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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weekend Fiction Break: A Lack of Darkness

There’s no true darkness here. The night is faded, like a washed out black sweater, at times faintly orange from the city glow. I don’t squint anymore to see the road, because the light of the billboards and the light poles and the buildings are my new constellation, brightly showing the way.

That’s not to say that it is ever truly light either. Once in a while, the sun peaks through the clouds and leaves a patch of sunlight on my bed. I curl up in it like a cat, but it fades away and I am cold again, wrapping myself tightly in a sweatshirt that reeks of cigars. Here I am, in a brand new apartment, and there is no overhead lighting, except for the bathroom and kitchen. My lamps don’t give off enough light, and the sun hides away, and I feel like a drooping sunflower that’s been brought indoors.

The cigars and the man who smokes them are my compensation. He didn’t promise me anything for following him here, but he did ask me to come. That’s something, I tell myself. Certainly, myself says back. We agree on that point.

I have a starter job that pays for the apartment where the man smokes his cigars on the balcony and forgets his toothbrush in my bathroom. I don’t visit his place. His neighbors, he says. I don’t inquire more, because I don’t want to nag. I know what happens to naggers.

Their skin gets wrinkly and their voices become high-pitched and they lose the ability to be heard by anyone else. They become the thing they hated the most when they were younger. Every day they wake up in the morning, and stare in the mirror at themselves and wish desperately that they had a different husband or a different child who would just shut up for one goddamn minute and listen to a thing they said. But they can’t. change. They are naggers. They will always be naggers. Until they crack and take an overdose of percoset or sleeping pills or something similar, not enough to kill themselves, just enough to be sent to the hospital and they wake up, with the will to live again, fully expecting their husband and child to rush to their side, full of regret that they never listened to her, and ready to listen to her from now on and never discount her. But the husband walks in and his wedding ring’s off and he tells her that he’s been seeing a secretary from work named Crystal and he’s sick of pretending, so if she’ll sign on the dotted line she’ll have the money she wants and he’ll have the woman he wants. The son never bothers to come at all, because he’s off getting high with his friends. The daughter comes, but she is silent for the majority of the time. It takes the daughter a long time to relearn how to talk again, the words come in fits and starts. She is with her friends, and suddenly she will realize that she has been sitting silently for hours. And no one seems to have noticed.

The man doesn’t notice my silences. When I met him, I talked all the time, and I felt so lucky to have landed a man who was witty, funny, and good at listening. But I started to wonder if he was really so good at listening; maybe he was just good at not talking. I tried talking less, to see if he noticed. I still haven’t decided yet.


Debi said...

You really are amazing, Kim! Please tell me that you're trying to get published...talent like yours shouldn't be wasted! (Not that posting your writings on your blog is wasting them, of course, but I think you know what I mean.)

Nymeth said...

I'm with Debi... you are great!

The Husband said...

Wow, I'll give up cigars! :) That was really good - dark - but good. Seems like a reality not to far removed from what many people live.

Kim L said...

debi-I do know what you mean. I'm working on things a little here and a little there. Not as aggressively as I should though.

Nymeth-(blushing) thank you!

the husband-I won't mind if you give up cigars :-)

Yes, I don't think that story is anything really out there. I thought of it while driving home and contemplating once again how it never gets dark enough to see the stars in the cities.