Press "Enter" to skip to content

Prose: Fire from the Sun

Michaël Borremans, Fire from the Sun (2017)

There’s something therapeutic and cleansing and holy about laying on the bathroom
floor. Cool, clear tile against my naked back. Eyes watching God. That’s a good book, if you
haven’t read it. I can’t remember much about it, it was a long time ago, I wore boots back then,
but I remember reading the last page and closing the book and feeling something. I can’t put a
name to the feeling, but I feel like naming feelings is a bad idea. I don’t like when people tell me
to put words to my anger. “Use your words.” It’s a condescending, holier than thou, “I took a
psych course once” phrase that makes you breathe out harsh through your nose and feel both
immature and small but also fuming, like smoke is rising under your feet and the hardwood floor
is gonna melt into magma. I don’t get angry anymore. I paid 237,120 dollars to be able to not
get angry anymore. A hundred twenty dollars per session, twice a week, fifty two weeks a year,
nineteen years. That money came out of my inheritance. I’m not angry about it.
I started therapy when I was seven. I’d tried to drown myself in the bathtub. I can’t tell
you why I was sad, but at least I can name the feeling. My brother found me just before my body
kicked it. Have you ever drowned? You go through phases of losing oxygen. I’d read a book on
diving before I tried so I could be prepared. So I could know what to expect. So I wouldn’t be
scared when my body convulsed for the first time, or the second time, and so I’d understand
that you just have to ride out the high. I didn’t want to just suck in water and call it a night. I
wasn’t gonna make it quick. I wanted to feel myself work for it. My body fight. I wanted to feel all
the air leave and get filled to the brim. I’d wanna go empty, then whole. I woke up to the bright
light of an ambulance and my brother’s flushed, watery face. I didn’t speak to him for weeks,
and when I did, it was to tell him I was locking the door next time.
I don’t want this to be a story about my life, or why I did it, or didn’t do it. I don’t need to
talk to you about college, or how I met Stan, or why I let myself get pregnant. And I let myself. It
was a choice to ride it out. To feel it. To make myself work for it. I remember laying on his
inflatable bed, my side sinking and my eyes sinking down to the bottom of his closet and to the

hanger laying there, teasing me. Maybe I’d get a crucifix and rock it “Exorcist” style. Maybe I’d
wait for him, naked, in our room, on his linen sheets, and smile at him as he walked in the door
and done the “honey I’m home” routine before I’d grab a butter knife from the kitchen and carve
into myself, make myself work for it.
Stan liked making me work for it.
The first thing he ever said to me, directly, at least, was “I’ve got you figured out.” I
looked at him, and there are some people you meet and within that first glance you know in your
heart you’ll hate them for the rest of your life. I hated the way he spoke, like being from San
Fran makes you profound. I hated his nose. I hated the way his mouth curved, like a trout, like
he’d be smirking on his death bed, like life was a joke only the sad can laugh at, like I was a set
up to his punchline, like I was a goddamn punchline, I wanted to fucking punch through his
throat and reach up into his brain and rip it out and stomp on it and make a kindergarten mess
and finger paint with his blood “you’re not as smart as you think and your poetry sucks” but I
think I did what most women do and I gave in and smiled and asked “what do you mean,” as if
we ever really need clarification, as if we didn’t get it the first time, as if the blood flowing to our
pussies is blocking the blood that should be going to our brains, and I remember watching that
smirk spread out into a crescent, haunting, vapid, blocked, boyish, impish, gross and charming
grin and I forget what he answered, this was around the time I started wearing boots, but I
remember blowing him later that night.
“I think I’m falling in love with you.”
“I’ve never said that to a girl before.”
“That you love her?”
“Why’re you saying it to me?”
“‘Cause, I mean, well, look, I dunno, alright, I know I like the way everything feels with
you. It’s not butterflies, but like, who cares? I feel warm.”
“You have freakishly high body temperature, I dunno if I should be credited with that-”
“Oh come on,”
“And we did just have round two, so like, I think it’s just biology, at this point-”
“Shut up and get back in bed.”
Stan wanted to marry me from the beginning. I think it’s because I look like marriage
material. I think it’s because I have thin, submissive hair. I think it’s because my skin is easily
dominated. I think it’s because I’m, like, really good with parents. It’s easier than you’d think.
Just, like, whatever you do, don’t be yourself. And then you’re fine. I think when I met Stan’s
parents, that’s when he really fell in love with me. I think the way I spoke with his father made
him proud. I think when I got my hands dirty in the kitchen and told his mother she cooked “very
well” and not good and I scooped his nephew into my arms and babbled like an imbecile for the
remainder of halftime is the moment he decided to start looking at rings. I remember, that night,
after the meet and greet, after my stomach was full of half-par lasagna and my Ambien had just
started kicking in, he wrapped his arm, his strong arm, it’s warm and solid and makes you feel
like anything could come for you in the nighttime and it wouldn’t stand a chance, snaked around
me and pulled me to his chest, and I remember wanting to cry as the fuzzy black took me over.

Stan is the kind of beautiful that’s liquid between the timelines. Like you could put him
anywhere and he’d fit in fine. I don’t think I’d do well anywhere but here. I can’t imagine bathing
in a goddamn river and wanna beat the shit out of women who think they could. I’d rather starve
in the Mojave than live in a cottage. I think people who like sheep are sheep. I think if you knit,
you’re the weak link. Stan’s the kind of strong that makes him holy. Stan’s the kind of tan that
has a shimmer to it. Dominant skin. Stan doesn’t wear boots. He doesn’t need to. He walks in a
room and the sea parts. Stan’s regal. Stan doesn’t wait in lines. Stan raises his hand and knows
the answer. Stan tucks my hair behind my ear and not in a condescending way. He gets me a
glass of water without me asking and always puts my feet on his lap because he knows I get
cold. Stan’s always warm. Stan has the kind of brown eyes you wish you had. Not the Godawful
pitch, but the kind where they always look like they’re in the sun. Stan’s a teardrop from the sun.
Stan burns me. Stan feels so much it suffocates me. But it suffocates me before I get a chance
to prepare, to know what’s coming. Stan hugs me like it’s a threat. Stan kisses me like it’s an
order. Stan fucks me like it’s his right. Stan’s never had to work for it.
“You..bought a ring.”
“I bought a ring.”
“And a house.”
“Townhouse, but I figure we can make it our own, you know. Like, I mean, okay, this is
what I can afford right now, but like, if you, I mean we, but, I mean, if we wanna move in the
future, you know, then we totally can. That’s, like, a very real possibility.”
“Where would we move?”
“I dunno. Tucson.”
“It’s the first place that came to mind.”
“Do you wanna move to Tucson?”
“It’s not just me, it matters what we both want.”
“I could live in Tucson.”
“Yeah. Own a little gas station. We could grow old and watch football and drink beer
instead of water and move to Florida to escape the kids.”
“Oh, you’re joking.”
“I’m being serious.”
“Now you’re just being sarcastic.”
“Wanna see the baby’s room?”
“Here it is.”
“You painted the walls blue.”
“They came blue, but like, we’ll know in a few weeks, right?”
“Do you want the walls to stay blue?”
“I mean-”
“It’s a shitty shade, anyway. How do you feel about yellow?”

This is the part where we realized, for at least a moment in time, we’d be that couple.
Sweet. American. The kind where she paints in his University sweatshirt and he wears plaid
pajama bottoms. The kind of couple that has spontaneous food wars in the kitchen and wakes
up tangled together like teenagers. I’d lay in bed, a non-inflatable adult bed, and memorize the
way his hair fell on the pillow, like it was so soft it’d cut me, like if I moved an inch it would slice
the silence and ruin the movie moment that was living with Stan. There’d be times where I’d lay
in the tub, our one tub, and let myself sink under the water, head dipping back into the perfectly
warm, engulfing hug of a bath and feel myself be whole. Like life couldn’t touch me. Like
everyone else in the world was underwater and I was the only one who could breathe. I’d come
up to the surface, pull my eyes open and see Stan in the mirror, drinking me in. Like I was air.
He’d pull me up out of the water and kiss the drops on my neck off. He’d tuck my hair behind my
ear before grabbing a fistful and placing me on the tile. I remember missing the warm hug of the
bath, then reminding myself that sometimes, to be perfect, you have to work for it. I quickly
became prone to showers.
Stan loved when I was perfect. He got off on it. Watching his friends stare at me. His
colleagues joke that their wives didn’t look half as good when they got knocked up. I hate men
that say “we’re” pregnant. I hate men that hold your stomach and coo at it as if it’s a separate
entity. As if you’re not even in the room. I hate people who touch your stomach like it’s their
right. Or comment on how little weight you’ve gained and how’s the cravings and have you
picked a name yet? I didn’t want to pick a name. I didn’t want to force anything onto this thing
from the get-go, because what if you pick a shitty name? Like Garth? Or, like, Bradley? What if
you set this kid up for failure with a horrible label of a name? What if you paint the nursey the
wrong color and it ends up gay? What if you breastfeed him too long and find out, years later,
he’s got a box of old lady panties under his bed? What if you tell him the truth about how Mr.
Whiskers actually croaked and he becomes too curious and starts skinning bunnies? What if
you tell him the truth about Santa and he ends up being that asshole that ruins everyone’s
lives? What if he becomes an obnoxious atheist? Or a vegan? Oh, and he was a he, by the
way. I didn’t choose a name. Stan picked Jason. I guess you can’t go wrong with Jason. He’ll
never be president. President Jason. But that’s fine. Who wants their kid to be president? Who
actually believes their kid will be president? I can’t understand the parents who peep their eyes
into the cradle and tickle the kid’s tummy and carve HARVARD into their stomachs with a butter
knife. I can’t understand the parents who are more afraid of neurodiversity than the plague. I
can’t understand parents like Stan, who think because their kid runs for the first time, he’s
gonna be an athlete! Or parents like Stan’s who just miss the little jelly bean So Much and Can’t
understand why that wife, of his, keeps him all to herself? There was a lot I didn’t understand
about the rules of parenthood, the etiquette of childbearing, but I think I understood the meat of
it. The thickness of it. The hard, responsible, adult part of being a parent. The part none of those
other glowy, white fucks could understand. Past the strollers and playdates and top of the line tit
pumps there was just a baby. A soft, perfect, small, weirdly strong but more fragile than
anything you could ever imagine baby. Jason always felt like Stan’s baby. Like I had no part in
the matter. Like he was coach, Baby J was QB and I was the goddamn water boy stuck lugging
the gallons of piss yellow Gaterade. Stan was #1 Dad. Stan’s a Hallmark card. Stan’s the type
who won’t pass the ball if he thinks he can score. Stan kissed Jason’s forehead in public and
promised he’d get up at two in the morning to bounce him to sleep tomorrow night. Stan held

Jason in every picture but got sick at the thought of vomit. It’s hard to love someone when you
only see their ugly side. I think it’s even harder to love someone when you only see the good. I
think what I’m saying is, it would’ve been nice to see Stan get sick at Jason’s vomit.
Jason fell at the park one afternoon when Stan was supposed to be watching him but
was actually watching Sherry Craig bend over to pick up toys and casually point her pilates ass
in Stan’s direction. I don’t think he noticed Jason fall until another mom found him flushed and
watery, bloody in the mulch. Stan rushed him into the house like I’d be on-call and ready at any
moment. He shoved him into my arms like I’d know what to do, like I did the Daddy and Me
classes, like now that he’d done his part of cooing and saving face at the Miss Sunshine
Playground for Pre-Pubescent Pushovers, it was now my turn to look at the boy in the eye and
perform the great balancing act of letting him express his emotions without turning him into a
needy crybaby pussy little Mama’s Boy. I scooped him into my arms, I forget how old he was,
but it was that age you never want them to leave, and paced to the bathroom. I felt my chest
swell with pride when Jason stopped crying in my arms. I ran the tub to the perfect temperature,
warm, hugging, and rubbed the dirt and blood and sweat off his cheeks. When Jason got in the
tub, he, in an instant, like me, became perfectly calm. Part of me wished I could do this forever.
Rub water on his chubby little legs and gently kiss his cheeks all better. Jason looked at me like
I was air. Like I was a magic fairy here to fix all the problems. Like he wanted a parent who
cleaned him, fixed him, made sure he’d never be looked over for a pilate’s ass. After I bathed
him, I laid him on my chest and laid myself down, his warm body heating my chest and the tile
cooling me whole. Stan found us sleeping on the floor an hour later. When he tried to take
Jason, I woke up and let him know they’d never go to Miss Sunshine’s again, and that next time,
I’d be locking the bathroom door.
“And how’s everything going?”
“Fine? Really?”
“I said I’m fine.”
“How’s the family?”
“Fine is a filler word.”
“The family’s doing good. Stan got made Junior Partner.”
“That’s good. And Jason?”
“Jason’s two.”
“Two! Wow! He’s growing up so fast.”
“You’re gonna miss it. That age.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“Are you thinking of having another?”
“Why not?”
“I don’t think I’d put myself through it all again without reason.”
“So you don’t think there’s a reason for having another baby?”
“Should there be?”

Sometimes there’d be days where I’d forget I was me and it felt like I was living another
life. Like I could be someone else. I could be Georgina. No. Allison. Allison. Allison jogs. Allison
wears ponytails and they’re flattering. Allison wins baking contests and doesn’t try a single
ingredient because she’s watching her weight. Allison loves giving head. Allison’s cool. Allison
gets along with your friends. Allison laughs like there’s not a thought in her head and you love
her for it. Sometimes, I’d wake up as Allison. I’d cook breakfast early and sit in the kitchen, arms
crossed and I’d think about what Allison might think about. Grocery lists. My husband’s biceps.
Anyone’s biceps. Church. It was hard trying to be Allison, but I figure if I can’t be happy, maybe
she could be happy for me. Not that I wasn’t happy. Happy’s a strong word. Neutral. Milk. If I
was milk, Allison was fresh-squeezed lemonade and everyone drank it right up. Especially my
therapist. Bitch. I don’t think therapists care. They have too much going on, too many clients,
their own personal shit, and you know it’s gotta be weird if they have a fucking psychology
degree, that they just don’t have time or the space to care about your issues. They ask, but it
has the same concern that your barista has. “Will that be all” has the same cadence as “how do
you feel about that”. “Cream and sugar?” “Anything new this week?” “Your order’s ready!”
“Time’s up!”
I think my best memories in the townhouse were when I was Allison. Jason babbled at
me more. Stan would spin me around in the kitchen and blow raspberries on my neck. I’d mush
Jason’s cheeks together and make my eyes all wide and bright. Stan would smile at the scene
and kiss my back the way you want it to be kissed forever. For at least a moment in time, we
were that family. Road trips. Disney bumper stickers. Stick families and photos on the mantle. I
think I got exhausted of it, it was my fault, I hadn’t worn my boots in years and was stuck with
early morning showers, but I broke my scrunchie and couldn’t be Allison anymore.
Jason quickly grew into an age where you keep forgetting why you went through with
having a kid in the first place. I don’t think Stan noticed the difference. Between soccer practice
and participation ribbons and science fairs and bake sales and carpooling and potlucks and
fucking Sherry Craig, it’s understandable that he was too occupied to notice.
“This is the last time I’ll be coming here.”
“Why’s that?”
“I’m pregnant and moving to Tucson.”
“Tucson? Pregnant?”
“Stan and I discussed things and we think it’s the best decision for the family.”
“Will you be continuing therapy in Arizona?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Why’s that?”
“I don’t need to anymore.”
“And why do you feel that way?”
“Does it matter?”
“My order’s ready.”
Stan bought a proper house. If we were going to be adults, we were going to do it right,
in a two-bedroom, one bath place in the suburbs. We didn’t have a white-picket fence or a
golden retriever, but I’d trade him those in exchange for weekend camping trips and dirtbikes.
We didn’t move because of Sherry. It was Stan’s idea. I didn’t catch them in bed. I wish I had. I

think it would’ve given me another card to play. A lot of people leave after cheating. I don’t see
the point in that. Why leave Stan when I could get a proper house?
“It’s kind of small.”
“Lots of room between houses, though.”
“Yeah, that’ll be nice. Big yard. Kids could play.”
“Do you have a name picked for this one?”
“Not yet.”
“What about Daniel?”
“I like Daniel.”
“It’s your turn to pick, I guess.”
“You don’t like Daniel?”
“I like Daniel.”
“I mean there are other names,”
“There are other cities.”
“Well, yeah, but,”
“You pick Tucson, I pick Daniel.”
“What color’s the kid’s room?”
Having Daniel was easier than having Jason. I think it’s because I knew what to expect.
The pain. The attention. Even if it wasn’t me, for me, about me, having Stan look in my direction
like Daniel, we, were air made me breathe easier. I liked the feeling. Being a mom. Being a wife.
My hair was up in a ponytail after labour. Maybe my postnatal joy was just Allison’s. I blame her
for my happiness. I blame her for the hugging feeling of our bed sheets and the way the smell of
Jason’s hair made everything okay. I blame her for the unstoppable smile I got when I noticed
that Stan and J slept just the same. Slicing hair. Part of me, all of me, wanted Daniel to be even
just a little bit like me. Jason was completely Stan. He’d begun watching the world through
sunshine lenses and thought hotdogs and 7-Eleven slushies were what the angels were eating
in heaven. He wore Nike socks and was a dog person. Jason liked his crusts cut off. Jason
never used hampers. Jason trekked muddy cleats into the house every afternoon and laughed
at my anger. My watered down anger. My Mommy anger. Jason only ever saw Allison angry,
and I don’t know her that well, so I can’t exactly say how funny she must’ve looked. Pretty
funny, I’ll bet. Sometimes, I’d yell at Daniel to make him laugh. I’d scream and slam the door on
the sides of my head and watch his baby wings flap flap flap on the sides of the high chair. I’d fill
the tub to the brim and dunk my head in all the way and shout out FUCK and COCK and CUNT
and pretend Daniel’s face was at the bottom of the tub gaggling (giggle babbling) at me. I cried
tears of joy at Daniel’s first tantrum. Jason poked his forehead, stole his soldier doll and ripped
the head off. I told Jason if he ever touched Daniel again, I’d return the favour. Stan looked at
me like I’d admitted to masterminding 9/11. He grabbed Daniel and bounced him, King of the

Bouncing, that one, and did the shushes and It’s Alrights. I told him we weren’t gonna coddle
this one like we did the first. I told him this one was gonna be loved, this one could be as sad as
he wanted, that it wasn’t his job to fix things, that problems can’t be shushed away and Stan
didn’t understand where this was coming from. Fuck. The ponytail. My socks slid against the
floor as I stampeded to the bedroom and knocked open the nightstand for my last scrunchie.
Scrunchie on. Hair up. Good. Good. Yes. Allison. Allison’s back and she fucking rocks playtime.
Allison kisses cheeks and mends toys. Allison loves her family. Allison doesn’t understand the
confused looks and why poor baby Danny was crying. Shush.
Daniel got in trouble at school for pushing a kid off the top of the slide. The kid bruised
his back and Daniel got suspended for the week. I remember everything about being in that
principal’s office. The shade of blue the carpet was. Her pine desk. The way she twisted her hair
into a bun and secured it with a pencil, like life was a goddamn porno. She seemed like a nice
enough woman. Caring. A friend of the children. I think she liked our family as a unit, Oh right,
you’re Jason’s parents! Jason was such a lovely boy, oh how is he? Still playing soccer, aha ha
ha! But I don’t think she liked Daniel. I don’t think she understood children who didn’t fit her
poster-perfect-gap in the middle-curly-freckled-lovely fantasy. I think she didn’t like Daniel
because he didn’t apologize for pushing that kid. I don’t think she liked Daniel because he
refused to play soccer and told Coach Beerbelly he’d rather take the F than sweat in the
afternoon sun. I don’t think she liked Daniel because as he sat between us in her office with
Stan nodding in understanding while I did my best to pay attention to the situation and not guess
how many variations of the same Mary Jane flat she kept in her closet, Daniel crossed his legs
and crossed his arms and scrunched his nose and listened well and right as she finished her
long-winded speech about Community and Friendship and Bullying being equated to the
Holocaust, Daniel licked his lips and leaned in and told her to go fuck herself. I don’t think I liked
anyone in my whole life the way I liked Daniel.
When we got home, Stan yelled at him. He pointed to their room and said Daniel was to
spend the whole week in there thinking about the consequences of his actions, young man.
Daniel apologized for not being perfect. My ponytail was slipping. My head was hurting. I told
Stan he shouldn’t expect Daniel to play soccer and it’s okay he didn’t like soccer.
“You think this is about soccer?”
“I, um, I think we, as a family, support each other well and, um, care, love, our son,
Daniel, uh, very much, and”
“This isn’t about love right now, ok, this is about our son pushing a child to his death,”
“It was like a four foot fall, alright, let’s not blow things out of proportion,”
“Blow things, blow, God, it’s like you aren’t even taking this seriously! Actions need
“Jason never gets consequences!”
“Yeah, well, how about Daniel try being more like Jason, then, huh?”
Neither of us had noticed Daniel leave.
My week at home with Daniel was one of the best moments of my life. Daniel never
noticed my hair down. He’d wake up late on purpose to avoid Stan and Jason in the mornings. I
did, too. We’d sit on the couch and watch daytime television. We’d complain about going to
Jason’s soccer tournaments and agree that Sesame Street was enlightened, sure, but boring as
fuck. I’d hold him to my chest and feel him fall asleep. I’d sit him on the bathroom counter and

put Neosporin on his mosquito bites. I’d watch him cry at the end of Disney movies and not
notice I was crying with him. I didn’t notice until afterward my week with Daniel was only four
days long. After four days, Stan came home early and sat him down for a talk on the bathroom
counter. I don’t know what happened during that talk, but Daniel seemed happy again. The
house seemed happy again. I remember how it felt to fish my scrunchie out of the bottom of the
“Another bakesale?”
“Yeah. Wanna keep a good rep at the school.”
“Yeah, that makes sense.”
“Hey, uh, I’ve got a business trip this weekend. S’only a week.”
“Where’re you going?”
“Um, Saguaro, I think?”
“You think?”
“S’a business retreat, y’know. Bonding.”
“I’m gonna miss the kids.”
“And you, of course.”
“No, yeah.”
“Yeah. Could you, uh,”
“Just, like, the milk’s next to you, like, can you just, pass it,”
Relationships end when you start watching the other person. Zooming in. Zooming in
over their shoulder to watch them type in their phone passcode. Zooming in to the quick glances
across the room when it buzzes. Zooming into their lip quirks, their nose flares, their excuses,
their apologies, their explanations, life becomes an interrogation and you wanna pull your hair
out or pull out a confession or completely pull out of the situation and dunk your head in the
water and feel the familiar convulsions. When I wasn’t interrogating and shining a spotlight of
“how was the business trip” and “what did you say the secretary’s name was,” I was at the
drawing board, piecing together pictures with the long red string of my memory, frayed as it may
be, but still holding on, still together, still making sense of it all. Why me? Why here? Why now?
Why do this to me? Why do this to us? Was he even doing this to us? What do I even think he’s
doing? I was right, though. I had to be. I could smell it. I could see it. I was seeing in infrared.
Like everything in life was a cool blue and jungle green, but he was Red. Moving. Alive. I hated
that he was more alive than I’d ever be. I hated that he could feel everything. That he could Use
His Words. I felt myself go hot in the head. I felt the steering wheel under my hands start
burning. I felt the street lights shine against my cheeks, the rain on the sidewalk flicker back
dirty neon. For the first time, I felt neon. Like this whole time, life had been three p.m. and too
bright to see anything at all, too blinding, but now the world was lit up. Dystopian. I could hear a
drunk old man singing “Molly Malone”.
See you 2nite xx

Can’t wait..wear that thing I like;)
I waited till three twenty two in the morning to watch her walk out of the motel, him
following shortly after. She really did look pretty with a pencil in her hair. I think my mind was
blank on the ride home. I think I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t put a name to the feeling. I
couldn’t feel the ponytail, the tight, the pull back, the skin around my face getting squeezed
around my skull, like a fleshy mask to be ripped off at any moment. It was coming. That
moment. I could feel it. The neon wasn’t helping. It wasn’t just the neon. I started feeling all the
colours. The whole rainbow. I pulled tighter as I thought about the nights Stan and I spent
listening to music we used to relate to and dancing the way we did when life was ahead of us.
With each memory, each new feeling, I’d pull, and pull, keeping it together, keeping us together,
fuck you Allison, I worked so hard, I worked at it, I did everything, perfect, I was fucking perfect,
where was my applause, where was my credit, where was my fucking inheritance, GOD, I
HATE YELLOW! I HATE SOCCER! I HATE THIS, ALL OF IT. Snap. Fuck. I see the driveway. I
see it, I’m pulling in, he’s not home yet. He said he’d be working late. Yeah. Working late. Gotta
come home for the kids, though. Gotta kiss them goodbye in the morning for school. Maybe if I
never had One or Two I wouldn’t be here. Maybe I’d be free. Maybe he’d be free to have Little
Miss Sunshine and her arts and crafts and pencils and play dough. Maybe he’d miss me. Maybe
he’d miss us. Maybe he’d feel nothing. I’d make him feel nothing. I’d make him feel everything,
then nothing, then just pure rage. Then just anger. The only real feeling. Then he’d understand
me, not Allison, but maybe he’d love me if he felt me. Maybe if he understood. Maybe Stan
didn’t need to read a book first, maybe I could just throw him in the water and hold him down
and he’d come up a new man, a better man, a man who sees the world through neon lenses. I
filled up the tub. One resisted. Two, less so. I could feel each of them zap life through my arms,
each convulsion, I could feel their high. I was high. Where’s my boots? The door. I heard it click
open. No “honey I’m home”. Just footsteps, and shoe squishes, I think I forgot to turn off the
water, and after a minute of the running faucet and the blood rushing in my ears, then came
Stan. Standing there. Godly. Defeated. I apologized for not locking the door. He picked One and
Two up in his arms, weighed down, sinking into the tile, laying them on the floor. For the first
time in a long time, Stan looked at me. The blood from the back of my head seeped with the
water, and I felt a laugh bubble up with every slam. He was beginning to get it. I watched the
brown of his eyes lose their gold and replace themselves with fire. My eyes were watching God.
“Use your words, Stan.” I think we both knew, for at least a moment in time, that our whole lives
we’d been empty, and now we were whole.

Gianna Rodriguez (she/her) is studying french and doing pre-med at Bennington
College. Her piece is inspired by the series of paintings “Fire from the Sun” by Michaël Borremans, and it is dedicated to Kate Carril.

One Comment

  1. Bella Bella October 27, 2020

    This is so beautifully written! Your distinct style and voice are mesmerizing with just the right mix of humor and seriousness. I really enjoyed reading this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.