Marenna has left me a note saying that she will be back later on Monday--today.
Her casualness pleases me, distresses me. It is as if we were always this
way; no hesitation of formality. The charm, too, of unfamiliarity, and the
crisp edge of curiosity, is also gone. I read her message. I go to the cupboard
and know that, before I even open the bin, that there will be a half-eaten
loaf of bread there, bread that she has baked. In the living room will be
the stacks of canvases, the linseed, the colors smeared on cloths, on the
furniture. The same curious moonfaces staring at me from their respective
shades. I go up to the room I always stay in. My old shirts are here. I
draw a bath. I stir in several
drops of amber. An amber bath. The heat and steam of the water intensifies
this smell until I am surrounded by a physical presence---women, men, are
summoned up and press against me; their heat and their scent do not bother
me for once. They brush their oiled hands against me. The entire bathroom
is swathed in mist. The phone rings. I am sure it is Marenna; she will call
The familiarity of this place seeps into me like the heat. I think I will
look through her room later, to see if she still has any of my old letters.
She doesn't mind that I go through her things; she hasn't anything to hide
from me. I imagine lying on her large bed after this bath; dizzy with heat,
still wet. Once I collapsed on her floor, passed out. My blood pressure
is absurdly low, anemia, I think. I am sure I wish to die here. Because
I know, with a surety that borders on love, that I will not be a disturbance.
I know that she will understand what I did, not be horrified, mortified
or furious. I know that she will realize that this is where I was born (
into her life, her second life, her third...) and that I chose this spot
because it was familiar, comforting; this spot is my grave. Perhaps I will
persuade her to burn my remains and seep them in amber. (My grave; the thought
makes me feel a growing spot of warmth within me. My permanent home. Every
day I work, and every
day, and every way, I try to earn my death, to find the way to end life
without qualms or misgivings so tht I may pass aways utterly, leaving
nothing behind; not my curiosity, not my mind; no part. As if I had
never existed; had never been thought up.)
Maria, Marenna, Maria, Marenna. I often wonder if her name had anything
to do with my wife's name. And now we, Marenna and I, are almost like a
couple, with the old gestures and familiar habits of people who have been
married for years. Except that we have never hurt one another. It is pain
that cements. Without it, we float, without obligations or guilt. I can
demand nothing of her; she, too, can expect nothing of me except courtesy.
And neither of us are stupid enough to lull each other into the conspiracy
of trust. That is what I like about her: she is clear-headed.
That clear-headed woman.
The chiming of a hall clock.
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