The horoscope page lying limp in my hands tells me everything will align for me at a time I least expect it, so I flip over to the page that’s about cakes and slices ideal for school lunches, then back again [...]
Give us some privacy, says the caption, and I think, Lady, if you want privacy, stop cashing the cheques. Stop posing there with your manicured hand on your skinny hip. If you sincerely want the world to leave you alone until it forgets all about you, come and live at my place.
What is surprising is that people have taken the time to painstakingly fill out the Find-a-Words and grade-four level Celebrity Crosswords, people sitting right here, maybe with a lot preying on their minds, their eyes searching over a grid of letters, forwards, backwards, diagonally, hunting those letters, waiting for a sequence to jump out at them and make sense and turn into a recognisable word.
This careful professional detachment while they’re gazing at the human map of you, the intimate, failed, faltering misstep, in ghostly black and white. White cloud coursing grainily over a black landmass, some cyclone gathering its bleary force offshore.
She moved the transducer and gazed at the screen and then her hand came out and squeezed my leg and she looked at me and said, I’m so sorry, I can’t see a heartbeat.
Her hand there for comfort. Warmth and pulse flowing between us, skin to skin.
No nausea. Dull anguish like a bitter taste in my mouth, heart like a shallow dish of water I was desperate not to tip, filling my chest. That estuarine feeling of something ebbing away; those symptoms that had kept me so stupidly hopeful. Evaporating like a rainless cloud.
It’s funny, in the pamphlets they hand you they talk about giving yourself permission to grieve and taking time for yourself, but they never talk much about your partner. I’m not pretending I know what it’s like for him, but I look at his face and I can see that he’s worn down as it is, almost to the point of slippage, like a stripped screw.
I’ve watched him out there some mornings, stooping down, looking at the stalks, wondering where the point of non-recovery is, where it comes and what you do once you’ve decided. So this time I spared him. Kept the news of those two blue lines on the test to myself. I look at the calendar and think of him out there on the tractor sowing that wheat, ten weeks ago to the day.
Understand, I’m not a martyr.
My husband is an undemonstrative man and that gesture, as he fitted his warm arms and legs around me in the narrow bed, made me see how much he understood. I woke up in the night and felt his thumb, as he slept, absently rubbing the skin on my own arm. Oh, it wears us thin, marriage. It knocks the edges off us.
The natural course. Nature’s way. I’m baffled by it, I don’t mind telling you. I’ve had a gutful of it. Carving its erosion gullies through us, whipping the rug out from under us, making us eat its dust. I’m waiting for something comprehensible to jump out of this garbled mess and make sense to me.
He’s making the decision to open the gate into the pasture with its desiccated, knee-high wheat. Can’t stand its hopeful greenness struggling in that parched ground, knowing what three more days of this heat are going to do.
Let it go. Let the cows eat it.
[...] oh, Pete, I know what you need and I can’t give it to you; I can see it in the way you scratch the dog’s tilting head just where he loves it, the thwarted tenderness of that gesture so familiar to me that I feel the heavy dish of water in my chest teeter and almost overbalance, and I ache with holding it steady.