There was once a ring, more beautiful than the rest, that only existed in parts.
There was the rough and rigid: all angles too sharp. There was the round-and-round: too comfortable to shine. Then there were the supports. Necessary to withstand hard weather, but nothing to hold on to forever.
When one part married the other, the angles clicked into lines. Projected onto the walls around it shards of light formed blinking. Once closed. Now open. A wink and a nod to the living.
How he wound up on the floor was not a mystery. Things had always started off this way. For him, his father, and his father’s father.
Some creatures were made for the bottom.
Unlike the other mice, this one only slunk. While not particularly graceful, he hid with his body in a dwelling of artificial shoulders until he could feel somewhat safe.
The space between the cabinet and the dishwasher.
The shadow behind a fake plant.
The hole in the fabric of the living room chair.
He didn’t have to move quickly as long as he was covered so he never bothered looking for more space.
The living room was the same as all living rooms. Two couches and a table between. An ominous fireplace the cat sometimes sat in was always unused during the spring.
The kitchen was also the same. Other mice took refuge under the fridge, but the cat always found them. There was no reason to go out; the fear was too great. Cracks streaked the underside of Ikea shelving. The mouse preferred to stay in.
One day the house was quiet. No NPR. No pitter patter of paws. Just to see what the rest of the house looked like, the mouse struck out on his own. So brave he was, the other mice were shocked. So bold and dashing and handsome.
All at once he ran for the shelving and darted outside the chair. Through the kitchen and down the hallway he turned to the smooth black tiling. He had made it as far as the bathroom when he felt his body grow larger. Puffed out fur made him light as popcorn. The mouse was at last, unafraid.
From the middle of nowhere, he didn’t even hear it, he just felt the world flop over. Cadbelly, the odious white cat with one working eye, had batted him hard to the ground. His feet pointed upward with the smile on his face and he knew his anxiety was over.
There was once just one. A long skinny line strung up in the sky carried voices. So many tunneled in. It seemed there should be two.
Two lines of communication running parallel could do the trick. One could carry half the load. The other, the other.
One kept quiet. When the other wondered about their share of the conversation, whatever was said remained silent.
Inside the telephone wire there were people with problems. Casserole recipes. Questions about estrogen. Their friend. Their friends. Their other friend’s friends. All day both lines heard the frequent chatter of others.
“As big as a watermelon.” One voice recounted.
“Babies are too fat these days.” Throughout time they transferred information to each other.
But the wires were quiet. Side by side they did not intersect. This was because one was the other. And the other was the other just the same.
I want to be just like the other two. This is my dream. When I close my eyes and see who I really am, I know I’m exactly like them.
I really am just like the other two. We’re the same color. We have the same movements. I just haven’t clicked on for awhile.
Once I click on, I know we’ll be the same. It just takes a certain Je ne sais quoi. Once I click on, I’ll have the same light. We’ll all beam brightly together.
I would be just like the other two if I could figure out the switch. It was once turned on, I swear. One of them said I was so much brighter. The other one didn’t say a thing. If I could just remember how to press the right button, we’d literally all be the same.
I heard one of them say to the other that our room was a complete dump. I asked why, but they said I wouldn’t get it. I thought about asking again later on, but I’m glad I can’t see what they know.
The bellies of the beasts with the sickness and the death mated from each other’s navel gazing.
“Look how beautiful we are,” said the first to the second.
She was long and sleek with the coat of a rat. She had a head like one of a peacock. Tall feathers sprouted from her scalp. Like bright ideas they pointed high. All she could think of was the beauty of herself and the ideas, like her feathers, moved beyond her.
“It’s almost too much.” The second stared at his chest. He was made from multiple red hearts. Thumping in unison, he was a strong and steady rhythm: his body marched only for himself. With the blood of a thousand sons, his energy spiked mountains. His body was a gift from the Gods. He stared at his stomach, swollen from a feast, but suddenly noticed a hole.
“What is that?” The first said to the second. She pointed at her own belly in shame. She, too, had a tiny black hole and it was tunneling to the center of her core. She was sure she would have noticed had it been there before, but absent of its memory, she gazed. A dark emptiness went straight through her gut. A coldness spread wide.
The second stared at himself, his worry starting to grow. Poking their eyes as far inside as possible, each beast could not find the whole problem.
“Do you see anything?” The first asked the second.
“I see nothing.” The second said to the first.
The idea of a vast emptiness in the pit of such perfection was enough to make a grown beast cry. They curled their claws to reach and pry, but there was nothing to truly hold on to. They reached for themselves, but could not hold on. So they reached for each other in vain.
“I think I feel something.” The second said to the first.
After digging into crevices further against her flesh, he felt the sudden movement of acid. Unlike possible organs nourished in the blood of a belly, this was a wetness that was frozen.
Frantic with a mix of repulsion and curiosity, the second beast tried to melt her.
“What are you doing?” She asked with no answer. He was finding himself inside.
The acid crept closer to the ridges of her body, but it never once warmed to his touch. When it stung the sides of his clawed and gnarled fingers, he immediately retracted in pain.
The acid had melted. Trailing against his skin, it tunneled through his stomach for the chance of an easy spot. His own body was contaminated. Like a hollowed out fish with a lifeless disposition, he could feel the clearing of his hearts.
One heart stopped beating. And then another. His strength began to fade.
“What have you done?” He said to the first, but she had no answer to give him. “You’ve infected me. You’ve made me sick. You’ve given me your own poison.”
She stared at the beast, now scrawny and deflated and shook her head side to side. “I’ve got nothing of my own. I’ve got nothing to give. Whatever poison you have was your own.”
Looking For: You, obviously. I don’t know what happened or why I’m here, but this whole thing is really messed up. I take back everything I said about American Girl Dolls. Just come and get me.
Dream Date: I was going to say something dumb and ironic like a long walk on the beach, but really – that would be great right now.
Best Memory: I was riding my bike through South Africa with the wind in my hair. That was also my last memory. Really any memories besides this one are cool with me. You like cheeseburgers, right? Do you want to get a cheeseburger? Or maybe some clothes. I love clothes.
Pets? Teddy can stay here.
Ideal Look: I don’t know what you were wearing when we broke up, but honestly even if you shaved your head and lost sixty pounds I’m cool with it as long as you show up. Seriously. I won’t even talk about your grandfather.
My new Object Relations book is coming out very soon. If anyone would like to read a free online copy in advance, I’ll be giving out books to blog readers until January 28th. Please email me. Rebeccacoleslee@gmail.com
Thank you so much for your loyalty. I know some of you guys have been reading for several years and it really means a lot to me.