Monday, April 9, 2012

“Ortigia” by Michelle Reale

We promised each other we would work on ourselves. First. He went fishing like he always did. I wanted to record every day life. I felt like I was missing so much since we decided to live together. There was only one window. The walls were pink and damp though the heat outside left every thing brown and crackling. I couldn’t reconcile the two.

I set up the video camera. I wanted to see what the little house looked like as I went about my every day life. I did everything from the inside out.

He surprised me when he came in. He hadn’t been gone long. He held a shiny black trash bag. His stomach was protruding through his orange t-shirt. I thought of the fuzz below his navel. How I longed to stroke it, but knew that and other things were off limits for a time.

What have you got there? I asked, even though I knew, because who doesn’t like to let their own narrative unfold?

He laid the bag on the floor then pulled out a bundle wrapped in an old flannel. Unrolled it gently. I saw the blood, first. Then I recognized the flannel.

Tell me, I said.

First he talked about how the line snapped. Then, how the fish kept leaping out of the water, banging into one another. How they threw themselves against the boat and seemed disoriented.

Bloody hell, I said, but felt excited anyway.

But, he said.

I waited.

He held both of the nearly navy blue fish in the fist of his left hand. He was sweating. He looked into the camera. Is it on? He asked.

I nodded, stepped into view, and provocatively adjusted the straps of my red bra. I imagined he would find it an interesting gesture when we watched together later on. The fizzy wine was cold and I desperately wanted a glass.

Shut it off, he said. His breath was rapid and choppy. I thought of the ocean. We were only a few feet away from an ancient sea wall. I heard the waves breaking.

He was rooted in place. Only his eyes were moving. I pried his fingers off of the squashed tail fins of the gleaming, speckled fish and set them side-by-side on the table.

I tip-toed in front of the camera. Complied with his wishes.

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