Gold Fish Are Guaranteed to Die
Thoughts flood my head, tsunamic waves crashing into my membranes, carrying along with it shards of wood, memories of things meant to be buried. Hospitals, TV masses, lies, the debris goes on and on. I reprimand the divine, I have been careful after all, safe, perfect, good. Then the next wave hits, to know or not to know? The hypothetical: ignorance is bliss, or is it? My mind floats over to you. You are wild; a foreign and exotic creature whom I have no hope of keeping at my side. What can I expect from you? Expectations are not your forte, nor are responsibilities. I look around at the flood, the floating barks and debris; I reach out to cling on. After all if I do not save myself, who will?
You make love to me. A consolation for what is to come. I love the way you suck on my breasts. You kiss me gently and then bite. That is our pattern, gentle then vicious.
Here comes the hypothetical. Commanded, you answer ignorance is bliss. With one statement, our lives are severed.
Now here I lie, swollen, large, and fat. My breasts are distorted into two unrecognizable creatures. They are heavy. Where am I in this huge new body? What am I becoming? Am I now fulfilling my most human purpose; to procreate? The line of my vertebrate is a river of sweat. The fan fails miserably to perform its only function. I tap on you, and you kick. No matter how many times you do it, I am always filled with the wonder of this first sign of life. To feel another heart beat within me, to know that you are completely and utterly dependant on me for survival. My back bends with the responsibility of it all.
As you fight your way out of me, something is released within me, another crashing wave; a titanic flood. This time it is nothing I have experienced before. It seems like love, yet it is in an unrecognizable form. Instantly this new wave ties me to you. You are more than my creation, our creation. More than a symbol of a love that did not exist, more than an extension of me, more, more. They thrust you towards me, bloodied, slightly hideous. No pink, draped in white, powdered baby here. I gaze down and there it is, the unmistakable wildness. Again I reprimand the divine, where is the fine balance? Why does it always tip toward his side?
Your absence is larger than your presence ever was. You call every now and then, leave unrecognizable messages. You are in New York, flying high, on the flip side.
In my imagination, you are always at the beach. Your perfect body stretched out curving to the bark of the tree.
When you left, the world deserted me. First the people I loved the most, confused by their inability to comprehend the unusual, abandoned me for my failure to repent. There were days when I wrote you, long meandering letters filled with promises and plans for compromise. One begged you, yes begged you, to come back. I could not send it for when I looked down I found mine are not the knees of a beggar.
Mr. Wild inherited your hair. It drives me insane on a good day. Today I want to take a hedge cutter to it. Mr. Wild has also inherited your love for the nude. Like you he is a Mogli, restricted by societal garment demands he simply cannot understand. It takes ridiculous amounts of coaxing to keep his pants on.
As I adjust Mr. Wild’s pony tail, I see you across the street. You are crashing into us, and I have no where to run. I throw Mr. Wild into a seat, as you canter over. I feel your appraising gaze. Boldly I meet your eyes, ready for judgement. Mr. Wild looks perplexed. As you gaze into his face, he mirrors your stare. I see it click, here comes another wave.
At first you are confused. I am irritated by the time it takes you to digest the scene before you. You smile at me, and like a fool I feel relieved. I politely answer your questions and commiserate at the fast paced life you led in New York. You are back in Toronto. You point to Mr. Wild, casually ask his age. I see your inner calculator come to life, subtracting, adding, subtracting again, check, revise, check.
I begin to back away, Mr. Wild in hand. Stubbornly Mr. Wild kicks you. I almost laugh; I have spent so many months wanting to kick you.
You grab my hand, which edges Mr. Wild’s kicking on. He is firm in his loyalty.
Por que? Porque. (Why? Because.)
You insist on meeting later. There is urgency in your voice.
We sit at star bucks (your choice, not mine,) and I gaze into my mocha crappa frappa, as you wait in vain for an explanation. I see the seething anger under your eyes. I recognize the indifference. The nerve of you, conveniently forgetting that our ‘relationship’ was nothing more than a maze, confusing twists and turns leading nowhere. How could I ask you to be a father, when you had such a putrid reaction to being a boyfriend? I would not force you to be tied to me.
And so you begin your litany of love, the pretense that there has been no one like me, since me. Yet it was you who let me go, with the ease of a child releasing their favourite balloon, letting it drift into the sky, further and further away, till it is a mere blimp in hind sight.
I assure you that Mr. Wild knows who you are. The kicking was just a spontaneous reaction, I maintain innocence. I welcome future interaction. Let’s leave our maze behind, let’s progress. After four years, we finally agree on something.
Once a week you visit Mr. Wild. He returns full of babble. He begins to pick up your phrases. He practices Tae Kwan Doe. As you drop him off, I wonder, white or black Calvin’s?
Thursday’s turn into Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays and so on. Every free moment you have now belongs solely to Mr. Wild. I am jealous. He is mine. You are showing off and Mr. Wild is a sucker for it. I reprimand the divine, why are you still the charming one?
Once on a boat floating on the murky waters of Lake Ontario, I told you I loved you. You had just finished dancing with an old lady. I couldn’t help myself; my mouth opened and out flew, 'I love you.’ You didn’t hear me, or perhaps chose not to. I did not know how to be with you and not love you. You came with a set of rules and demands foreign to me. I grew up with parents who were lifers, met when they were twelve, together to this day.
It is Sunday night. You are dropping Mr. Wild off. Mr. Wild is cuddled into a cotton ball, snoring sweetly on your shoulder. As you place him down, you kiss his forehead. I drip with hallmark-like emotion.
The days, months and years meld together into a collage of floods and droughts. We have our moments, too many to count, yet we cling on to our individual barks, unable to take a chance and find one that can sustain us both.
Mr. Wild chatters incessantly now. He is awed by the creations of science, but not nearly as impressed with Nietzsche. As Mr. Wild blooms, he becomes a walking image of you.
I sit in an office, which is overly cool. My nipples begin to take shape between my sheer dress. The man before me looks weary. Day after day, he hands out death sentences to the unaware, lacking the comforting foresight of the divine. The hollowness of the words ‘everything will be okay,’ rings in his ears, a Promethic lie. I want to reach out and comfort him. Assure him I am stronger than the rest, able to share and bear his burden.
My body is engulfed by rebellious cells. Cells that are too lazy to perform their necessary functions. The cells are every where. Inch by inch they claim new territory, setting up house, planting flags. My lungs have been seized which explains the suffocating nights.
My mind swirls to Mr. Wild and you. This time I rage against the divine. What is the higher purpose? Where is the balance? I am not ready for divinity. I want to see my son grow into a man. I want to experience his future. I want more than this.
As I drive home, I feel inebriated by life. A wave washes over me and I realise that this is the last time I will feel whole.
I sit Mr. Wild down. I want to be firm. He is eight, and in my opinion old enough to handle this like a man. Children lose their parents every day I tell him. Most of the children in Africa have never met their parents. You are lucky.
Mr. Wild looks at me with his moon eyes and scraggly hair. His expression is confused. Mr. Wild knows nothing about death. We have never had a living pet, relative or friend pass from us. I curse myself for not getting him a gold fish. Gold fish are guaranteed to die.
I look desperately to you for help. You promise Mr. Wild that you will take care of him, keep him forever and that one day he can come meet me. You squeeze my hand and I break.
Mr. Wild goes off with Maddox for his play date. Tell your kid that you are dying and then send him off to watch Barney. I am angry now. The divine is merciless, unkind and unfair. With anger comes the water. Like the Ashram Dam breaking apart I come undone. You sit across from me and watch. Your back arches but your hands seem suspended, mid movement. What can you say to me, the damned?
As the cells conquer with the zeal of Alexander the Great, my body begins to wither. I am unable to digest anything solid. Over time I take to my bed. Unlike Frieda I do not have the luxury of painting my toes. Instead my mind works ferociously to pen every last thought I have to convey to Mr. Wild. I provide him with useful and practical advice about cleaning, cooking, picking universities; philosophical advice about love and life; and anecdotes of his grand parents and family he’s never met.
Mostly I lie defeated.
Then I begin your letter.
"My bed is a sea of different bodily fluids. I bounce between waves of nausea, hunger, pain and defeat. My body has betrayed me. How can something that brought forth life now condemn it?
I remember the days we knocked boots, in your humongous bed, the late afternoon sun pouring in. I see our bodies heaving and rocking against each other, your hands cupping my bottom, legs holding me down.
You are a snow flake to me. Floating into my life, with your beautiful intricate pattern, there for a moment and then gone.
Forgive me for not telling you about Mr. Wild. I was brave then, fearless. I wanted to be loved with the full force of the universe. Your way was not enough. I did not understand then that love is a fleeting emotion, not something to hedge ones bets on.
Now I have days left, oh I know the doctors say months. But my bones assure me it is days. You are with me in ways I never fathomed. Your strong limbs gather me up mid changes, comfort me on painful nights and hold me when the shaking won’t stop. I look into your eyes and I see a tsunamic wave. I reach out to you and hold on. "
I look down at Mr. Wild and you, sombre in black coats of death.
Tears stream down your face, the indifference washed away.