n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Prompt #1

I actually wrote quite a bit.  How irritating: I opened randomly to 3am Epiphany [pg 56] and received the following prompt: write about friendship, with a Proust/Beckett morbidness. Um, the universe is after me, but oh well.  Here is a scene, partway down:


“Tell me about your son’s father,” Von asks on the fifth visit, when the winds have stopped and everything out the windows looks somehow newly scrubbed and yet ready for the finale at the same time. “Tell me how you dealt with not having him there.”

“Do you mean at Danny’s death, or during?” I ask her.

“I guess I mean both,” she says.

I tell her there’s not much to say, because there isn’t. I don’t remember the details, although Danny's appearance made it clear the father must have been Latino or maybe Indian. I tell Von that even though it is a small town, with few options, I didn’t really feel like combing back through the clubs to find some drunk schmuck who must have slunk out early, before I could remember anything. “No doubt it is shameful,” I tell her, “but I wanted my baby for myself.” I was messed up, I explain, dealing with Layla’s illness.

“What about Layla’s illness?” Von asks, her red hints curious maybe.

I had recently decided that it wasn't her windows that had set me at ease, but Von's bookshelves, which are subtle. They don’t take over her whole office—obviously not, considering the two large windows that had captured my attention at first. No, though medium of size, Ikea, they are filled with a variety, not just psychologist stuff, although there is some of that. I can see that she gives two shelves per subject, for a total of twelve shelves in two spots: behind me—fiction, poetry, art; to the side of me—psychology, biology, travel. Plus, she keeps an Oxford dictionary under her phone, her highly-elevated phone.

Okay, how to explain, I think. And then I try to explain.

Layla and I were in college together, and there’s something special about her. She’s brilliant, obviously, but it’s not just that. It’s not just her kindness either, which she has in plenitude. Rather, Layla carries a silver orb in her spirit, I tell Von, and people are drawn or repelled. Nobody simply glances and looks away. Either they hate or they love, usually love. But for her, it’s not as simple as having a silver orb. Nothing ever is. Men she desires as friends can only desire her as lovers; women want all or nothing. It all comes out the same.

But she chose me for her friend, I tell Von, and it was great, and then she was sick. Obviously, there was so much in between all that, but then I got to know a different side of her, the inglorious side, the side with mesh hospital panties and puke on her bedspread. The angry side, the kind that would latch on to a drowning person to save herself and then drag them both down into the depths rather than drown alone. At times it seemed like a conscious decision.

“I don’t think it was,” I tell Von. “I really don’t.”

“Probably it wasn’t, Alice,” Von tells me. “Sick people are often not like themselves. They flounder around and sometimes do violence to those that mean the most to them.”

“Yes,” I say. “That’s how it was. That’s how I knew it was, but it was still like being dragged under, and I was so messed up because my friend was sick. So I went out, and, you know, partied too much.”


“Maybe partied isn’t the right word. I danced. I experienced in a new way. Everything was always on the balance and so the whole world was lit up with the beauty of being alive and having a body that was not sick. I went everywhere and actually saw these places. So I tried loving people, and it didn’t work out. Layla got better, and then I was pregnant, and didn’t know the father, but that was okay.”

“Did you try imagining him in your life, Alice?” Von asks me, and just like that, I wonder if she is judging me. I tell her I need more than her judging.

“Sorry,” she says. “I didn’t mean that. I just mean, did you imagine your life as not happening alone?”

No, never, I tell her. Not for a second.
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