Anything to drink?
No. Like beer? You mean alcohol?
Is there beer?
I think there is. There’s lemonade.
Yeah, if there’s beer…
A good housewife would have beer in the fridge. Regardless. I wonder if it’s an unconscious passive aggressive tendency that would have me forgetting this, the beer, stuff you should have in the kitchen. Lately. Jason says things happen. That’s what he said when I got pregnant, that’s what he said when Jenny left Peter. That’s what he says. Everything is gradual, he says, you can’t pinpoint the exact moment you fall out of love with someone, it’s like, gradual. I don’t believe that, I can pinpoint the exact moment. I can press a coloured tack into that moment. It was here. It wasn’t gradual, for me. Just the hundredth time, some arbitrary number that’s not arbitrary at all, looking back it was just the threshold determined at my conception, the hundredth or thousandth time Jason said it—I could put a tack in it, a pin but by the time he finished saying it, whatever it was I didn’t care anymore. By the time he finished saying that thing–I can’t remember what it was but it was one of maybe ten things he says–I wasn’t his baby anymore. And I was not somebody else’s baby but it was true that that very week I wore a tweed skirt to a reading and let a fairly good writer lift it up in the alleyway beside the bar and touch my panties. It was boring, I wasn’t in the moment maybe. I didn’t buy his book, never read him. He wasn’t obsessed with me, it was just the skirt. The skirt gets its own action.
Look, if you’re going out…
Yeah, are you gonna take Annie?
She’s fast asleep.
So. It’s just…
I planned on meeting John just for five minutes, sometimes we did this, just walked near one another in a grocery store. His wife was much more celebrated than any of us were, would ever be? She wasn’t as pretty as me. She wasn’t very pretty and she was a contemporary feminist, she was, in most ways a better person than I am. I cared about things that were outdated. I did my nails every day. She didn’t even tend to her eyebrows. That’s what made her attractive, her arrogance, her ugly, non-ironic messiness. It wasn’t a fumbling Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, cute, sort of misunderstanding of femininity. It was like an English prof who didn’t give a fuck about her tenure smoking in the office during office hours with you, talking about a book in a way that changed your life more than the book ever could; it was that kind of thing.
Annie knew, I knew she knew and I felt nauseous bringing her with me. I never say anything, just stop to look at him and let him look at me. He is obsessed and I think when I stop seeing him he’ll do some pretty fucked up thing. You have to be more careful, Jason always says this when I’m driving or holding Annie or carrying dinner plates. He’s right, I’m not so careful. I don’t want Annie to think I’m awful but it is something that is very difficult to hide from people who know you. If you are awful people know and they don’t have to be smart or be able to feed themselves to know.
I usually get six cans of beer a night because I’m an enabler and I think I could love Jason when he’s drunk. I’m so sad and so in love when Jason is drunk. He brushes the hair out of my eyes and sometimes makes moves. He doesn’t say anything he wouldn’t otherwise say but he looks at me like he is in love. He doesn’t provoke me with arguments about the unions and transgendered access to healthcare. He never reached his potential, he never had anything and he didn’t think about it enough. Now it was just embarrassing, changing your life at thirty seemed embarrassing to him. Men who never reached their potential not because they were lazy are far away men. Far away men love you but you don’t love them after a while because they aren’t nice and your heart doesn’t care about potential.
Why you getting done up?
I’m not. I always do.
Come here. Just… stand still.
He doesn’t like a lot of eye makeup, he wiped his thumb flat under my eye and looked at me, setting the only can of beer in the house on the counter. I want him to do more, I want him to say I love you. I remember the moment, I could pinpoint it, that moment. But it doesn’t matter, I remember the last nice thing he said to me. He could turn this all around right now. I can’t, I’m a terrible person and I’m not ever sure I want to. He squeezed a milky tit and I decided that was a sign. I gave him a blowjob on my knees in the kitchen, my head hitting the shutters that kept out the living room, smacking rhythmically against the over-painted planks.
Here. I point at my cheek but he pulls down on my shirt and comes on my tits.
We had years of this ahead and I am a hopeful person. Maybe I won’t care about things so much when Annie is bigger and I will live with Jason like brother and sister, contentedly. With more sex than a brother and sister who should, ideally have no sex at all of course. Maybe I will grow fat and have no libido and forget about the magic of tweed and stop reading Larkin or become a serious feminist and stop being a horrible person. Or was that there at conception, too? It didn’t matter it would happen one of those ways, some way.
I hear Annie.
I need to change before I go.
I didn’t really love him and it didn’t matter. You might not be awful right when you’re born. If you were careful you might be a better person. It could be a gradual thing.