Here I go flying into her face, like the superhero that I used to pretend to be.
“Oh Debra,” I say.
I never get any closer. I am flying directly into her enormous face, but I never get any closer. I am flying directly into her enormous face.
“John,” she says in a voice in my head. “I told you. I warned you. I said so.”
She wrinkles her nose like Samantha from Bewitched. A tickle, a buzz. I change. That’s how it works. Just like that. She wrinkles her nose, and I am not what I was. I am a fox. I am a dragonfly. I am a tooth. I am bait.
“Wait,” I say. “What?”
Fun fact: my ex-wife has gained the power to manipulate reality. Fun fact: she can make anything happen that she wants to make happen. And she is doing so, with relish. She can turn anything into anything, including me. And she is doing so, with gusto. Because she can. Because she wrinkles her omnipotent nose. Here I go: waterfall, Wonder Bread, fairy, freeway, envelope, elephant, bath-house.
Hello! I say to myself. Don’t you just give up at that point, Johnny Attack? Aren’t right and wrong, good and evil, hero and villain, etcetera and etcetera, hers to decide now? Isn’t she God? If not, why not? Why don’t you just give up at that point, at this point?
I am standing on a powerline like a bird. I am a bird. I am standing on a powerline. What kind of bird? The powerline sings a strung-out song, of tension in the wind, of tension in the rain. Doingy-boingy-doingy, just barely loud enough to hear, I mostly feel it in my feet, which are not feet. They are claws. She is the powerline. She is the song of the powerline. She is the wind. She is the rain. The song tickles my claws, bends my knees a bit, vibrates my teeth, makes me open my mouth, sing it, too. I sing and I sing her song, not by singing on purpose but by the sheer vibration of my entire being, the air alive in my open mouth, the song shaking my empty, fragile birdskin, like maybe I am not a bird at all, but a balloon of a bird, or a paper sack of a bird. Wait.
I will not give up.
How long has she had this power? How long have we been doing this? What kind of bird?
I am walking across a freshly-dozed driveway which is waiting for concrete. My feet sink into the soft. This is our house, the house that we built. This is definitely Alabama. I remember this place. This is the house that we built. This is definitely. I am walking across. I remember the smell of turned earth. I remember the smell of cedar siding. She is the smell. She is the air. She is my hair. I am her hand. I shift and I blur. I try to remember. I do not give up.
I am the nausea; she is the chemo.
I am a pulsing too-tiny artery in my own brain, getting ready to explode. She is the brain, my own brain, waiting for me, the too-tiny artery, to explode, to stroke her consciousness with her own black blood, which is also my consciousness, my blood.
I am her and I am in her.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t think,” I say, and suddenly I am not sure which of us has said it. I know that neither of us meant it, though. So I break away. I run.
“Run,” she says.
I am the wildebeest. She is the veldt. I run, and I tear at her with my claws. My hooves? I tear at the earth of her, at the leafy undergrowth of her. I am hurting her and I’m happy to. I run, afraid and alive. I run, away from and into her, through her. I run, and I try to remember. I will not give up.