Friday, August 13, 2010

“Deconstructed” by Aarti Soni

And I want my father to be here with me, here in this place.

I'm cold and hungry and alone. I'm used to being alone because I always leave first. My father used to tell me when I was younger - it's the ones who get left behind who feel the sadness. They sense the absence when they wash the fork you used to plunge into the obligatory lemon cake or when they launder the dirty towel that smells like your pomegranate citrus shampoo. They feel the void staring at the indented cushion where you sat as we looked through old photographs, giggling at past hairstyles, re-living nights out with precise inaccuracy, and pausing appropriately at objective moments of nostalgia, carefully residing in a tin of British butter biscuits.

My father always told me to be the one to leave. I miss him now, drinking in one of the only dewy droplets of parenting he ever bestowed upon me, and forgetting that for most of my life, he left me thirsty.

But when you survive on fantasies like I do, such revisions are permitted. In fact, they are encouraged, lest we all stop to recount the voids in our lives. That would be too tragic - but we do it so we can provide the prelude to our own failures. To which, of course, we are destined as a clear and obvious result of said voids.

I like to abandon things. I was in control, just like my father. And I learned to leave without justification, because somehow that seemed mysterious and left them wanting more. By the time I left home, I had mastered the art of making people long, feeding them my attention with an eyedropper, and then towards the end, with a syringe.

Instead of speaking, I ate my words - I drowned them in rich sauces to make them more palatable and I washed them down with sugary spirits to help me digest.

Today, my first full day here, we had tacos, but they were deconstructed. I stared at my plate not knowing how to arrange my meal. I was never any good at knowing the proper order of things. I realized that I had been grinding my teeth again - burning them into a narcotic powder I imbibed as I slept. I feared that I would lose my sense of taste and the rugged chunks of meat and fried shell would all bear the same taste for me.

My father should be here. Here in this place. The shredded cheddar cheese and lettuce go together, orange, green, orange, green, orange, green, then red. A tomato. I should eat before they clear the plates. But I am still so parched.

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