sweatervest spring 2009 prose
Amy Rapp: Sleep, before its onset ..... 5 Josh Wessler: The Last Time Home ..... 14 Emily Feldman: Worried ..... 17
Nick Spengler: The Tables ..... 2 Leslie Lim: Hand ..... 8 Robert McKay: In the Public Library ..... 10 Alice Bennet: A Modern-day Prometheus ..... 16
..... 4 Agnes Galore ..... 9 Sarah Link ..... 13 Agnes Galore ..... 15 Agnes Galore ..... 20 Agnes Galore ..... 24
We have come here to fall. There are large slabs at thirty, forty feet and a black cove below. We linger at the edge then leap, a pair of loose rocks that suddenly give and scuttle off the cliff â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s face: a moment of uneasy suspension, the balance in which everything hangs, on which everything is weighed. Ultimately, it all depends on where one lands, the point of delivery, where our bodies surface or fracture. An experiment: what if a wineglass were to skirt the tableâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s edge and shatter on the floor? If the glass rests on the edge it has potential energy; if it falls, the energy is kinetic. I can tell you my knuckles grazed the stem, but I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say if it was an accident. In Montreal, we stood on a balcony on the tenth floor of the Sheraton. You looked out, watched the string of headlights drift over the St. Lawrence (the current had chewed the moon to icy rags). I looked down at the parking lot, the white van at the service entrance, and I understood my potential.
What is it weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re made of? How hard do we have to drop it before it opens up, reveals its principles, its weaknesses? Is it enough to rest on the edge of a cliff, on the edge of a bed in a room that could be anywhere, my knuckles rolling down your spine? On the television, we watched bodies fall through clouds of paper and ash: a sloping trajectory that was almost perfect until you considered the landing. They showed it over and over and we watched it over and over, that neat arc in the sky. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a sort of fascination, a sort of experiment: the posing of a question, the testing of potentials. We have come here to fall, to measure our uncertainty. There are large slabs and a black cove. There is a balcony, a bed. You draw me down to your chest, the bracing arc of collarbone. We linger then leap, weight suspended as we await the surface.
sleep, before its onset
I, Norman Atlas, confess my sins: Yesterday, I watched a girl in a red sweater reading a newspaper and that night thought about what she might look like naked reading a newspaper. There has not been a night since the new year started that I haven’t drank bourbon before going to sleep. I always smoke two cigarettes when I drink bourbon. I pawned my class ring to buy cigarettes. My mother called me four times in the past week and I have ignored each of those calls. I pray my father hasn’t had a heart attack and that’s why she’s calling, only because I worry others might think that I was a terrible son. After it rained, worms littered the sidewalk and I stepped on them purposefully. I am going to kill myself tomorrow. JD Salinger wrote this story called “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” The man in the story is named 5 Seymour Glass and he spends the day with this charming child while his wife makes phone calls in her hotel room. They are on vacation, Seymour and his wife that is, and Seymour goes down to the beach and tells this wise little girl that it is the perfect day for bananafishing. Bananafish do not exist. Seymour Glass kills himself with a revolver he keeps in his suitcase. He does it next to the bed that his wife is sleeping in. If this were any other story I would wonder which direction he fell after he shot himself. I have this horrible imagination that’s been around since I was a kid that I can’t seem to get rid of. When I was younger, it was great but after awhile, it got to be too much. When I’d go to school, I’d imagine what my mother did all day, cooped up in our apartment. I’d imagine her with her head down on the kitchen table because she was so startled by how her life had turned out. Or, I’d think of her watching television and being very content, and want to cry because that was how her life turned out. It’s worst, though, when I read, which is why it’s so strange that I can’t bring myself to think of what happened to Seymour Glass in the couple of seconds after he dies. It might be because it’s the best story I’ve ever read and the only story that’s made sense to me as being logical, accurate, and true. I’ve been alive for awhile and there are only a handful of things that I know for certain. These are them: You really only need one hand to play the harmonica. When a man loves his wife he sends
her roses in a box. Young girls in tutus are perfect. There is nothing more tragic than a young girl who grows up. When you wake up next to someone else, and it isn’t the first time you have woken up next to them, you feel very safe and very calm. People used to be more beautiful. The only way to judge character is to see what someone dresses as on Halloween. Hemingway loved bull fights and Bukowski loved horse races. The best and most respectful job a person can have is being a librarian. Men in their twenties look best in tweed coats with elbow pads. Skin is such a luxury. JD Salinger is an impeccable author. There is one last thing I know is true: sleep, before its onset, is heartbreaking. It wears a low cut blouse when you are at the ballet and the seats cost two weeks’ work and you want so badly just to watch the dancers but the only thing you can watch are her breasts. Every man on this earth just wants to dig his hands into Sleep, hold her by the hips, kiss her on the mouth. Sleep knows this so she grabs mankind by the throat, runs her hands down mankind’s belly, and then flits away to make eyes at you from the corner. She would rather leave you covered in her perfume than lie next to you in bed, but at night, she finds herself meek, taps you on the shoulder, opens those enormous eyes and you forgive her of everything and go turn down the sheets. In the morning, she takes her things from the floor (orange trees, alligators, painted warriors) and puts them in her purse. Sleep will crawl out the window without eating the toast you buttered for her and cut in half. What a tiresome lover! I am sitting in my bathtub and I am thinking of all the horrible movies that have scenes with someone sitting in a bathtub. I want to get out. I’m getting out now. I’m slightly horrified that I’m killing myself only because so many other people have done it and there are only so many ways to do it. It’s just sort of embarrassing, you know. My grandmother had these outrageous nails. They must have been two inches long and they were really hard and always polished. Sometimes, I would wake up early and watch her in the mornings, because she lived with us and would wake up at five am. My grandmother would lie eyes closed on the couch and run her fingers over a strand of rosary beads. She taught me to say the name of a person who you loved or needed help for each bead on the string. That’s bullshit, you know. You say Hail Marys on the small beads and an Our Father on the big one. When you run out of people, my grandmother told me, you count your blessings. I guess that was why she
taught me that way, so I’d count my blessings. I remember running out of people early and then whispering, “army men, Grandma, house, Fun Dip,” things like that until the beads ran out or I fell asleep. After my grandmother prayed she would sit at the kitchen table and pluck from a bag a whole assortment of colored pills. Sometimes, she would let me pick which ones she would take, and it took me years to realize that after I was gone she would just swallow the rest and it didn’t really matter which ones I picked. When my grandmother was dying, they had to take the nail polish off certain fingers to attach needles to her body. She died in a hospital with only eight painted fingernails. I hope I don’t die in a hospital. I’ve said it before, but the most perfect thing on this whole planet is a young girl. I don’t mean this in a Humbert Humbert kind of way, just that young girls love their fathers so deeply and without explanation and can look at things like Christmas trees and feel excited and laugh. They’re just beautiful, you know, everything they do is a little more beautiful than if any other person did it. Standing up with a straight back, asking you to hold the stone they picked up while walking, falling asleep, thinking hard, having their picture taken and just the idea of that making them smile, crying because their finger got pinched, being confused, looking a horse straight in the eyes. I can’t stand to be around anymore because each time a girl gets beyond a certain age, she gets lanky and offensive and looses everything wonderful she used to have. I can’t stand to see it happen one more time. Poor mothers, no wonder they love their baby girls. Mothers must see so much good in those children, and feel empty because they’ve lost it themselves. Mothers must whisper the saddest things to their daughters when it is late and the girl won’t stop crying, and the mother won’t stop crying, and the mother keeps saying, “I used to be you once, I used to be you once.” I’m glad I will never be a mother. I wouldn’t want to whisper to some unborn girl, floating and warm inside me, “Don’t come out here, you won’t like it a bit.” I’m going to bed now. Sleep has come back from the bars and just wants to be held as I breathe in her hair. What a tiresome lover.
hand 1. Standing apart from its flock, a tireless chief, supple with purpose, separating us from the rest.
2. The Judas of his brothers; aim with conviction at your own peril. 3. Danger danger, a slender statement pregnant with implication. Fuck you. 4. Waiting, its bareness the mark of a miss, golden reward for the seeker, temper your hopes. 5. Daintiness for a genteel teacup, it exists forgotten and jobless, too weak to close the door.
in the public library Ink is a complex medium consisting of comprising solvents, pigments, dyes, resins, lubricants, solubilizers,surfactants, particulate matter, fluorescers, and other materials. - Wikipedia, “Ink” Under concrete rafters like the cast bones of paleolithic birds (flight turned stony and stone turned flight), an arts grant hung, on wires, books awing. Their Daedalan pinions, papier-maché on wire, swim in the wash of dustbeams. I sit aloft by the clerestory glass, open books and breathe the scent of papers, inks, each distinct and fastened by a half-hitch somewhere in body or brain to another, by memory’s quantum kinship. This ornithologist’s travelogue, migrating along some slim magnetic tether, flies me to a lost tropic where at ten I inhaled the ester of my grandmother’s cigarettes. They dyed the pages of Janson - in which I was trying to spot Breugel’s quiet Icarus yellow like her teeth. Or this on the history of type, smelling like 1993, the story of a hot-air balloon
that wafts some children to the Mezozoic. Not the words (kerning, casting, foundry), but the binding’s glue, brings me to the graveyard of archaic spines in my parents’ attic. Somewhere, a paleontologist inside me resurrects a ladder of vertebrae, rung by rung. Not the words.
The bodies of the words. Pulp; peroxide; rosin to prevent bleeding. Soot; turpentine; walnut oil on cut metal. Their sweated signatures pressed, preserved like leaves. (Once, an undergraduate, I knelt in woods outside the arboretum, where oak trees had escaped, and in one square meter discovered pin oak, bur oak, chinkapin, swamp white. I slid them into Norton’s Shakespeare, which I never read.) Now I spend Sundays in this fortress, whose deep shelves measure seventy miles. Rich men raised it to lift leaves, leavings, aloft. Steel, crushed stone, lime, rafter: Winterless grove. We come to pray to whatever power can thwart the litter’s rot. The library of the future, it is said, will be bodiless. The world’s books will rise like ghosts from their dessicated pages and live forever. No word will be forgotten.
But think how much the body must forget in order to recall: the eyesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; movements in reading. The placement of light switches, violin strings. The smells we have to sweep from our nostrils and shun for years, as wine must be forgotten in a cellar. Left alone with mute, damp earth. Coolness. Wood. Remember, too, what the boy forgot, whose flawless recall was the fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s torment: Gull feathers, wax. The straps of leather. The sun on his slender arms.
the last time home
The slow drip of a faucet leaks onto my page. If I were a sink it would resonate more, sinking down to where I cannot follow. Outside the rain, nothing will leak unless I step into the river and pull the plug. A body floats by. Things turn morbid, too carried away by whimsy and symbolism. The face distorted, the hands the size of inflated condoms—perhaps that is all it is now, a mess of matted hair (barber’s shop) and bloated latex, spewed oil and blood (red wine vinegar and balsamic) and pesticides still clinging to apple skins (dropped into the chlorinated pool and stuck in the mouth of something floating). It’s just a movie, she said. Perhaps it would seem different if I sank below and adjusted my eyes to the stinging water. Overhead, a train rushes by the water in no hurry at all. Do the passengers in the train feel like I do about their ride? Do they feel as charged by unexpected thrusts (the car moves again and 14 again, forward, but going nowhere, set on repeat) tempered by the steady massaging of the wheels over the ribbed track? Do they sip their coffee to hide their blushing (use caution, hot contents)? Do they read the stories about blood and distant war and drugs in poor rich kids’ glove compartments and give excuses for the tears that pour down their faces and mix with the sweat dripping, melting to where it should not have? A sudden change of acceleration breaks the spell, lifting the haze, drying the faces fingered in muggy windows. Fortunately, there is still a slow blowing of a breeze to throw back the trees and shiver them bare (if you heave hard enough, you can toss out autumn’s colors). From the iced pond, the blue of the fingers scrape the ever-retreating blue above (nothing more than a tinted latex sheet pulled tight). It all seems as lovely and lonely as a cold Sunday’s mug. I remember more now, on the train back to the farm to visit Molly and the horse. She stood up, backed into the wall. Like flies stuck in the catcher’s mitt, there was no where to run to, except to where black flies hung so thick it was hard to breathe without swallowing deep oil and choking on the sands of earth’s fist. Far from the streets, lights burned holes in the night, melting the far smaller stars above. Suddenly alone on the farm, the light peered into eyes forced open until they bled salty blood, red wine, vinegar, pouring back into the flood, where a scream is only another wave, a slow, low bubble breaking under, crashing on the dark beach, invisible from inside the
light. A thin elastic stretches. Too far? A woman screamingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;they couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell for what until they listened from nearby. The first incision was the one they looked forward to least but enjoyed the most with everyone looking on, circling around, breaking more flesh each time. The elastic was not really pulled as tight as you might think. And deep inside now, enough to grasp the opposite lip and rip with careful but steady force: the sting of the acid juice runs down the hand to the thumb which you see is cut and raw, bleeding red and yellow and silver too, from the pearls gathered within. A cut lip, but a baby born, a nation liberated and a wall torn down, though not before another is built for a stronger home. A new seed rides the fresh wind off the sea and greets the new sun, heating new earth, rising into new air and falling back into the original pools, which have not had an original thought since before the star was born, and life was neither given nor received but merely mixed about, like a dance set on pause for a moment and resumed, not quite the same, not exactly better, but different, and enough.
a modern-day prometheus The veteran sips a familiar medicine To quell memories of fallen Titans Immobilized in foreign trenches. But when the pagan faith expired, Talons eroded and Stiff feathers liquefied to Settle at the bottom of a glass. So- as the solider raises tumbler to lips He embraces his executioner, Forgets his mortality. And Bears his chest to that avian foe Who feasts on perished livers.
I am sixteen years old and I stop sleeping. I stop sleeping because I am so tired of not having enough time. I decide not to tell anyone that I’ve stopped sleeping because it’s none of anyone’s business. That’s what I’ve always heard; what you do in your bedroom isn’t anyone’s business but your own. I still do all the normal stuff. I go to school. I go to track practice where I beat a pregnant girl in the fifty- meter dash. She used to be better than me. I don’t think she should be allowed to run while she’s pregnant. It could do something bad to the baby. They let her jump the hurdles, because she’s the best hurdler we have. I have dinner with my sister because everyone is working late these days. She has macaroni and cheese with frozen garlic bread but I don’t eat that during track season, so I have some tomato soup. But I’m hungry again later. I have a long paper due on The New Deal for my level- two-history class. They say level two instead of advanced, because advanced implies a non-advanced, but level two means there’s a level 17 one, so it doesn’t help the kids who aren’t smart. And the kids who aren’t smart don’t care anyway. I try to write the best paper on the New Deal that any sixteen year old has ever written. My teacher only gives out two A’s on each assignment and I always want to get one. My batting average is pretty good. He also writes the best thesis statement on the board and then we all talk about why it’s the best one. Most of the time you can tell whose it is, because that person never talks much during the discussion. He or she is too busy focusing on not smiling and getting red in the face. My mom comes in to say goodnight and she looks tired. I tell her that she should get some sleep. By four AM, I’m pretty sure that I’ve written the best possible paper on the New Deal, and that maybe my teacher will like my thesis so much that he’ll call up the book publishers and ask them to put it in the book he’s always quoting from. “Hofstadter understands reconstruction better than Lincoln did,” he says and everyone nods and writes that down, and I think, “of course he does; he’s had more time to think about it.” I finish my math homework by five AM, and I’m pretty sure I do a better job than usual. I don’t really care about math because it’s not my thing. When it’s not your thing, you just have to be good enough to get by. Between five and six I read the first act of “As You Like It” and then I go out for a jog around the neighborhood. We are supposed to be jogging extra in the mornings,
but nobody ever does. I take a shower and I make my hair look really nice, and I know that a lot of people will comment on it, because usually it looks like shit. I’m not sure I want them to talk about my hair, but I try it. I make lots of eggs for breakfast because there’s time. Everyone in the kitchen in the morning expects frozen waffles, and is really happy and surprised and talks about the eggs for a long time, and everyone goes to work and school happy, and full of protein. The hair is definitely a good idea. The level two math kids are jealous because math isn’t my thing and my problem set is perfect. One of them comes up behind me after school when I’m packing up my backpack. He pushes me against my locker and says, “Math isn’t your thing.” His breath smells of Fritos. Typical. My mom comes into my room while I’m crocheting. It’s a new hobby I’ve taken up. I thought I would have more time for hobbies, but you can’t really get as much done as you think you can in seven hours. You’re lucky if you can do the things you are supposed to do without those seven hours. “We’re worried about you,” she says very seriously. That’s the worst, when your mom says, “We’re worried about you” like that. You want to tell her to go fuck herself, and also cry and have her hug you. I pretend not to know why she’s worried, and I show her the paper on the New Deal that got an A+. It’s not even real, I tell her, the plus, because the school has a policy against them, it’s just to let me know that it was better than the best. The paper cheers her up a little bit, but then she touches me under my eyes, and asks if I want to sleep in her bed. I’m too old to sleep with my parents. The day I win the Junior Term Paper Prize for my study of Darwin’s influence on 20th Century Literature, my dad takes me to the mall to buy new sneakers. One time I bought sneakers with my mom and my dad was really hurt, so now I remember to wait. “Your Mom’s really worried about you,” he says in the car. I tell him about how my track coach said she’s never seen any runner improve as much as I have, and that she wants me to lead the four by four hundred relay. I can tell how proud he is. Sports stuff always gets him because he played lacrosse in college and he really wanted a son to share that with in a masculine way, but he got two daughters instead. “I don’t want to scare you,” he says. “But your Mom is really upset. She stopped eating. I’m worried about you too.” The problem is that I can’t sleep at all. I sit in the dark doing nothing, but I keep thinking about things I want to be doing and I never fall asleep. They send me to a specialist who does a lot of tests, and asks me to talk about my anxiety, and my family, and my friends. I don’t keep
anything from her because I know that she’s there to help. I’m not one of those bitchy girls who wouldn’t talk to a therapist because it’s not cool. She gives me pills to take before bed. The pills are great. I’ve never done acid, but it must be like these pills. They don’t make me fall asleep, but they make me see crazy stuff on the walls, and they make my dog look like he has two heads. The downside is that they make me forget things. Like one night I go to KFC and order a huge bucket of fried chicken, and I bring it home and eat it in the living room. I have been a vegetarian since I was twelve. They take me to more specialists, sometimes out of state, and it starts getting expensive and time consuming. All the time I saved not sleeping and more is lost trying to sleep again. I have to quit my volunteer job delivering groceries to the housebound elderly because just like them, I’m always at the doctors. I never complain, though. Every night I do whatever trick I was taught that day and I try so hard to fall asleep. Sometimes I wear headphones and listen to hypnotists. I turn the volume way up to drown out the weeping in my parent’s room. I start to get scared for my mom because she’s so skinny. She has to wear only dresses because all her pants fall down, and she hates wearing dresses. She says that she doesn’t have an appetite. Whenever she sees me she cries, so I try to avoid her, but then she comes and finds and me, and she strokes my hair, and talks about what a beautiful baby I was. She shows up at school right before I’m about to take a chemistry test and tells me that I need to go home with her to get better but I won’t go with her. I’m doing amazing in Chemistry, and I’m worried that if I take the test late I’ll forget all the isotopes I learned the night before. We send my Mom to a home for people with worries. I want to go visit, but I’m not allowed. They call me a trigger. My dad takes my sister and I into his room and tells us that no matter what anyone says, it’s not our fault, but I really know that he’s just talking to me. He says that she has an illness and that no one can help that. It’s just bad luck. My sister cries a lot and then throws up on the carpet. I don’t say anything. I have my pick of any college. I know that I’m very smart, but I’m also smart enough to know that the fact that I’ve dealt with what’s considered to be major trauma as a young person helps my chances. I write an essay about missing my mom, and I have my sister bring it to her at the center. When the acceptances come in the mail, I choose Princeton because it’s close enough that I can keep an eye on my dad, who starts drinking before work as soon as my mom goes away. I call my sister from school and she says that dad got fired for showing up drunk to a staff meeting, and quit his publishing job to become a topiary artist.
I have a roommate who is depressed, and she teaches me how to become very depressed. We go to the campus convenience store and buy pints of rich ice cream and we eat them and talk sarcastically about everything that’s wrong with our lives. She tells me about how she thinks she might be a lesbian but isn’t sure if she really is one, or if she’s just never had sex with a guy and is using possible lesbianism as an excuse. She already knows that I don’t sleep, so I don’t have to tell her that. I do tell her about my mom, and my alcoholic dad, and she cries and hugs me, and admits that she was at first a little jealous because I got so much work done while she was sleeping, but that she doesn’t feel that way anymore. It’s my sophomore year and I fall in love. My depressed freshman roommate can tell immediately that I’ve entered a state beyond and she stops talking to me. I don’t care, because I’m in love. I don’t call it that immediately. At first I think that I’m having panic attacks because when I’m alone in my room, I can’t catch my breath and I have to talk myself down before I can get anything done. I spend a lot of time, especially late at night, just trying to breath normally. He’s a painter and we are obsessed with each other’s talent. I’m not sure what he thinks my talent is, but he’s certain that it’s there. He paints me lying down, on the quad, on the moon, and at an aquarium. I like being a muse. We make it clear to each other that our love is not simply about being enamored of another person’s talent, intellect, etcetera, but it’s a deep seeded need to be near the other person other all the time without having a reason. “There’s too much talent fucking around here,” he says. I nod. I think he loves me a little bit more than I love him, but its good that way. Everyone feels like he or she is getting the better deal, and it keeps things fresh and important. I want him to be happy, and I’ve never wanted anyone but me to be as happy as I want him to be. I won’t let myself hurt him. He paints a lot at night, and isn’t a huge sleeper anyway, so I only have to lay in dark and silence a couple nights a week. He’s always talking about how he didn’t get much sleep the night before and I can relate to that, and I say the same thing, and we bond that way. Being in love is the opposite of being depressed, and instead of eating ice cream on the weekends we go to parties in apartments where little photographers walk around trying to take Polaroid pictures of smoke rings. He watches how much I drink because he knows that my father is an alcoholic. It doesn’t annoy me because he enjoys taking care of me, and I know that I’m going to get drunk anyway. I have a couple whiskey and cokes and then I very subtlety flirt with someone else. It makes him want me so badly that he can hardly keep his pants on while we walk
home. Because he’s an artist-type, I expect him to be a rough lover, but he’s not. He nibbles the top of my ear and we claw at each other and giggle, pretending that we are lion cubs playing on the prairie. When he fucks me, he holds my face in his huge hands and tells me how beautiful I am. I want him to say something dirtier, but I don’t know how to tell him that. He’s sensitive. I love everything about him, but most of all I love his chest that is broad, and strong, with a healthy amount of coarse brown hair. I have a picture that my mom took when I was a baby, of little me sleeping on my dad’s chest, almost exactly like this chest, and he’s smiling up at the camera because he’s so happy that I’m there and that I’m safe, and that I’m me. And I’m just sleeping with a little bit of a smirk on my tiny face. After we have sex I re-create this picture, and I’m so relaxed that I tell him about it, and he understands, and we have another long talk about families, that ends with him falling asleep, and snoring. I listen to him snore for a while and then I wriggle away to do my economics reading with a flashlight until the sun comes up and we can have sex again. In the same year that my mom dies of worry, my sister marries a sports psychologist. The same people meet at the funeral and the wedding. They cry and say “poor girls,” in the fall, and then in the spring, they smile and say how proud my mother would be, and how beautiful everything is. At my mom’s funeral my lover keeps his hand on the small of my back, and he tells me that it’s not my fault, that she was a sick woman. He never met her. He doesn’t know anything. I’m not surprised that my sister gets married. She’s the kind of person who wants to make other people feel good. My tipsy dad trips down the aisle, and then he gets completely obliterated and makes a speech that references dinosaurs and Copernicus. He presents my sister and her new husband with a special topiary piece made for the occasion. I think it’s supposed to be a basketball player, but it just looks like a tree. I take my sister aside and lead her away from the crowd because I just want to look at her by myself for a second. I haven’t seen her in a long time. She cries because she wishes that Mom were here, and I hug her and tell her that somehow Mom is here, but I don’t really believe that. She doesn’t blame me for anything. It doesn’t even occur to her. I love her for not hating me, but it reminds me how little we have in common. She’s an easier person than I am. When we were kids I would call her stupid, but she’s not, she just likes things to be easy. I tell her that I’m sorry that I called her stupid when we were kids, that I’m not mad at her for not going to college, and that I promise to keep in better touch from now on, that I’ll come visit more.
My lover proposes to me after the wedding because he’s inspired by the pomp and circumstance. I say yes because I know that I can put it off for a couple years, if not a decade. My fiancé and I move to California because we think that’s the best place to go. He tries to sell paintings and I decide to become an inventor. I take classes in physics at Caltech and then I join a lab in the desert where I work long hours on a laser project. My fiancé starts to get tired a lot. He doesn’t want study all day and paint all night anymore. He also doesn’t want to get drunk and have silly sex until it’s morning. He works for an office catering company, delivering sandwiches during the day, and when he comes home he wants to smoke pot, eat the leftover sandwiches and fall asleep with crumbs in the bed. He wants me to do this with him, but I’m busy with the laser. I invite the people who work in my lab over for dinner and we drink wine out of nice glasses with mandolin music playing on the stereo. We eat fish from the grill and corn on the cob. I’m happy because my fiancé has a good time. He remembers what it’s like to be around people as 23 smart as himself. After dinner while I’m cleaning up, he kisses my neck and nibbles my ear, and everything feels just right. “I’m worried about you,” he coos. “I don’t think you’re getting enough sleep. Come to bed.” He says he wants to watch me sleep, and I tell him that I can’t sleep until he’s asleep. He says he wants to set up a video camera. I let him set up the video camera and we make a tape of us having sex, and then him snoring and me pretending to sleep. He wants to keep the video camera because he thinks he can use the images to make some kind of art, but I know he wants to spy on me. He keeps telling me he’s worried, and I start telling him how much I love him more often. It’s not a lie. I love him more than I could imagine ever loving anyone else. The laser is a huge hit at a major conference and I am celebrated as one of it’s leading inventors. I’m going to get a raise. Or I’ll start something new. Maybe I’ve finished with lasers. Maybe I’ll call my dad. He’ll be really proud. I stop on the way home from work and pick up a bottle of really nice whiskey, and a decadent little chocolate cake that says “congratulations.” My fiancé should be home waiting for me. I sit down on the sofa we picked out together and it feels cold. The video camera is gone, and I’m starting to get worried.
Sweatervest Spring 2009 editor
reading board Philippe Bronchtein Logan Brown Jarrett Dury-Agri Emily Feldman Sara Miller Amy Rapp Emily Raymundo Jessica Stevens Jacquelyn Wright
faculty advisor Robert Cohen
submit to sweatervest fall 2009 email@example.com