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