Meg Tuite ~ There’s No Tomorrow the Same As Yesterday

Mothers and fathers lean in door­ways to keep any­one from for­get­ting them. What hap­pens when a per­son­al­i­ty can’t find its way back? Let’s say I promise to look for myself in the con­cerned or dep­re­cat­ing glances of oth­ers. Dread fil­ters through the clipped words lost in dwin­dling lung space. A whirlpool of defi­ant air is rav­en­ous and ter­ror­izes the mind which wears the fab­ric of the intestines which now zigza­gs fear through the fur­ni­ture.

Inside one house a father helps his son with his vocab­u­lary list. He then heads out to an apart­ment three streets away. The girl phoned him last week to fix the bath­room win­dow latch. She lives alone. He’s a lock­smith. He nev­er gets to that, but is able to climb through the tiny enclo­sure, put on his ski mask and rape the girl. When he arrives home his wife is up. They watch Cold Case Files. She enjoys the creepy stuff. She cocoons her­self under a blan­ket with him and can’t believe the shit peo­ple go through.

Kid walks home. Kids walk home. Over and over, short­cut, yes short­cut. Small town, neigh­bor­hood, nowhere. “She was still alive at the time,” he says. “I thought it was a man­nikin. Two legs stick­ing up out of a fire.”

The kid’s body and hair were washed,” she said. “Her note­book and school­books were placed neat­ly next to each hand, as though she would pick them up at any moment.”

The detec­tive takes down notes from the offi­cers in charge. She stud­ies the bod­ies as they line up in her mind at night. Twenty years have dimin­ished yet she will nev­er for­get the shad­ow that split his face in two. A gut­tur­al “Shut the fuck up and you won’t get killed,” spit at her through a spec­i­fied bass of voice. She starts shak­ing at the super­mar­ket from the cussing of a ran­dom man behind her or two men sud­den­ly argu­ing on the street.

Body lan­guage is stacked against him. He unlocks his arms, puts his palms up on his knees and spreads his legs. His lungs let out a deep breath. Cameras are belch­ing above him. He’s not a damn idiot. Learn to plank the side­walks as if some­one is always watch­ing. That’s what he knows. The two detec­tives are play­ing hand­ball. Let’s assume he is the ball in between. A smile, a shrug, or an “I don’t recall,” are his respons­es to their slaps. Until they say her name. It’s been over a decade. He’d stuffed her in a bar­rel and left her in a stor­age space. “Let’s take a dri­ve,” they say. His hands clench.

She doesn’t go to con­certs any­more. There’s a gen­er­al avoid­ance of any place that might jam peo­ple in. Sometimes she goes nowhere for weeks. Forgotten in a city is as sim­ple as a month of not return­ing phone calls or texts. Tolerance has a short fuse. It’s a mas­sive his­to­ry of repeat track­ing itself over and over in the anni­hi­la­tion of san­i­ty. She’s been to ER and Rehab. Nobody believes her. She opened the door. She let them in. She doesn’t have any vis­i­ble scars and they made her wash her­self before they left. The only tri­al that ever tran­spired is in her head. The unbe­liev­ing faces of her mom and sis­ter haunt her. The detec­tives nod a bit too often as they write down notes.

And yet, in the dark on cer­tain nights, she hears those grunts again as they tear her apart. The acid-raw ache in her throat and between her thighs slice into a sharp­ened knife inside her. She can still feel the vio­lent weight of their chests on her body.

And then, some­times, when the pre­cious light of morn­ing is slant­i­ng through her apart­ment, lay­er­ing the fur­ni­ture and rugs in an exquis­ite sheen, she isn’t even sure what exact­ly hap­pened.

~

Meg Tuite is author of four sto­ry col­lec­tions and five chap­books. She won the Twin Antlers Poetry award for her poet­ry col­lec­tion, Bare Bulbs Swinging. She teach­es at Santa Fe Community College, is Senior Editor at Connotation Press, Associate Editor at Narrative Magazineand Fiction Editor atBending Genres.  http://megtuite.com