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Pistol

 

It’s late, Thea wonders how everyone else has fallen asleep so effortlessly. She has spent the last two days cleaning the entire house and now she finds herself sitting stiffly on her calves in the Zen corner of the living room. The night ahead of her seems ingloriously empty and every idea that comes to her on how to pass the hours feels to her like an out-of-body experience in that the idea of doing anything with her body now is so alien she feels forced out of her own shell. Thea hopes that settling down in different rooms of the house might overwhelm her with just the right amount of curiosity and inspiration that she’ll decide on something to do but each time she moves places, she finds herself opening and closing every drawer, shelf, cabinet she’s just cleaned. To see everything she owns revel in the exquisite pleasure of belonging somewhere, she feels put together; re-arranged.

Thea cannot afford to go to bed so soon because you left your cellphone at home and walked out with an airy wave and an unspecified hour of return. It’s as if the house is manifesting Thea’s thinking: when she leaves the hallway light on for you she’s hopeful you’ll be back soon, and when she switches it off she’s angry, but coping. There are also those moments when she stands with the switch clawed between her fingernails turning it up and down and up and down. From the outside the house as a whole looks like it’s malfunctioning because Thea always circumvents the electricity from the main power switch.

But even tedium passes eventually, despite how flat and uninteresting a string of moments can be there is such a beauty in doing nothing because time grows without water and sunshine unlike the rest of the living. Thea surrenders to her widening yawns and bloodshot eyes, and welcomes the soft nestle of the pillow that harbors a stale remembrance of your everyday smell.

The night is still afoot when she feels the mattress compress, but in the morning it seems as if you’ve just arrived in your unbuttoned trousers with your shirt tucked in, one sock on the other foot invading Thea’s side of the duvet. When you kick her accidentally she wakes up.

Thea’s eyes swallow the sight of you lying next to her and her response is long but quiet. She paddles her way out of the duvet and hits her feet against the soft timber floor while climbing out of bed. Your grunt is indication enough that you’re awake. Though Thea knows she’s disturbed you, she won’t say things like Good Morning or You’re up for at least the next few hours. If anything the next few hours might as well be the scene from last night again, as if you’re not there, as if you never made it to bed at all. 

Thea steadies her full reflection in your bedroom’s floor-to-ceiling windows that run like long legs but end abruptly, as if cut with a broken scissors by a blind hand. She always finds a calming nerve in the shape of her body against the pale morning sky. There is something about the way her edges blur and fix themselves that enthralls her.

Her hands reach for her bedside drawer where she’s neatly stashed away a set of note pads, old movie tickets and some loose jewelry. You can’t see over the goose feather mountain mess to assess what she’s searching for. Both Thea and you know that you’re awake but are just pretending to be asleep. She plans to continue breaking day oblivious of you and begins to undress herself, but as she pulls off her nightie her bracelet catches on to a loose thread. The smell of morning breath quickly turns into a more palpable, muddled laugh.

 

It’s you, laughing at the unraveling thread.

 

Thea, innocently enough, does not notice the entrapment nor how the loose thread has entangled itself with the links and she rips a big hole through the summer fabric of her negligée. She only realizes once the rip is irreparable from here on out because no classy girl takes puckered fabric to be re-stitched. Thea is naked and faces you and because you’ve been watching her all this while and you even let that laugh escape, you abandon the pigeon-ing urge to shut your eyes so as to not seem foolish. She gestures for you to remove your shirt, her lips tight like Tupperware. You’re resistant to cave but also relieved with her acknowledgement especially because in that moment you get the sense she needs something from you. You comply but use the opportunity to break the silence using not just sounds but actual words and ask her for a favor. All you’ve asked for is a bowl of cereal.

Thea’s lips part slightly as if she is about to respond and upon realizing her urge to respond she gulps it back down like a fireball of spit. Will she or won’t she?

You haven’t moved an inch from the position you fell asleep in, your body as steady as a hard-boiled egg. You contemplate whether you should follow Thea around but just watching her circle in and out of the room with her warmongering steps is making you dizzy and you decide to move but only a little to the right and that too, horizontally.

Thea returns for longer this time with a bowl in her hands and sits down on the bed. As she’s layering fruit loops carefully on the spoon you get anxious about the fact that she’s really said not two words to you perhaps since last night, when you left in a hurry. You notice her chokehold grip on the bowl. It could be the condensation, but the bowl begins to sweat. Your sudden wish is for her to put it down but now you hesitate to ask. You’d rather de-particle the existence of the cereal bowl by not acknowledging it with your words because although she did, she didn’t.

After the last bite, she spreads out her long back on the mattress, as unsteady as a rowboat on choppy water and with the ripples you turn into a floating teacup saucer thrown hastily into the sink—both of you unstable, both of you trying to catch the flatness of the bed.

The silence doesn’t pause, it hovers and you both are disappointed. You want to tell her how you felt about her at the restaurant that night, by the river, where Thea met your old college friends for the first time. Your friends were late, and you both plunged under the gas heater for a kiss. Thea wants to tell you how long yet little she slept last night when she waited for you to come because you hardly ever come by now, and when you do say you’re coming you never give her the comfort of counting minutes with control.

Thea is suspended around you these days, her movements wanting and restless like those of water thirsty for the shore. She finds her expectations of you showing up at any minute of the day unmanageable and she’s always waiting for something to happen; for you to come home, for you to wake up, for you to ask her what she’s got to do tomorrow, for you to call her something sweet, like darling. Sometimes when she’s waiting Thea thinks about different things, memories really, like the time you went black tie to her college graduation, or the summer you grew your hair out to below your ears, or the same summer when she chopped all her hair off and you told her she looked beautiful every day for a week, or the month you moved in together and went out for drinks with the delivery guy. Sometimes she could even remember how your beard glittered after drinking too many beers, and the theories you’d come up with for life and living after you’d get high. 

The stronger the silence becomes now, the more you wish Thea will say nothing. But the longer she says nothing, the sadder you get, and the sadder you get, the happier you feel about it, her, all of this; like a capricious creep. Buried in the silence, Thea sucks in her cheeks and plays with her lips, staring at the perpendicular horizon of where the white walls meet the windows. The lines begin to shift into each other. She can tell by the rhythm of their shadows.

She begins to fidget with her self, fixing a sleeve, scratching a thigh, twirling the ends of her hair. She straightens up, her touch shoddy and aching and as she jumps to her feet, the bowl of cereal falls to the ground with a loud bang. You think it survives because it’s made of cheap pyrex, and for a moment you applaud Thea’s choice to leave the glass bowls un-harmed. It must have been the angle at which the groove of the bowl hits the floor because it’s lying dismembered at her feet into five separate pieces. You first stare at the mess like you don’t want to clean it up and then at her feet. The attention to her toes makes Thea feel awkward you notice because she folds them, trying to shove them back in to their own bony axis. You crouch down, picking up certain pieces and putting others down, almost as if you are weighing them to decide how you will carry them to the trash.

If Thea could sing, she’d warm herself with the sound of her voice but instead she lets you do the work in silence that now settles down like a persistent houseguest who cleans up after themselves but only after making lewd comments about your style of decorating. As you walk out of the room with the broken pieces, she feels a panging glow attach like cords from each piece into her chest. She seems to be leaving the room without even moving her legs. Each piece is a sharp echo made available by the silence – Thea is talkative, Thea plays the piano, Thea paints pictures of the setting sun, Thea eats bread after midnight and chocolates in the morning before she brushes her teeth – all this, maybe why the bang was so loud. If language were the weapon, then the silence a handgun responsible for the falling decibels, like acid rain, enough to eradicate all the conversations you once hand; whatever words were, you had both said them all.