Random Moment (Guernica)

 

A reading by the author:

 

Your eyes, they were all wrong, your mouth as well, misplaced, not unlike those of men and women who suddenly sob or hate unknowingly, your tongue, superb knife, pride of those who step back when the job is done to have a look at their creation. Innocent as the children whose parents are dying, you grow bigger by the day, breast-fed on Macbeth’s soliloquies. There’s at least one side of you I do not know, the side that’s unaware of how I see you, the one that is as subtle as the prolonged scream of a violin abandoned in the throes of the player’s passion.

Was I supposed to notice the way you did your hair in preparation of my arrival? Because when you opened the door and the light ran out and down the stairs, and I could no longer see the way you moved, it was as if for a very long time I had been sleeping in a hole in the ground and I was suddenly awakened only to see you pulling me out. I was not struck by that instant of awakening. For a very long while I had been expecting it. What startled me was the notion that we both had hands to pull each other out, that, at a time when I had lost my faith in limbs and all was grey matter and metaphors.

And while you were speaking and sliding across the floor in your plastic chair, and the music was playing, I kept telling myself I wouldn’t allow my hands to touch you. I promised myself I wouldn’t think of your lips, that I wouldn’t turn them to language and obsession. I did, however, prepare some answers to questions such as: Why are you doing this to yourself? I had prepared a speech about them, about all of the men in my life, about how you could never be one of them. About the taxi driver who played soccer on his phone and told me he was irreparably busy, in whose house I had spent two nights, whose bony hands kept pushing my hands toward his groin while Eddie Izzard was telling jokes about vegetarian Hitler who was also a painter and couldn’t get those trees right and vouched to kill everyone in the world because of it. The taxi driver who weighed the pasta before cooking it.

About the tall gym teacher and his receding hairline, who was too young to have a receding hairline in the first place, whose mouth tasted of corn when he shoved his tongue into my mouth. The gym teacher who, out of a self-fashioned morality, told me not to call him and talked in code when I messaged him. About the man who had taken his dog for a walk and saw us making out in the car, in the parking lot by the park. About how I felt when I realized he was, in fact, looking at us. About how he turned away, embarrassed, when all I wanted to do was to get out of the car and tell him it wasn’t his fault, he shouldn’t be embarrassed. It wasn’t his fault we couldn’t express our feelings any other way.

About the forty-something guy who thought of Justin Bieber when he penetrated his uneventful lover, who was totally unaware of the fact that he, the forty-something guy, was taking me out every week to a dark parking lot by another park. He who had once told me about another quiet parking lot close to the airport and I fled knowing that, once there, we wouldn’t be watching airplanes taking off. He whose hand kept landing on my knee while I imagined scary spiders crawling up on my ankles.

About the older friend who once stood on top of me and then told me not to move while he rushed to the bathroom to wash his genitals, all of this while his companion was snoring obliviously on the other side of the bedroom wall. About how I kept my hand on his groin while we were driving up the mountains in northern Italy.

About the man who worked in a store that sold luxury handbags to wives who thought they deserved them.

About the men who had given me a ride home and whose hands lingered in a handshake. About the boy who had once kissed me on the neck out of the blue. About their eyes, and the constant nagging sensation they were just on the verge of telling me something that would change my life forever. About the fact that they never did. About the way I followed them deep into their confusion. I followed them until I finally came to understand I had mistaken their friendly interest for affection, the way one mistakes the flowered patterns of a discarded napkin for drops of menstrual blood.

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