It wasn’t curiosity that inclined my ear towards the two bodies inside; I was doubtful that, after my time on West Egg, I would ever find myself ravenous in that sense again. It was by the window that feverish day that the first breeze in hours rose up from the beach and grazed past the brushwood and white flora to coax me closer. Even from inside Daisy seemed startled by the stirring in the air – for a moment she drew her hand away from Tom’s and peered outward into the balmy darkness, her expression searching for something I could not detect.
“What is it?” Tom demanded.
“Just some air.” Her response wafted out to me on the fragile breath that she had produced.
“I’d rather something other than this,” he gestured towards the bottle in front of him. “It’s sweating almost as much as I am.”
“Alright, one for her too,” he called.
“No, it isn’t that,” she murmured. Tom and I both sensed the unusual depth in her words, sad and insubstantial though they were. It was the first time that I saw Daisy tethered. Even her speech, the weightless form it took after leaving her lips, could not keep her aloft. Rather, it may have been those four words that drew her back towards Earth. “It’s that… it’s about today–”
“We won’t get into that.”
“But Tom…” This time it was her hand that was outstretched across the table, even harboring hesitancy.
“Daisy,” his voice rattled out from between his teeth.
“I think it’s worth discussing…I want to discuss it and…” her mouth fell open, twitching at the corners at she gazed fearfully past her husband, grasping for words. Daisy must have felt the absence of the breeze in that moment just as I did. There was a second that I thought that Tom, his breath hot with liquor, might chuckle. It occurred to me that he knew his wife well in spite of the fact that he had known so many others during their five years together, and that what he had ascertained during those years was that Daisy was not the defiant sort, and never would be. Neither would she be worth the effort – however slight – that it would take to distress her, although that is not to say that Tom never indulged in that effort. Perhaps that is why he eased out of his chair, finished off his drink with an extended gulp, and strode out of the room with the two untouched bottles of ale, leaving Daisy’s unfinished sentence swirling in the stagnant air.
It was a little prickly there. That kind of spiders-on-the-skin, tangible uneasiness.
It came across me at noonish some weeks ago.
I had a navel orange for lunch. That in itself was odd, because citrus and I have been enemies for years.
My sneakers drew me along the sidewalk while I tossed piece after piece of sweet, vibrant peel over my shoulder.
Then the itch wiggled up under my pant leg and ferreted around a while before settling in on my shoulder.
Maybe it wanted a vantage point. Optimum access to my ear, for secret-spilling and gossip-having.
Yes, behold the All-Knowing Itch!
It was either that, or my shoulder had a decent view.
We’ve spent a little time together since. Sometimes it vanishes when I’m holding a door open, or in the middle of an episode of The Office, or during a math test.
Sometimes it isn’t there for days.
I’ve found that without it I’m nearly as off-edge as I am when it is there.
After all, what is the use of something bothersome? Well, to keep you on your toes.
Nothing that might deserve the title of vexatious?
Well then that, right there, is a lie.
There’s a little monster in my chest.
(No, he’s not my heart; he’s underneath my rib cage. He might nibble on spleen, I wouldn’t know.)
Sometimes I don’t notice him.
On Sunday I got bad news, and I felt him jump.
One could draw parallels between his movements and the stomach butterflies that we all get, but his fists are no wispy wings.
I worry that if ever he were to ever dig a tunnel through my stomach lining, he’d come across one of those fluttering insects.
What do you call an introduction where one party munches on the other?
My little monster has no manners.
I’ve become suspicious that he’s cancerous.
(This is the type of thing that students learn in Biology these days)
He doesn’t grow much except to puff out his chest, but if the definition of malignant means he’s moving around my body through the circulatory system (yes, this is the definition), then he’s surely metastatic (oh, I know he is).
It’s true that when he moves it’s never down my legs or arms. He could be smart that way.
But then again, that wouldn’t exactly qualify as spreading, would it?
Perhaps he has a mind of his own. Just like me.
Deep in the night she goes crashing.
She has feather duster wings and a festering hope–
She has the solace of darkness on her shoulders and in her lungs and cradled in the curve of her elbow–
There are twenty-four brothers with their arms around her calves–
Sixty sisters, shrieking on the door step–
She goes crashing.
Beautiful? She is?
Old friends swoop in from the attic to perch on her shoulders, to sweet-gossip and trade nightmares–
This is a colorfast world, and she is vermillion.
Her shoulder blades are scored and the little bird she has in her rib cage is sagging, but
She still goes, deep in the night.