Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The scent of antisceptic. The tightening of his throat. He was perhaps suffocating. He gulped air like a fish and he longed for something, someone. He thought of his grandmother, her soft hands in his hair. The comfort of her. The scent of powder, Johnson's baby powder her white powdery fingerprints on his skin. It seemed for a moment that this memory of his grandmother had more substance than the room around him. He was perhaps 12 years old. He was drowning in air. It was a reaction. She told him this in her soft voice, her sing-song accent, fingertips softer than the skin of a child and cool against the strangle-heat of his face. She told him to relax and he relaxed into the comforting softness of her belly. If he died now he would know that he was loved.

He opened his eyes and she was there but it was not her. It was a parody of his granmother, someone all skin and bone, beaky face. A jut of shoulderblades, a punishment of cheekbones and elbows and writst. It was not his grandmother at all.

Wife, he thought. Ex-wife and the suffocation was not the simple tightening of his throat, a reaction to a drug that they had given him. This breathlessness was all the things he had thought but not said, lodging against his voicebox. A congestion of words.

Shouldn't have married her, too young to know, failed, did bad, destined to make a mess of it all, destined to be together and apart. Shouldn't have had the wedding, the separation, should perhaps have filed for that divorce.

He closed his eyes and his grandmother stroked his face and it would be all right if he just lay here quietly in his care.

"You almost died," she said to him

He opened his eyes to the jut of her knit brow. He felt a peice of himself shrivel, a little death, a little choking pressure on his lungs and his throat and he was overwhelmed suddenly by the state of things.

"Just relax," she said, "I'm here now."

She touched his face and he couldn't feel her fingers on his skin. The right side of his face. The dead side. He wanted to feel the cool powdery softness of her skin but there was nothing. She was nothing to him. He closed his eyes and breathed in the bitter bite of antisceptic and he drank down deep breaths into his heaving lungs.

Ex-wife, he thought, ex, nothing ex. But every time he opened his eyes she was here with him and she would not be exorcised.


Jasperina said...

Fascinating to hear you speak on the radio today. Looking forward to regularly reading your blog.

the wordy gecko said...

Hello Krissy,

I really like the mood you've created in this piece, very atmospheric, tense. Forgive me but I am intrigued by the spelling mistake: antisceptic instead of antiseptic. Anti-sceptic suggests something slightly different going on in your unconscious.