Monday, September 5, 2011

The Dead Weight Of The Past

What is it that he said so many years ago? Those words that went into her, dug into the muscles of her being like they were made for her cavernous places. Fitted just right, sculpted to stay there for decades, to resist change in all its forms and call to her like a siren’s deadly song. When the moon was ripe and the waters within her rattled with the call of wolves, the little steel sinkers would brush up against a few spiral shells and other lines and hooks left by other people, and though they swayed slightly in the current, they remained firmly planted.
“You’re dead weight,” he said, putting her down.
Exasperated, he continued, “there’s no way I can carry you.”
She looked to the ground, saddened by how her piggy-back ride had turned sour; all the joy she had initially felt gutted by one knife-shaped sentence.
“You don’t know how to use your body,” he said, “you just hang there like dead weight.”
She kept her eyes low, ashamed, but not sure what she had done wrong or how she could change. No matter what he said, he somehow, within the unspoken space between his words and the way his tone hinted at a past she was still unclear of, he always seemed to make a comparison between her and the other girls he had been with, girls who had not been dead weight. Others he had been able to carry and hold against a wall and fuck, but not her. His words, like a stone wrapped in white cloth, sunk to the bottom and settled in. He would send others soon.

Later, when his tattooed arms were gone and the smell of his cigarettes had been washed from her hair, she knew someone, just for one night, that did hold her against the wall of the white tiled shower with his grip. But the stone was still there.
Those things that he said so many years ago. Did he throw those words to hurt her, for pleasure, to get the many things he desired? His gallons of milk required with every meal. Orange soda, the only other liquid he would drink. The unfiltered cigarettes, the potatoes and pork chops and marijuana so he could pretend to desire her. All the things he wanted, that he said he needed, they all required a sacrifice and with each demand, she left a part of herself in the supermarket aisle, left it there to be swept up by the nighttime staff. When they went back home, all she wanted was an orgasm, but he blamed her for his inability to stay hard. She was too wet. Too wide. Too desperate, too loud. He told her each reason, sending more stones to the bottom.

In all the years they were together, she never saw him completely naked. He walked out of rooms backwards, unwilling to let her see every part of him. Did he believe himself to be dead weight? Not his body or his size or the way he held his body, but the pain with which he came. The heroin he took, the cigarettes he smoked, the marijuana he inhaled, were they the worldly manifestations of the hooks that had been thrown into him so long ago?

The other night, laying in a warm lap with the black curtains drawn and candles flickering across the white, naked wall, in a room that he had not known and would never know, she said, “make sure to tell me if I’m like dead weight.” It took her many days to remember were the words had come from, for they did not originate in her. They came up, out of her mouth, unearthed in the calm, clear waters of that long night. Those words, left by someone else, now they were her own fears, her own worry, her own weighted anchors.

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