You don’t believe them when they say you are young. And yet look in the mirror: a smooth jaw, an unlined eye. There must be some mistake. Your face does not match the leaden weight of the sluggish blood stagnating in your veins. It’s not so much that you’re suffering terribly; it’s that you’re waiting. Waiting in the same way an elderly patient on a morphine drip waits in his hospital bed: too many surgeries, time to go. Waiting for it to come get you, the queasy suspicion growing that it will not, you are the one who is supposed to let go. How does one do that?
After he sent you away, you started to lose your hair. You did not even notice until the day the barrette you used to clip it into a pony tail every morning slips right off because there is no longer enough to hold it there. The jarring tinny sound of it hitting the tile–only now do you see the serpentine strands circling the drain in the shower all this time–all those mornings you had glanced them over without understanding what was happening. You were not in your body. There is a dim awareness within you that this is supposed to be sad. When he withdrew from your body, he must have taken you out of it with him.
These days, you count a lot. You do it with such fast, machine-like exactitude that once or twice a wary customer asked you to count the money again slower. Twenty. Forty. Sixty. Eighty. One hundred. You lay each hundred dollars in a fan of twenties overlaying the previous fan of twenties. Then you gather them all up, tap them into a neat little stack to hand over. You have found that only lemon juice gets the smell of cash out of your hands after a long workday. It burns all the little cuts in your palms from the new bills. Counting the old bills does not cut you. Being in circulation has softened them.
At any time now, at any time you may let go. When you come to me I will make you live.
I would like to live inside your head. “Being Elena Mauli Shapiro.” 🙂 Love the prose.
Thank you! Not sure you want to be in my head right now–it’s so freaking existential in there even Sartre/Camus/Beckett/et al. would be like, “dude, chill out!”
This makes me feel so sad…
Sorry! My brain people are soooooooooooooo mopey and heavy right now, it’s like trying to drag a giant sack of ball bearings wherever I go.
Hey, you elicited an emotional response. That’s always good, right (I think)?