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Wondering

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She lies down in the bathtub, propping her head up against the rack of shampoo bottles and resting her bare feet on the faucet.
“What do we do now?” I ask. Her left foot slides off of the faucet and lands on the mat in the tub, the kind you buy to prevent death by slipping on the floor of a bathtub, which not many people actually die from. “We could play cards,” I suggest. The corners of her mouth show her dissatisfaction. “Watch the television.” She continues frowning. “Run outside.” Frown. “Start a revolution.” Slight smile. “Climb a mountain.” Frown. “Bake chocolate chip cookies.” Frown. “Make love,” and I don’t actually know what this means, so I pray she doesn’t smile. And she is neutral. “Frown.” Smile. “Smile.” Frown.
A drop of water escapes from the faucet and lands next to her foot. She can’t take her eyes off of it. I can’t take my eyes off of her. I wish I was the drop of water and then I don’t, because water cannot love.
“Do you think,” and I don’t know what the rest of the question would have been if she had continued.
“I think,” and I’m not planning to continue on, “that I love you,” and I continue on anyway. And another drop of water falls down because I’m falling too, but not in love and I don’t scrape my knee on the pavement because I haven’t quite hit the ground yet.
I wonder if anyone else is falling like me and I wonder if people actually are living underwater, maybe in the Arctic Ocean with the fifteen foot long hermit crabs. “Will you wonder with me?” Frown. “I don’t like to wonder alone.” Neutral. “It makes me wonder if perhaps I’m the only person in the world who wonders why and if and what.”
“If I wondered with you, you might not have as much to wonder about.”
“I could wonder what you are wondering about.”
“If I wondered with you, you might not have as much to wonder about,” she repeats and I have nothing to say, so I wonder why she is sitting in the bathtub and why we decided to get married once and how fast I can run the mile.
We are silent for a few minutes and as I sweat in anticipation of the night, I almost reach for the deodorant in the wooden medicine cabinet. She looks up at me, right into my eyes, and I need the deodorant more than ever. “When did we get married?” “Today,” I reply and then I look at the clock and it’s after midnight and we were married yesterday. But I don’t correct my mistake; I want her to think I am perfect and I want things to be perfect and making a mistake is not perfect.
Her other foot slides down to meet her left foot on the mat. “Was the wedding beautiful?”
“Yes, very.”
“Did a lot of people show up?”
“We eloped.” I haven’t answered her question.
“Did a lot of people show up?”
“It was just the two of us.”
“Where were my sisters?”
I didn’t know that she had sisters and I wonder why I don’t know anything about her and why we got married in secret. “They were eloping.”
She smiles. “What about the rest of the world?”
“They were eloping too.”
“Was the whole world eloping,” and her foot traces a pattern on the mat, but I can’t make it out.
“Everyone was eloping.”
Her smile remains and her foot continues tracing and I try to read the message that she is writing, but I can’t keep up with the swirls and lines. “I wonder.” “What do you wonder?” I ask and I wish that I hadn’t asked. I wonder if it’s possible to wonder without actually wondering about a specific thing.
She sits up a bit in the tub and fixes a bottle of shampoo into a straight line with the rest; I wonder what kind of shampoo she uses on her hair.
When she walks over to me and presses her lips against mine, I remember why I am twelve and she is sixteen. As she puts her hands on my shoulder, I wonder if she minds that I’m about an inch shorter than her. As she pushes me back against the counter, I wonder if the female praying mantis really eats the male praying mantis before they mate; I’m glad that I’m not a male praying mantis. As she moves her lips closer to mine, I wonder if there is anyone in the world kissing someone at this exact moment. When they finally touch with mine, I wonder if she can tell that my lips have never come in contact with another girl. And when she pulls away after our barely kiss, I wonder if I was doing something wrong and how big the largest octopus in the world is.
“Do you have a cigarette?” She looks around the bathroom.
I shake my head.
“Damn,” and I wish I did have a cigarette to make her happy, any way to make her happy. “I haven’t had one in forever.”
“I wish I could conjure one from midair.”
Moving back over to the tub, she swings her feet over its side and sits on it, staring at the tiled wall and leaving me to stare at her back. “What if I left right now?” I’m not sure if she’s talking to herself or talking to me or the tiled wall, although tiled walls can’t hear and it doesn’t do a lot of good to talk to them.
“I suppose you could get a cigarette if you left right now.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“I could lend you money,” because I want to make you happy more than anything else in the world.
“So you want me to leave?” It still looks as though she is speaking to the wall and I wonder if the tiles want her to go.
“I didn’t say that,” but leave if it will put a smile back on your face. I wonder if she is smiling at the wall right now.
“I can go.”
“Remember how much you smiled when,” and my voice trails off.
“When what?” I would guess that she is frowning at the wall, the same way she frowned at playing cards and the same way she frowned when she kissed me.
I shake my head because when I think about her smiling, I frown even more and the little bathroom is overwhelmed by frowns.
“Tell me what you were going to say.”
Just to make her happy. “When we got married.”
“We didn’t get married.”
I shake my head again, but I shake it harder, back and forth, back and forth. “We did. Under the trees and you walked up the aisle and you smiled and we held hands and it was nice.”
“We didn’t get married.”
One more frown and the walls of the bathroom bulge; we’re going to burst. “We did get married! I was there and you were there and you whispered that you loved me and I loved you more than anything else, more than a praying mantis loves another praying mantis!”
Now she is the one shaking her head, but it’s softer than my frantic motions and she doesn’t care and she doesn’t love and I wonder if Tasmanian tiger wolves are truly extinct or if there's a single one hiding in the middle of a jungle and just waiting until the history books are right and they truly are extinct, simply because he had no one to love. And when I stop wondering, she is gone and she has taken all of my wondering with me and the bathroom is no longer bulging from frowns.





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