there's a woman who lives opposite me, on the other side of the road. her fence is too tall, and so are her shoes. she has a blue door with an oval of glass in the centre. it looks like an ugly mirror; she likes this because what does it imply of the subject within the frame if the mirror itself is ugly?
she was born in austria and still has the accent to prove it, but no longer the husband. she writes at night, on a typewriter because that's what he liked. she wrote him letters, she wrote stories of his life. mostly, she focused on his inability to differentiate between 'always' and 'never.'
"what's the difference?" he would always say, a furrowed line, one that looked like it belonged in a brown field of upturned soil with radishes beneath it, appearing.
and she would tell him (,")everything.(")
she has horseshoes wrapped around her hips for no other reason than they're poetic to her lonesome ears. i would see her on palm sunday and christmas, and she would always look younger in april and older in december, no matter how many years passed. she was timeless, but i think all sadness is.
she sits at her typewriter for endless hours, writing everything she's not supposed to remember: how when he fell in love with her, his words were confused. "dear," he said, "i will never love you." she corrected him gently, and he led her to his bed. she didn't know he could foresee the future.
this woman wears rabbit furs on thursday nights, pearls strung round her throat, and her old engagement ring as sits on her couch to watch medical documentaries. she finds solace in deformities; their physicality strikes her as beautiful, because it is concrete and the sympathy of others is real. there is no you-poor-dear-husband-leaving-you-in-a-country-you-don't-know-you-poor-dear and hastily retreating backs. backs, she notes, without spines. the invertebrate children on her favourite shows make her cry, muttering, "so beautiful, you are so beautiful, you broken little baby."
she is writing again, typing that day, verbatim, for the third time. "'i'm afraid i will always love you,' he said, and i knew he meant the opposite. 'you have a right to be afraid.' and he turned his head and said he was sorry. this, i knew he meant."
she has no name, just the blue door and no husband, and his medical degree on the wall in a heavy frame. the tv is on and glowing blue, and a girl with mermaid syndrome, truly a fish out of water; that's how the woman feels. she wants to be home in vienna, tucked under her sheets and her husband's lips to press against her forehead. she wants to be pregnant and to walk around with a salient belly that magellan might not be able to circumnavigate. she wants the headhunters to eat her and her men, her man, her child.
does love always have to hurt? inhale. yes, it always does. it means you care. and she knots her lips into a pucker, lemon-stained and tart. love, did you mean it when you said 'always?' and he says, never. oh, what is the difference? i think she forgets to breathe until the ugly mirror with her ugly face warns her of cyanosis. exhale.
her husband, he's still in austria. he orchestrates dirges underwater, often when he bathes in his basin. the woman is on her typewriter, using only half-english as she imagines him again. "he is drowning," she writes, "he is in america and the carolina mud is swallowing his shoes. he loves me," she pauses, "and i look him in the eye and tell him i'm sorry. i walk across the living room's length, and he is paused on the sofa with the medical documentary still playing; there are the spineless children again. i look at my blue door, and it is mine. i see the mirror, and it is beautiful. i see it and i will never see it again. i turn back, and look at him with his arms still stuck in the sleeves of his shirt, bare chest showing his thunderous heart. 'i'll never love you,' i tell him. and i mean it."