Being here has the effect of cramming all the rest—wife, mother, medusa—into a jar and twisting the lid tight, sliding it onto the shelf with a clatter. Then another jar is retrieved, a very small one almost never opened. A once-sticky label wraps around the glass crooked and says GIRL.
The city twists off this lid and out she floats, just herself, the rest not demoted but merely on pause or hiatus or cryogenically frozen. I walk these streets with a shit-eating grin. Vancouver’s clouds of pot, unabashed opulence, marginally insane people arguing with inanimate objects. I adore everything about you. I walk these streets with nowhere to be, breathing deep.
They say do you feel weird, without the boys? And the girl exhumed from the bottle smiles serenely and winks. Here I am simply myself, up to my nose in memories more potent, more intoxicating than woodsmoke. Today I bought perfume. Perfume called ‘Stiletto Musk’ that smells much less slutty than it sounds. Today I have blood-red toenails that look much more slutty than they sound.
Today I have blood-red toenails but no blood. I am a caricature with a limited shelf-life, but one who knows well enough to let it run off-leash until POOF.
What I’d forgotten is that there are people who haven’t seen me since Liam died. They are still processing, replaying. They have things they need to say and ask. I scorn those who are too chickenshit to risk anything but silence, and yet this week, I’d rather not be reminded of my snakes. They ask because they care, and because they need to acknowledge him, as I expect them to. When I tell them not to feel bad for asking, I mean it. It makes me love them more. But then I come back to this hotel room and tantrum because the exhumed Girl had been in such wandery, autonomous, feminine bliss. I don’t want to be extraordinary.
I came back here tonight and felt alone, fucking special. I hate being special. I just want to say HEY check out these slutty toes and think they’ll play Der Kommissar on Thursday night?
I love Liam, but sometimes, I wish I didn’t have to carry the gore of his absence.
Walking the bricks of Yaletown the phone rang. Mommy, I am going to bed. It is time for you to come home Evan ordered sternly. Knowing of the room in which he stood, his jammies, the routine to follow. My stomach churned, yanked umbilically.
Castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.