he hadn’t been there to help herpublished: 2013-07-21
When he came home, she was hanging from the door. He knew the moment his key turned in the lock. There was a weight in the air, and it wasn’t the summer heat. It stuck to his palate on breathing in.
He called her name. He never called her name. She was always there, ready and waiting for him. Content with his return, however long he’d been away. She never complained about his office hours, or that his armpits stank. Or his breath.
But this time, he had to search for her. He didn’t have to search for long. All he had to do was turn around.
On leaving the house he had thought: should he return? Just in case she needed him? It was like wondering whether he’d turned the coffee machine off and he decided he shouldn’t worry. He always turned the coffee machine off. That’s the kind of person he was. Besides, he was running late already. People had commented on how he always came late. That’s not the kind of person he wanted to be.
And now, there she hung. Funny girl, what was she doing? She had somehow gotten herself stuck in that door.
He noticed her legs first. They were crossed. She’d do that sometimes when she slept. It was her tong that confused him. It hung out of her mouth. And her eyes were closed tight. There was saliva too. Thick, foamy stuff around her chin. She was framed against the window and he imagined her to be a doll. Then, he hid in the bathroom for a while. He was sweating and thinking. He’d have to lift her somehow and she’d fall on the floor.
He thought of how the neighbors could see. He hated himself for thinking that. That’s not the kind of person he was supposed to be.
He left the house. He wanted to never return. He came back with a friend and waited downstairs while the friend did what he should’ve done. He could hear the effort it costed his friend. He could hear how violent it is to free a body. After which came the thump.
Should we put her in a plastic bag, the friend asked.
He threw the friend the blanket she liked to sleep on without looking at her.
But the friend repeated the question.
Should we put her in a plastic bag?
He had no answer to it. And so the friend put her in a black trash bag and tied a knot in it.
He looked at the trash bag for a while. The friend’s knot was a different style knot than the ones he made before throwing a trash bag away. He thought of how a trash bag smelled. Of how hot it was that day.
He told himself he had to take her out of the trash bag. He had to. It wasn’t as difficult as he thought. She looked quite like normal. Except her ear was folded back, thin as a petal. He put it back and stroked her ear, scratched behind it for a second. Only because he felt he was supposed to. And she was supposed to pur.
Then he cut the trash bag open with a scissor because he didn’t want to pull her out of it by her legs. He wanted to bury his nose in her neck, the way he had often done. To smell her once more and take her on his lap. She liked it when he did that. But she stank and he didn’t.
She was probably dead immediately said his friend.
And he said: really?
For sure, said his friend.
But he knew from the way she smelled this wasn’t true. The scent of fear was repulsive. She hadn’t wanted to die. She had panicked and jumped. And he hadn’t been there to help her.