Saturday, October 18, 2008

Roses and Bacon

One of the girls had become more inventive than the rest. He had begun to enjoy his adventures to the mailbox. The odd-shaped packages he would find there.

Snail. It was the title of her project. An experiment in snail mail, things made out of paper delivered the old fashioned way. She had sent him index cards the other day because she was using index cards at work. The index cards had titles on the top line, like ‘Paper project #25”, “Projected paper #26” and then there was something flirtatious written underneath this. He saw himself in her a little. He had met her once in real life and she was older than he was and shorter and quite unattractive and she made him laugh out loud. He could have fallen in love with her except for the physical aspects. Maybe he could choose to ignore these anyway, learn to navigate by his internal compass instead of the visual stimuli that he had learned to rely on, but still there were other girls sending him mediocre poetry. He had options. No need to leap to anything just because she was interesting and funny and smart. The irony in this was not lost on him.

He looked around for his computer. He thought he would message her now. See if her little green light was all lit up. She worked with her computer on and she was always there, rarely too busy for a quick exchange. His computer would be on the ground beside the bed where he had left it. He turned on the pillow. He identified the feeling he was experiencing as pain. He was strangely removed from the pain and wondered if he had drunk too much or taken drugs or something. But then he remembered the anesthetics and he wondered why he was on anesthetics and then he remembered completely and sank back into the pillow.

He thought about her. The ugly girl. Rose. The kind of name your grandmother might have, or a girl in a fairytale with pearly skin and midnight hair. When he was chatting to her on Facebook and when there was no way of actually seeing her, he imagined her like that, dressed in a Snow White bodice with her breasts pushed up and offered to him above the velvety fabric like the sweet steamed buns you could buy in Chinatown.

He thought that he would like to chat to her right now about what had happened, he could make a joke of it. Even a stroke could be funny if you framed it right. He thought about her and he was overwhelmed by the scent of frying bacon. Odd.

He thought about a table, nothing, a lamp, nothing, his brother, nothing, but when he thought about Rose he smelled bacon and he began to feel hungry.

He couldn’t be sure how long it had been since his last meal. He hadn’t eaten since before the stroke, the evening. Muesli for dinner. He remembered saying something clever to one of the prettier girls on MSN about the endless cycle of meal times and how he liked to mix it up a little. He was explaining to her how he was marinating some lamb strips for breakfast kebabs, lemon delicious for breakfast desert. ‘You are hilarious” she had messaged back. She had spelled hilarious incorrectly. He had to physically delete his subsequent correction of her spelling. Girls didn’t like it when you corrected their spelling.

He corrected Rose’s spelling all the time. Rose liked that. He was sure of it. She teased him about it in that flirtatious way she had of pointing out his actions to him, telling him exactly how she was framing their interaction, deconstructing their relationship as it was unfolding. He wished she was more beautiful in real life, or at least less ugly. He wished she could be someone he could fall in love with, but she wasn’t.

He smelled bacon and he raised his hands to fold them across his stomach, but it was only one hand. The other had not obeyed his brain’s directive and it lay at his side like a lump of solid meat, a dead thing, road kill.

Oh, he thought, I can’t move my arm.

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