Bent Words

Bent Words

March 27, 2007

Footprints on the Ceiling


On her knees, doubled over, her forehead heavy on the ground, saliva sliding out of the corners of her open mouth, she screamed. A loud, guttural scream which was more muddled by anguish than by the carpet pressed to her aching lips.

“Why?” she screamed, “why me?”

She clenched her fists to her abdomen and continued to scream, never pausing to consider the tenants living below her who must have wondered what in the world was making that awful sound. That horrible scream like a screeching animal being torn to shreds before the final deathblow.

Than came the choking. At first, she was merely choking on her words but then, as she began to rock her forehead back and forth over the floor, she was heaving over the dreadful images which poured like a deluge through her mind. Without attention to sequence they came, one by one, overlapping, flashing like photographs over a muddied white screen.

There he was, smiling uncontrollably over a silly remark she made. His head cocked slightly to one side the way it always seemed to be when he was caught off guard or listening, arms crossed, to someone with a point to make. Then, he was kneeling in the wet grass, not caring that his pants were soaked and stained, eagerly attending to the maintenance of a lawnmower which would not be employed for another day or two, until the grass was dry. She could hear his soft and weaving, echoing words; “Just getting a jump start on Old Faithful, here.”

More images, more smiles, more unexpected moments came flooding to her eyes. She squeezed them shut, tighter still, hoping they would dissipate just long enough for her to catch her breath, to suck in much needed air, to stop sobbing into the floor. If only she could have explained to the neighbors beforehand that she was going to have a nervous breakdown, if only she could tell them that she needed to get it out – whatever this was.

She rolled over onto her back, slowly, eyes glued shut and yet somehow the tears still escaped. Her fingers pinched her sides and her mouth was still a gaping O of sorrow. Lesser moans of anguish now exiting the depths of her throat.

Taking the chance of opening her swollen eyes, she caught a glimpse of the ceiling. How this could procure more images from her memory was unforeseen and then, suddenly, there it was. How he used to sweep her up in his arms, his tall frame and strong arms capable of handling her like a doll – how she used to love that, being tall herself, made to feel so small for a change. Her long legs outstretched, they would sometimes reach the ceiling and, there it was, for all unprepared eyes to see, the footprints on the ceiling.

“Just because she climbs the walls, and sometimes the ceiling, doesn’t mean my girl’s crazy!”

She felt crazy now, now that she was choking on her own saliva, her chest rising and sinking violently despite her fast wrapped arms.

Onto her side, hoping the piercing pain from her stomach would subside, clutching blindly for an object to stabilize her panic. The square leg of the coffee table which she couldn’t wrap her fingers around. The lack of conformity, even with something so simple, drove her deeper into her sadness.

And there he was. Standing in the frame of the doorway. Standing tall against shadows and light as though the cancer had not won, a hand on one hip, his head cocked to one side perhaps contemplating the reason for his lover’s fetal position. He stood there, silent, blinking. He continued to stare as well did she – each wondering what in the world the other was doing.

“But… you’re dead.”

“And I thought you were still alive.”

Written at 10:29 p.m.