Am I really dead? Your eyes nodded yes. Now that you’re dead, nothing will ever suck again, you said. I realized there was no weight in my chest and my stomach felt like air. The pain in my neck that has been there since the 80’s was gone. I couldn’t remember any of the shame I’d been looping around my head for decades. My vision was perfect. And the best part was, when I looked down at my feet, my deceased cat’s golden eyes were looking up at me, sparkling.

The Girlfriend

3 Dec

My friend moved into my house while her apartment was getting fumigated. The stay was going to be anywhere from two weeks to indefinite, as these things go. It was a cold winter and all the outdoor critters found cracks in the concrete to squeeze through, entrances into her old, crumbly building. The live traps I gave her worked for the mice, but she’d set them free outside and they’d find the cracks in anew. The fumigators promised to seal the cracks as part of their plan. Please don’t kill anyone, she asked them. I told her not to think about it.

A few days after my friend’s arrival, her new girlfriend spent the night. I liked her girlfriend. She was nice enough, if not a bit overly friendly, a suburban girl still living with her parents, though trying to find a way to live in the city with the minimal money she made at her fast food restaurant job. I heard the giggles rise up from the basement into the kitchen. I smiled. I was happy that my friend had found love.

The next night, the girlfriend stayed over again. She stayed the night after that, and the following night, and the next night. It soon became clear she had found her new home in the city. I wasn’t pleased, but I was that bothered either. We have to lean in to people, to meet them where they are, to accept and support our friends. I already had good boundaries. Now I needed to soften around them.

On the evening of the fourteenth day, I was in the kitchen making tea when I heard the stairs creak. The stair always creaked, but the sound was unusually long, as though someone was trying to be quiet. Her shadow appeared first. The house was dark, lit only by the small light above the stove. She rounded the corner and I offered her some tea. No, she said, sliding the chef’s knife from the knife block and holding it up to her face. Our faces reflected in long slivers, side by side in the knife’s mirror. She grabbed another knife, then another, until her hands were full. What are you doing, I asked. My heart started pounding. She looked into my eyes and smiled. I yelled out my friends name. I yelled it again and again, louder and louder. The girlfriend continued to smile. She aimed the knife tips toward me. I took hold of her wrists and yelled my friend’s name again, then yelled, no! I managed to push her arms down and grab my hot tea. I splashed it in her face and heard the sound of knives clinking on linoleum. She fell to the floor with the knives and I ran out the door.

Bubbles

3 Nov

It was a new invention. Something no one had ever even heard of, let alone seen. Apparently, the release was meant to be a surprise for anyone who entered the library that day, to bring awe and delight. She walked in thinking she would peruse the shelves for a new book of short stories. Until she saw the bubbles.

At first, she wasn’t impressed. They looked like any other bubbles little kids like to blow through round plastic wands made from soapy water. But then, she noticed they were raining down, falling vertically. And there were no kids around. When she looked up, she saw the bubbles were coming out of the ceiling, as though the ceiling were leaking. So many bubbles. The entire ceiling oozing dozens of bubbles at a time. She looked over at the librarian, an older woman with a warm, wide smile. The librarian caught her gaze and said, watch this. She reached for a switch beside her desk. The ceiling fans started to whir, causing the bubbles to move in a circular pattern around the fan’s blades.

The girl stood with her head tilted back, mesmerized. People milled about but she hardly noticed anyone. With each turn of the fan, the bubble’s speed picked up until she could no longer see individual bubbles. The bubbles began to blend into one long iridescent form. The librarian watched the girl. When she saw a rainbow of bubble colors reflected in the girl’s eyes, she flipped the switch again, bringing the fans to a sudden halt. The long single bubble fell from the ceiling onto the girl, engulfing her.

The girl looked looked down at her feet, up above her head, left and right, and then at the librarian, who gave her a wink. She smiled back through a haze of bubble, unafraid. Her Sagittarius heart raced in excitement, ready for the next adventure. She took a deep breath and when she exhaled, the bubble began to float up, carrying the girl with it like Glinda the Good Witch. She floated out of the library through an open window, picked up by a cool autumn breeze. As she floated, she watched the gold, red, orange and brown leaves from up above, and as she floated past her house, she saw her cat looking up at her with calm, half closed eyes.

The Visitors

7 Oct

He only comes to me at night. She does too, but they never come together. I wonder if they see each other over there. I always forget to ask when I see either of them.

When he arrives, it’s like a secret, like he forgot to tell me something. Once he drove me to a tall skinny town made of lego colored buildings along the edge of a sea. He said, we’ll get there eventually. I didn’t know where we were supposed to get to, but he was determined. He never looked into my eyes. I followed his lead. After he left, I understood he was still moving through time and space. He was more serious now, more reverent.

When she arrives, it’s as though a mistake had been made, like she wasn’t supposed to leave in the first place. I feel relieved and also, disturbed. What did happen the night she left for good? Was is my fault? There is always a feeling that this will be the actual last time she will visit. Sometimes when she visits, I see her, she sees me, but I can’t get close enough to smell her or kiss her. All I want is to kiss her.

 

Moontalk

21 Aug

The light shone in my face like a flashlight and pulled me out of sleep. I opened my eyes. It hurt.

I went to the bathroom and when I came back, I found the spotlight in the middle of the bed. A bright blue almost white spot in the middle of dark blue.

My eyes followed its beam out the window, into the sky. The moon found a crack between curtains. She said, I am here.

Summer Snow

12 Aug

When I woke up, I looked out the window. A tiny snowflake floated through the sky like a feather in slow motion. Then another and another and a few more. Soon the sky looked like a freshly shaken snow globe. Was it cottonwood flowers? Was it tree dandruff? Is that even a thing?

I felt a chill in my body, the snow air seeping its coolness through the thin glass of the window. No one said anything. No one was there but me and the window and the snow. Still, I heard a voice say, yes it’s snowing.

It was August. I started to cry.

Squirrels Gone Wild

29 Jun

There were two of them. Squirrels who were not, in fact, squirrels, but tiny spider-men in fuzzy costumes. I caught them scaling the garden wall with deep expertise, upside-down, sideways, all ways. They ripped out my hanging strawberries and unapologetically dug through the potted ferns.

“No!” I yelled through a closed window. I grabbed the predator urine spray bottle and threw open the glass door in a full speed run, sending my face into the screen door. Everyone saw. No one laughed. I knew they were laughing on the inside. But I wasted no time on my ego.

They saw me approach and scampered back up the wall and down the other side. I yelled again, something incomprehensible, and proceeded to spray the wall, the plants, and the ground in a fury. A breeze picked up and turned the urine back at my face. It tasted like peanuts, not good ones. I sprayed again. And again. Until the bottle was empty.

But I knew they would be back. Like those NYC roaches, the “squirrels” have no kryptonite. Yes, they would be back, and they would outlive us all.

Still, I regretted nothing.

 

 

 

The Slutty Bunny

29 Jun

When I stepped out into the garden, I came upon a bunny sitting in the arugula.

I wagged my finger like a mother to a child and said, “just because you’re cute does not make this okay, you slut.”

The bunny looked at me sideways with watery eyes, then hopped away behind the compost pile.

I immediately regretted my choice of words.

Catbat

5 Jan

There were just a few animals at the pound that day. I noticed only one, the batcat. Or catbat, a kitten sized bat with the face of a cat. But not any cat. My cat. My cat who had recently left her tiny body to pursue other worlds, her ninth life having expired. I saw her everywhere, around every corner. Her meow woke me in the night as it rang in the center of my ear, like it was coming from inside of me. When it woke me, she wasn’t there. She was nowhere. But every time I walked into the house, the garden, the driveway, I expected her, I felt her. Every time every day, the disappointment of her body not where it should have been, filled my heart with sinking dread. When I found the catbat at the pound, I knew I had to adopt her. They handed her to me in a ziplock bag with an inch of the ziplock open for air. I brought her to the counter and took her out of the bag. This bag will not do, I said. They offered me a blanket to wrap her little body in. Her eyes were closed and I rubbed my finger up the bridge of her nose, like I used to do with my cat, the same little gray face. When I took my hand away from her face, just for a moment, the catbat woke. She leapt up off the counter and onto the floor. Someone was walking in and the front door was open. She ran out into the night. Catch her, I said. But I said it half-heartedly. I knew she had to leave. You can’t have a bat as a pet. Even a catbat. My heart sank, the way it sank everyday since my cat died. I let her go. I let them both go.

Cell Extensions

9 Jun

My hair was getting tangled. There is so much about hair. I started pulling the knots apart strand by strand, knowing if I went too fast I would rip my hair out. A test of patience. One. Strand. Of thick. Black. Hair. At. A time. This girl, this redhead I met at the coffee shop with tight curls, the kind I always longed for – either that or super straight hair, but I ended up with a frizzy Jewfro mess – she was there and her hair started to tangle too. Maybe the humidity was getting to us. (Humidity is both a friend and foe to the thick-ed hair). Her hair started to knot up too but she didn’t panic. She just let the air take control. I wasn’t having it. I slowly moved my fingers through the mess and then reached for a plastic tined brush. I started to brush from the bottom to the top, like they tell you to do on the No More Tangles bottle, and as I pulled the brush through my frizz, my hair grew slick and long. Remember those dolls in the 80’s whose hair you’d brush and it grew longer? Wait, was that a real thing? Well, it was like that. The more I brushed, with each stroke I pulled the brush through my hair, the longer my hair got. I started moving the brush from the scalp down once the knots didn’t need finagling. I pulled the brush down through each section of my hair and soon I had Cher in the 70’s hair. Not long thereafter, Crystal Gayle. I’ll remind you, Crystal Gayle was a singer whose main attribute, though she did have a lovely voice, was straight hair down to her ankles. Literally, a dream come true. My hair was shiny and so long, so fucking long and pulling that brush through it made it shinier, made my scalp tingle with pleasure, and my heart pound with excitement. A mirror appeared before me. I was looking at myself but really just at my insanely amazing hair.

Listen, it’s not about the hair. I have shaved my entire head multiple times, I’ve shaved pieces here and there, cut it into a mullet, a reverse mullet, a chelsea, and a lopsided bob. But really, and you know this, you do, there is just so much about the hair.