All Thumbs – in Oil

Last year I fell in love with a man who swore he always hurt people – that he was ‘pregnant with disappointment’ and seemed helpless to be otherwise … a week after he returned the chair and tumbler I’d left at his home … the final totems of our year together, I had this dream.

***

I was with him – at a University by the shore – there was a large cliff, the sea booming below.  “That’s a death trap” I say.  “Why don’t they do something about it? Barriers or warning signs?”  His response, “it’s always been there.  Everyone knows.”  But what about the new student who doesn’t, I think but don’t say. I peer over the edge.

I am trying to get back to the car and he’s lagging behind.  I have a large bag with me.  “Do you want the keys?” he shouts to me.  I put my hand up and he throws them to me – I catch them just before they hit the ground.

I stop to wait for him, putting my bag on a table.  “I was afraid I’d lose my way without you.” I hollar back to him. He does not hurry.

I play a puzzle game on my phone while I wait – I am wanting to go home.  The puzzles are five sliding tiles that form a picture if you get them right.  The images are all of me in various bars or events.  I can see my tiny face in each and they are familiar scenes but I cannot get them put together correctly.  I am akimbo.

I fall asleep waiting.  When I wake he is cleaning a home – it is his, but not.  Floors still wet from mopping I know I have stayed too long.  There is a paper on the table he’s been working on while I slept – creating something – I look at it closely – thinking I will find some clue about who he is, some essence about him.  It is a collage of receipts and business cards and fliers.  Not him at all – but he thinks it is.  I am disappointed.

He says “I am going to tell my parents we are together.”  He is pinning a business card to a corkboard.  I pause.  I feel something – glad he wants to make me legitimate in his life.  Legitimate is the word…

“But we are no longer together – and you were always with her – I just didn’t know.” I speak gently, afraid the news will hurt him. Never looking my way he says “then I guess there is no reason to cause them pain by telling them.” He is not hurt.

I remain illegitimate.

***

Lies make for the clumsy handling of people.

Prints of ‘All Thumbs – In Oil’ available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/795317742


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