Under

She sat on the floor of the white room, watching white machines go fast and slow, always alone and islanded by noise, always remembering poems she’d read and but never the authors or where she’d heard them, always feeling scared, watching her clothes go over and over, around and around, drowning and drowning and drowning. She remembered a poem about a man and a drowned woman and she tried not to think of death by water but she did – she was an island in her house, all alone in her empty box; he had never reached his island, alone off the eastern coast of he’d drowned, one of those storms and somehow his sailboat had gotten lost. She remembered the part when the police came by and said they’d found him dead, patted her on the back quite unfeelingly and left in silence. <i>You’re all wrong,</i> she’d said. But they just shook their heads and dropped them like they wished it were true and left, so she fell immobile to his side of the bed and wept.

She cried herself to sleep on the floor there by the tropic of the dryer and awoke to the harsh buzzer signaling its finish. It was warm in the room and quite unlike the cruel Atlantic. In the months afterward she didn’t leave the house except to walk down the street for food and she took the long route to avoid the coast. She moved on like a ghost and barely stayed alive.

They came to her one night when she was emptying the dryer. <i>Hugh Rilow, is he your son?</i> She knew what was coming. <i>There was a car accident last night. We’re so sorry for your loss.</i> They patted her impersonally on the back and left in silence.

She collapsed. She wasn’t thinking. Her brain had shut off. That night, for the first time in months, she took the road out to the cliff overlooking the ocean. She stood there stricken. It seemed almost a living entity, hungry and monstrous. She’d heard that people had died there, years ago, but she didn’t know if it was true or just a rumor, a scary store to tell around campfires when you want to feel scared but couldn’t be safer. It didn’t matter to her. Her legs walked to the edge of the cliff and just kept walking. She didn’t notice what was happening but then she fell and she fell and she fell and it was the first release she’d felt in years, ever since they’d come that first time. She’d been sinking and sinking and sinking and now she was falling and falling and falling faster and faster and faster – but it felt like she had been falling; now she was rising rising rising and she could breathe freely for the first time in a long time; it felt like she fell for years but it was only enough a few seconds and she only had time to take one of those wonderful breaths – oh God she had forgotten what it was like to breathe – before she hit the water, sinking and sinking and flying until she was dead dead dead dead dead! and gone.





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