What are you now? Not anyone’s. Only your own. And what does that mean in the end? What does it mean if you are without owner? If an animal, a stray. Those who have no owner are gathered up and taken away, awaiting adoption or death.
Everything was different for Alice in this new place. The faces, the tempo, the course of her day. Different was good and bad. She did not have much time for anything and after a couple of weeks, the sight of her own painting propped up against the wall of what was supposed to be her studio was depressing. Who had time to paint?
On the other hand, the featureless white of her walls was also a little depressing. When she had moved her meagre belongings in, there had been others with their doors open and she had seen inside their rooms. She had pictured her own home being diffierent. It was lucky that the people from work kept her busy on a regular basis and kept her from sitting at home and staring at those walls.
This is in the past for us now, sitting, scents of incense and perspiration hanging on us, my head inclined into his shoulder. In ten years, he’ll be married and it won’t matter that his ex-girlfriend went crazy on him and smashed up his things. It won’t matter that she got jealous and it confused things between us, because we both started to wonder if I was asking for something more. He’ll be happy and I’ll be happy for him. But I don’t know that now. For now, I just know that the two of us have no concrete plans, nothing locked in as the summer slides away from us like the tide. There’ll be another one, soon enough, but not this one. Not this moment. This moment is singular and gone.
I’d rather stay on the train and read my book until I fall asleep. I’ve awoken confused and drooling on the chair in my living room so many times that I don’t see how the seats on the metro car could be any worse. This will eventually kill me, I know, because it isn’t healthy for an adult human being to survive on ten minute cat naps and adrenaline. Maybe that’s what’s happened to the guy at the other end of the platform. He didn’t start out crazy, but here he is, getting his jollies pretending that he wants other people to think he’s contemplating a jump. This is what I have to look forward to when I finally lose it at work and start to scare people. When I cross the line between laughing in an uncomfortable way at my supervisor’s jokes and cackling as I try to microwave his head. It’s a finer line than you might think.
When it finally did stop, either from his exhaustion or confusion over the sounds and movements I was making, it was like all the air was vacuumed out of the room. There we were, silent and dehydrated.
The light in the kitchen, and I can’t imagine why I didn’t notice this before, is red. It’s spilling red all over the room, over David and over the cat in his arms. Over me.
“I think that she might be pregnant,” he laments, pushing her towards me for a second opinion.
It’s true that her belly is suspiciously round, but with her thrust in this awkward position, it’s hard to tell anything. And would a pregnant female really let me run my hand over her vulnerable belly? Wouldn’t she have some instinct to protect herself? Some inborn need to shelter her imminent young? If she were pregnant, would I be able to feel the forms of kittens through the taut skin? I know nothing about this.
I woke up this morning in the centre of a cloud, real and invisible as carbon monoxide, eroding the protective layers I had developed for myself.