JOHN SAAVEDRA JR.
Student Voice Editor
Later – this must’ve been a couple years after because I was wondering how I’d survived and you think about that kind of stuff only after you’ve gotten yourself out of whatever mess you put yourself in – Lily was staring out of a snowy window, naked, when she said something that struck me: “You have no idea how often girls cry in the bathroom.”
I was sitting at my desk, also naked, trying to write a letter, although I can’t remember to whom.
“What do girls cry about?” I asked.
It hadn’t stopped snowing for two days, but we had enough bread, milk and cheese to last us for a while. These were the kind of days where you stopped worrying about the outside and tried to figure out how to put the cork back in the bottle. We were grateful for days like these.
“For example, we just made love and now you’re writing a letter to someone else. I’m going to cry about that,” she said.
I think the problem was that I didn’t understand her. I knew she had this short red hair that she liked to dye the color of fire. There were streaks of orange and blue criss-crossing one another. The flames on her head were hugging.
The way her fiery scalp stood in front of all the snow made the ice within my own body melt. And I guess that’s the point.
Lily made me melt all over the floor.
And now I had made her cry.
I saw a woman crying in a bathroom once and it was for good reason. Her name was Rose. A bull ran over her husband. Pushed him across a field like he was an empty shopping cart.
It was beautiful the way he flew in the air like that. Not flew. Floated. Like he were made of helium. His arms were spread out as he dove into an ocean of wheat.
“It looked like the Thanksgiving Day Parade,” Don said at the dead man’s funeral.
You’ve never seen something as beautiful as that. Nothing so sad as when they put that bull down. Ripped him open and all the red and white goo spilled out of him like a womb. The rancher that owned the bull shouted from across the field:
“I ain’t paying one cent. Not one. This was God’s work.”
They used that bull for meat. The steaks were delicious.
Rose was mourning her husband in the bathroom. She had these big, dead eyes like a zombie’s. Red make-up was smeared all over her face like blood. If Sophia had been around to see her, she would’ve made a watercolor.
“Hi Rose,” I whispered from a little crack in the doorway. She hadn’t closed the door all the way and we could hear her sobbing from the living room.
Rose looked at me and started crying even harder, but she opened the door all the way and let me watch her.
“You really loved him, huh?” I asked trying to fill the air with something other than Rose’s gasps. Maybe it was about comforting her, but I’ve never been good at that. All I am is a physical presence, a warm bag with a soul. I just know I don’t have the words to tell you “I love you.”
“Oh God,” Rose said.
I went in there and touched her shoulder, which was bare except for the strap of her tank top.
“You loved him,” I said. “You loved him.”
“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God, oh God, oh God.”
We both looked into the eyes of the dirty mirror above the sink. I saw white light leaking from her skin. It was heavenly inside her. If she could have housed me. If she could have birthed me. A mother loved that way. Not a wife.
“He loved you back,” I said.
I probably comforted her then. I probably looked like her husband.