August, Post Factum
He loves to cite statistics. He justifies his lies by spelling numbers at me, numbers that acquire imaginary weight because someone had stuck a percentage mark behind them. %, like that. A hieroglyph that he thinks is the word for truth. I think it looks like the sign for two people with a wall they can’t see around.
He says, “98.7% of all affairs begin in the workplace.”
I wonder if those people had a hieroglyphic wall between them. I wonder what constitutes .7% of an affair, or perhaps .7% of a person. I wonder if he knows that I can hear through the statistics, that I hear his lies. In a moment, he will tell me where he read this statistic. He will invent a source to hold up the imaginary mark of truth.
“It was a survey conducted by Brown University,” he says. “I read it in the New York Times. A PFA statistic. ”
He thinks this means Post Factum Affidavit, that the results of this survey or study were sworn to in a courtroom. He thinks this because I said it, one day when he was quoting statistics at me.
It is a lie. PFA means Pulled Fromyour Ass. I took a lie and gave it back to him, made it into a truth. Now when he says these things to me, he correctly identifies the source, and I don’t have to fight.
I do not listen to the rest, the numbers he stacks beneath the university and the newspaper.
Numbers of people
Ages of people (my age)
How long these imaginary people have been married (amazingly, as long as me)
Socio-economic backgrounds (mine)
An Invented psychology department all with his little false truth mark punctuating. % % % he says. All lies. The walls between become little knives, aimed at me but sliding past.
I draw the percent mark on a piece of paper, over and over. I wonder if I could assign meanings to all the symbols on a keyboard, pull them off and make rune stones from them. Which of them would mean truth? An asterisk would mean searching, knowing that you needed to look at the whole truth beneath the words. Words whispered down in the corner.
“Are you listening to me?” he asks.
I don’t know how to respond to threats disguised as facts. I draw the % very large on the page. “Yes,” I say, and hold it up like a figure skating judge. I give it a 3.8. I draw the asterisk, and whisper no.
“Are you stoned?” he wants to know. Demands.
I would like that, very much, thank you. I am grateful for that. It softens the lies and numbers striking my face. The days and weeks gentle, the months blend with watercolor washes between them. I wish I had colored pencils, to draw the point where August changes to September. I want the greens and burnished golds. I need to dull the knife words that follow me from room to room.
Yes, I am stoned, but not stoned enough. I want to float away, out of this room and away from the sounds. Close my eyes and fall up. Far away and backwards into August, crowned with green.
I didn’t really want the job, anyway, I tell him, because that’s what he wants to hear and maybe if I just say it he will quit making sounds at me.
He tells me that in some countries, it is legal to murder your wife, if she is unfaithful. He says this like it’s a good thing.
I keep the bottle of pills in the kitchen cupboard, behind a broken teacup with a pretty pretty picture on it. A thatched cottage covered with vines and roses. On the side of the pharmacy bottle is a sticker with an eye hieroglyph. It looks like the eye of Horus, an all seeing eye, watching for people who might operate motor vehicles or heavy machinery. It says that alcohol may intensify the effect.
Thank you, Horus. That is damned good advice.
Scene change. Take two. Fuck that, take four.
Eyes are only lenses, shuttered with lashes. You only see truth through the eye of the director. I want backlighting and soft focus. The lens spins. The kitchen washes with gold sunlight. Wine glass prisms and the lace patterns of winter light through the curtains. A blink is slow, like the slide of an optometrist’s camera. Which is better, three, or four? I choose .7%.
The second blink is a fade to black scene change. The camera sees truth on an abandoned piece of paper on the kitchen table. Cleaning solutions stand in a row, jewel colored, and their names speak messages to me. Cheer, Joy, Renew. I will clean all the lies, I will make them true.
They would find your body floating face down in a river, he is saying, but the words can’t touch me. I hear river, floating, and I wish I could float naked down a river. I want summer. I want to see the water rush and break over my skin. I will soak my bruised wrists; the yellow and purple marks will wash downstream. Joy. Renew. Alleluia. I will be saved.
Slow dissolve with voice over: I could snap your neck with my bare hands.
Scene change. The river. I would like music in this scene, but the Voice Over Man is sitting between me and the stereo, and I don’t know what will happen if I walk there. Once I heard a Tennyson poem set to music, and I choose that. I can’t remember the order of the words, they are swimming in and out of each other, they don’t want to line up. I sing them softly, out of order. She left her web she left her loom, she took three paces through the room, she saw the water lily bloom. I am half sick of shadows…
I am 50% at the river, but he can’t see it. He is sitting in a different theatre. I pull ivy from the plant in the kitchen window and wrap it through my hair like a crown of green. Ivy for constant faith. I shed my clothes, watching the colors fall around my feet, and the air rushes cold like a river.
He forgets numbers and where he will dispose of my body, and starts to laugh. “Honey,” he says, “what are you doing?”
He thinks the truth is a small and stoned woman taking her clothes off in the kitchen. He doesn’t understand the communion of the pills I have swallowed, the all seeing eye of Horus, the transformation that is taking place.
I do not like to speak, when I am this stoned. The words never mean what they should. I can only smile, and sink into the river and watch the sunlight breaking in bubbles over my head. Slow motion hair in front of the camera. I choose words of little fishes that swim past, I float up and emerge from the water (breathe, breathe) and open my hand to him and the soft little fish words swim out silver and say Would you please fuck me from behind, thank you.
I lift the empty hand and make the sign of the holy asterisk from forehead to breast, so that it is not a lie, but words where the rest of the truth whispers itself beneath the words.
* I am not here. I am far away and you can’t follow me. The green and August river has drowned your voice. I curve my spine and bow my head in the rushing and holy water. ego te absolvo. I cannot see your face like this, and you become someone else, someone who wanted me to live.
I am consecrated, hallowed and soundly screwed beneath an altar of green leaves, my skin is gilded Venetian by sunlight and hands that are not your hands. The dove sounds fluttering in my throat are his name.
And that is .7% of an affair.