I want to set up a webcam at the daycare center. Instead of sitting here all day playing dorky online mock government games and occasionally affecting a professional manner on the phone, I could sit here all day watching a grainy picture of my baby as she wiggles around and bats at various developmental mobiles, with the sound, in buffered staccato, of her screeching.
Angela works as a clerk at Urban Outfitters. Her boyfriend will pick her up at the end of her shift. They’ll walk down Walnut Street, arm in arm, while he tells her what happened at school. He takes classes at the Art Institute for web design. It sounds like high school, except with job interviews at the end. Someday, he told her after the first time they had sex, he’d like to be a video game designer. Figure out the shortcuts from the long way in. Angela wonders if they’ll still be together when that day comes, and she tries to picture what their life will be like. A big loft apartment with an enormous TV, where he tests his games. A dog. A balcony. Dinner parties featuring red wine that she’ll take classes to pick.
None of the mistakes would be mine, see. I could say: She needs to be picked up! She’s getting sleepy! I could say, no, no, she’s not finished with that bottle, just burp her, let her try some more. I could say, she’s ready to hear a story now. Tell her about all of life and its relation to the head of a pin. Tell her stupid lies about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Lay her down, wake her up happy. Make sure she never knows misery. Make sure she does everything once.
When Myra came to, she felt a shiner throbbing from sinus to gleaming socket. Her underwear was missing. Frank Sinatra sang down from an apartment window three stories above the crusty brown alley where she curled behind a dumpster, terrified, groping up her skirt to assess the damage. She couldn’t feel anything. It was like a magnet settled in her fingertips and sucked free all sensation. Really, she couldn’t feel a thing. No pain. No texture. None of the familiar cavities and folds. She was like a rubber doll, sexless.
It’s not that I can’t accept the blame. I’ve done what I could. I housed her beneath my ribs, then pushed her free of my not inconsiderable pelvic bone, accepting the doctor’s cruel incision as a necessity. I’ve leapt from my sleep demon fast. I’ve walked her, and scrubbed her, and examined every possible option, every minute, every second, to land on the best. It’s not that I can’t accept the blame, it’s that I can’t accept the limits. She can live big, bigger, wilder than my best protecting net. She can suffer, even with all the best choices. All the right moves. Watch on the webcam, listen.
Nina is bored. She spends some of the time chattering with her friends, some of the time writing self-absorbed somethings that might never be seen. She works full-time, has an infant daughter. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever be in love again. She thinks love might be a bad idea, at least in her case. She thinks that she’s writing herself into a glass box. There doesn’t seem to be any virtue in it, any point. Her work does nothing to improve society. She has tons of free time, while on the job. She should use it well. She should find words that suck evil from where evil ferments and hawk it out, spit gob pretty. Instead, the glass box. See Nina sit. See Nina dance. Eat. Frown. Speak.
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