She sits in her car, crying while eating French fries. She looks around occasionally for co-workers. Glimpsing herself in the side mirror, she see salt all over her chin.
Doesn’t the baring of fangs look a little like smiling?
She closes her eyes, pictures her dog Lee-Lee snarling at the neighbor’s cat and thinks, yes, kind of. But baring fangs and smiling are two totally different events.
Home, she showers, scrubs her face. She eats ice cubes for dinner. Lee-Lee hops onto the couch, making a bed of her lap. She strokes Lee-Lee’s ashy fur while staring at the mural she began last week. In a manic state, she went to the art supply after work. It was a Wednesday. She usually does her strange things on Wednesdays, but not always Wednesdays. But it was last Wednesday when she bought hundreds of dollars in paint. Gallons of blues- Sky, Denim, Indigo, Electric, Periwinkle, Royal- and a couple of Eggshell. One gallon of Brick Red for contrast, for the little brooks of rage.
She studies what’s there. She is no longer interested in finishing, even as she sees the faces emerging. There she is, red cracks through the eyes of her flat, ideal self. He is there, smaller than her- not like real life. She painted him Sky and Denim. He is ghostly, faded, there. She painted him small- her private revenge. She’ll get more eggshell and erase them.
In the shower she smells bleach. She hasn’t cleaned the tub for at least a month. Where is it coming from? Her pores?
She dresses and lets Lee-Lee out for her morning pee. She envies Lee-Lee sometimes. The dog has all she needs- quality food, shelter, a warm lap for a bed, someone to pat her head and scratch her little pot belly. She has someone to speak her name out loud.
Flight 370 has sent its ghosts to dwell in her mind.
Did the sky gobble up their screams?
She checks the internet for updates. Satellite images found a large mass in the Indian Ocean, but investigators don’t believe it’s flight 370. She is relieved. She pictures the plane flying into some great brightness, and its passengers are flying forever. That they never knew anything before this great flight. There is no time. No destination. Just flight, and all the moments overlap and are one moment.
Or she pictures children snatched from their mothers’ sides by the greedy sky. They can’t cry because there’s not enough time between seconds. She sees men in carefully pressed suits sucked out from the plane- falling, falling- and still. Brains berzerking, death blitzkreiging.
It’s better not to know for sure.
She needs to buy some Black and Sunburst.
“Are you coming in today?”
She looks at the clock. It’s 9:37. “No.”
“I’ll say you called in, but this is a lot. Are you okay?”
She doesn’t shower. She puts on her paint clothes then opens the door to let Lee-Lee do her business. Lee-Lee is whining and jumping on her feet.
“Lee-Lee, go potty,” she says.
Lee-Lee settles at the tone of her voice, and subdues her jumps. Now they are prances instead. She walks out and Lee-Lee follows. Sometimes I’m scared to be alone, too.
Lee-Lee squats and takes a little shit and pees. She kicks grass over her waste with tiny hind-paws. She grabs a plastic bag and picks up the turds. She feels their warmth and gags.
“C’meer, Lee-Lee.” The dog trots past her.
She washes her hands. They are made of dry, stained skin. She needs to trim her nails. Paint underneath, and they look dirty. She looks dirty.
She whitewashes the faces but still sees them because she knows they’re underneath. But the plane is next and maybe that will help. She naps while the Eggshell dries. She dreams about her cell ringing and ringing. She looks for it, frantic. It’s important, but she cannot find the fucking thing. It stops ringing and she is awake- suddenly- with her heart blazing, body sweaty.
Dizzy, she pries open the Sunburst, the Winter Wheat, the Black. She is in the sky, looking at this intruder, Flight 370. The sky feels hungry, or generous, or merciful. The sky is many things. And there is the plane- small in the upper right corner of this mural, dull colors. She paints all day, stopping only to feed Lee-Lee or let her out. She paints until 5 AM, then calls Na and says, “I can’t come in today. I don’t feel well.”
“I hope you feel better soon. They’ve given your project to Corbin.”
“He’ll do a good job.”
“You’ll be out of a job,” Na says. “I’m your friend, you know?”
“If you need anything, okay?”
Now there is the sky with clouds which are big and billowy with a blush, as if they are embarrassed they can’t help what’s happening. And they look that kind of beautiful that makes her feel so tiny and meaningless, so lonely and wanting to cry. She painted those clouds. Here, she is God.
And there are forms, dark suit jackets mid-flap. She can almost hear the sound- the flapping and whoosh of air at hundreds of miles per hour in their ears. They are faceless. She can’t picture the horror that must have sculpted their faces as they dropped out of the sky- if that’s even what happened. No one fucking knows. But she is creating. She is creating death.
Why am I doing that?
She stands back and looks. The paint fumes are thick and she tastes them. She heads out back, Lee-Lee at her heels. The dog pees while she lights a cigarette. She can’t look at the painting for a while.