In the Heart of the Country, or What’s Good for the Wood is Good for the Gander (2 of 2)

1. Today my mom brought home her new boyfriend. I hated him with a hatred that was cruel and black and unforgiving. They came clip-clop through the front door, smiling and laughing, as if returning from a dance. Those are the antagonists.

2. I’m in the family room pretending not to care about them, their entrance and the intimate adult sounds they make when they talk. I stare at a 10-year old purple cichlid hovering in a fish tank, as it makes steady patient Os with its mouth, its languid mouth, breathing. I fool nobody. Especially him. I see him through the tank. He’s a wiry small-boned man with a slow-smiling mouth. His eyes are black and shrewd like two berries, like two black berries. An inadudible sound drops from my mouth like a stone, the most detestable sound I know, worse than any swear word ever coined on a grade school playground — quack! I don’t even know what this word means. But the vicious sound of it says it all. Just as it did when my dad ranted against orthodondists and doctors on the edge of town.

3. I cannot abide his stare. He is the absence of my dad, his negative.

4. Time thickens, it coagulates, moments congeal into an ugly scab and the platelets of space and time stop altogether. We are three particles of dust suspended in a mote, halted. But I imagine, I see things, I see things happen, I make them happen. I’m a particle of dust with a lyrical mind, a poet of interiority. What have I to do with chronology? My jealousy and anger despise it and will have nothing to do with it.     

5. I rise from behind the fish tank, big and strong and menacing; I am hazardous. My mom stands in the kitchen, resting against the refrigerator. The small-boned man stands beside her, jauntily pressing his hips to the side, one arm on the wall for balance, the other arm free, a serpent arm. His fingers twist her hair, playfully. She looks over his shoulder with an oddly ambivalent expression, a flat grin, dull eyes, indecipherable. I am vengeance incarnate. The axe sweeps up over my shoulder…. Like a ball on a string it floats down at the end of my arm, sinks into the throat, the pale white throat beside my mom.

6. Time cracks and ruptures and wild tumult ensues.

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