Right Where You Are

It’s a very uninteresting time of the day. 12:45pm. Or 1:23pm or so. Not quite summer, not quite Sunday. All the colors of the world are washed out white and overexposed. The light is kept at bay by thick ugly curtains, torn to fuzz by a dog which doesn’t exist anymore. An evaporative air-conditioning unit sticks into the room through a window, and buzzes uselessly. The space between the light and dark is a fluorescent red-orange, the product of your eyes adjusting to the shadows, and fighting against them. How to describe the feeling of unusual light, on an uninteresting day? It’s crisp. It’s silent and static, but you can feel the push of the momentum of the earth as it goes along it’s endless circular path in the peppered diamond blackness of the welkin. Or you’re hungover and your inner ear is betraying you. Your body has lost it’s sugar.

A lawnmower is starting and moving, somewhere in the heat outside. Some poor remote little husband is wiping his brow with the back of his hand, sneezing, and sweating red as he pushes his machine. His lawn is green and cared-for, and he hates it. The smell of gasoline, grass, and dog shit. The smell of sweat and bug-spray. Saint Augustine. A necklace of dead skin and sunscreen is forming in the great blackening wrinkles of his fat neck.

You walk to the bathroom in search of Advil. You pee and it smells like popcorn. You don’t wash your hands. Most people don’t. You find a wayward off-brand ibuprofen behind the ipecac syrup in the medicine cabinet. It’s as old as you are. The clay red coating is coming off in powder and sticks to the glass. You blow it off, look it over, and lift a cupped hand of tap water to your mouth. As you swallow, it catches on the back of your tongue and the bitterness is familiar and you try again with handful of lukewarm sink water. The taste makes you think of Alka-Seltzer, and now you want an Alka-Seltzer for breakfast.

Ah, the salty-bubbly taste of lukewarm Alka-Seltzer. It’s safe. Comforting. Reminds you of your mother’s perpetual dyspepsia. You would steal sips from her cup left fizzing in the kitchen. The powdery bicarbonate stuck to the sides of the glass, and floated in fractal clusters on the surface of the water. The taste of medicines, old and familiar. Powdered aspirin under the tongue. The candy coating of Advil. Alka-Seltzer. The cloying glycerin sweetness of cough syrup. You hated Pepto Bismol. And Tums. Chalky medicine didn’t have the religion and purpose of the rest of the remedies in the pantry. Oh, you wish you could find an old bottle of Mercurochrome! All the cuts of your youth were healed with Monkey Blood.

You sit on your toilet. You drink your Alka-Seltzer. You flip through an old Playboy. It’s cockled from the moisture of a thousand showers. Why are old Playboy magazines so…orange? There is no arousal in these old soft photographs of oiled breasts, and shaped pubic hair. You stole this magazine from your mother’s boyfriend a long time ago. He had a stack of them in the garage, covered in sawdust. No arousal at all, but it’s part of your routine now. It’s as natural as shuffling down your hallway in the dark. Same magazine, same toilet for the last five years. You think about where these ladies are now. They’re in two places at once! They live in your dying bathroom magazine, and live in a suburb as uninteresting as yours. They’re right where they are, and you’re right where you are.

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