I Promised You a Letter But I’m Soaking in the Tub Instead


And my heart is like a saturated sponge right now, so the tub is where I’ll stay.

As I imagine my own small, white hands wrapping gently around my ventricles and wringing my pumper free of the weight of so much liquid, I think of you, and of the virtue I so lack. If patience is a virtue, that is…

I often wonder if my own over-active imagination, or perhaps my deeply yearning soul has concocted you from the ether. You are a delicious figment armed with an arsenal of insight, encouraging words, flattery, feisty quips, poignant Dylan songs, and imagery so vivid I can hear your inflections as clearly as I can read the Verdana font each message is typed in. Yet you are as far away and strange as any dream, whose vapors are made inconsequential before I can reach over to hit the snooze button.

This exercise is flexing all the right muscles for me right now. Though I may strain to try to see faster results, there is no real risk of lasting injury. This kind of fitness fills the parts of my lungs that haven’t seen air for a long, long time and if it’s only fleeting, I’ll be glad for the expanded capacity. Though I am starting to get tired…

Fear is a great immobilizer. I understand. Sometimes I think I should be more afraid of people and emotion, and less afraid of things like roller coasters. Because the real ones are so much less upsetting aren’t they? If I knew I could get off of a bad/intense/crazy relationship after about ten minutes, stagger jello-legged to the nearest wire rubbish bin, toss my cookies with reckless abandon, then after wiping my mouth with the back of my hand gingerly make my way to the closest paddle boats, life would be sweet. I’d even pack stale bread crumbs for the swans. (On the paddle boat pond, of course)

In an attic somewhere, in a dilapidated old house, a strange, pale girl has a collection of the most exquisite scarabs. They live, trapped under steamy, hand-blown cloches, with tiny bits of twig and organic matter to create the illusion of a natural environment. She keeps them near a sunny window, on an antique mahogany secretary, next to her prize-winning orchid. Every day, at two, just after a tepid cup of tea, she turns over each cloche one at a time to examine the scarabs. She marvels at their iridescent green shells, and the intricacies of every little leg, and she pokes them gently with a real ivory chopstick to see how they react to stimulus. She tries new foodstuffs. She introduces new environmental factors, sometimes even relocating certain scarabs to new cloches. She marvels in their simple, fragile beauty. She cannot believe that such colour can exist in the natural world. When each reaction is carefully noted in a simple black scribbler, she re-assembles the tiny world atop the secretary, and then moves on to feed her mostly feral cat Belvedere.

She will take a nap then, and awake to eat a modest supper before her favourite radio program. She has stacks of books atop her dining table, which is far too large for one person. These books are filled with photographs from various exotic locales. They are bursting with colour and adventure, with strange creatures craning their necks to meet the one-eyed gaze of the photographer, and riotous skies that look like dreamscapes. At the bottom of the pile of books is a particular volume, and the author’s name is stated simply on the spine. It is her name.

Tomorrow, she will wake, take toast with butter and a light dusting of cinnamon, brush her hair one hundred and one times, and think, just for a moment, about leaving the shelter of her attic to visit the market, where she will perhaps buy her own groceries instead of having them delivered. Ultimately, she will not go anywhere, despite being dressed by nine in the morning, and the scarabs will enjoy the celery greens that the grocer always packs separately. She has always found celery too bitter for her taste.

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