Rachel left the apartment this morning in tears. She was looking in the mirror, trying to put her hair up into some kind of a French twist and she kept stabbing at her head with bobby pins and swearing. At one point she muttered “Goddamnit,” the bobby pins she had gripped with her teeth falling onto the floor, and making her even angrier and more frustrated. I felt awful for her. Her face was all splotchy and damp.
But I know it wasn’t really her hair that got her so upset; it’s that Dimitri. The minute I saw that Greek bastard I knew he was bad news. He didn’t take off his boots, and he slushed up the whole floor. Who does that? And he’s a stomper. He walks so heavy that he shakes the whole place. Have some respect, guy. It’s an apartment building. You’re not crushing grapes with your feet in a vat down by the Acropolis.
He’s a brute, a savage. Rachel deserves so much more. What could she see in a man like that? She’s lovely, she’s surreally lovely. She plays the cello; she’s cultured and sensitive. She watches classic movies and makes stove popcorn from scratch with real oil in a Dutch oven. She never uses those terrible microwave bags with the carcinogenic chemicals in them. She’s an original. She should be treasured.
After she left for work, I was going to go out for some food, but then a roach crawled out from someplace so I had to deal with that first. He was roaming all over the fruit bowl. It was disgusting. “Not today, pal,” I told him. “We don’t need that, we don’t want that and we’re not putting up with it. Not here.” I said that right to his face, I honestly did. I hung around for a while to make sure he wasn’t coming back and then I went up to the third floor to try and find a snack. Those girls from Loyola always leave stuff just lying around. It’s not the best, but it checks the box. They’re not health nuts, I’ll put it that way. Not health nuts at all.
Rachel stayed in and did laundry tonight. She kept running over to check the machine every time she came up from the basement, but there were no messages. I suppose she’s hoping Dimitri will call. Personally, I hope he gets lost and stays there. She dropped a sheet of fabric softener while she was folding up the clothes, so I went ahead and snagged it. My old one had lost all its scent so that worked out OK for me. Rained all day.
I think I got ahold of some bad chicken this afternoon. All day I felt like I was just off. I fell asleep late in the afternoon and had these terrible dreams. I dreamt my teeth were stuck together with tree sap, and I couldn’t pry my jaws apart no matter how hard I tried.
I dreamt Rachel smashed her cello with a hammer, and pieces of it flew all over the place – under the refrigerator, under the bookcase – just these sharp shards of wood spraying out in every direction and this terrible crunching twanging sound.
When I woke up she was coming home with Dmitri. They were pawing at each other and pulling their clothes off. They wound up down on the rug together. I tried not to listen, but you sort of can’t help it. I imagine they’d been to a happy hour. Their breath was so boozy I could smell it a mile off. Poor Rachel. He was practically crushing her beneath his massive body. I’m sure he shed his stupid chest hairs all over, and now she’ll be stuck vacuuming that up.
After he was finished he took out a marijuana cigarette, and they smoked it together. The smell of it made me feel even stranger than I had before. They played a bunch of tapes and stayed up talking until real late, and then he took her keys and said, “Thanks babe.”
He always takes her car. Dimitri is a taker. Take, take, take. But what does she get out of it? When’s it her turn to take? After he left she crawled up on the couch and fell asleep watching TV. She never even washed her face or got into bed. Is that happiness? Is it human connection? I don’t understand.
Rachel’s friends Kim and Tracey came over tonight. They’re throwing a party for their other friend Leah because she’s getting married. I don’t like these girls; they’re very bossy, and they’re always spilling their wine when they come over. Kim kept trying to tell everyone they needed to try this crazy diet where all you eat is bacon and, I don’t know, other meats. Rachel doesn’t need a diet. She’s perfect the way she is and Kim should know that. Besides which, Rachel keeps kosher.
Tracey said that if she hasn’t gotten married by the time she turns 30, she’s going to throw herself off the Sears tower.
After they’d gone, Rachel changed into her pajamas and got out her cello. She rosined the bow and then she played for a long, long while before going to bed. The music simply transported me. I imagined myself floating down a gentle river, borne by the water and the breeze. I am a leaf, a twig, a pine needle. I am a blade of grass.
Dimitri was supposed to take Rachel out for dinner tonight, but he never turned up. She got into the shower and just sat there on the floor of the tub until the hot water ran out. She wrapped up in a robe and made some hot tea and then just sat around, not really drinking it. She fell asleep early and so did I. A long time later he was banging on the door of the apartment, and she stumbled out in the dark to let him in. She didn’t speak. Neither did he. She just took him by the hand and led him back to her bed without saying a word.
When I was sure they were asleep I crawled into his loafer and pooped right in there, right in the toe. I’m not proud of it, but it felt good. It felt like justice.
Rachel has been gone all weekend. I do not know where she has gone or when she’ll be back. I ran back and forth across the floors all day yesterday, just because I could. But now I’m bored and worried for her. Someone keeps calling and hanging up when the machine answers. There are five Chinese takeout menus that’ve been slipped underneath the front door and a pamphlet for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the cover of the pamphlet it says, “When you pray, who listens?”
Woke up this afternoon to find that Rachel had come home early. She had fallen asleep on the couch with her shoes and coat still on. Her hair was splayed out across the cushion like a waterfall. I watched her chest rise and fall until the room grew shadowy. Eventually a police siren startled her awake and she sat up with a start, looking for a moment or two as though she had no idea where she was. She swiped at the corner of her mouth with the back of her hand and then she lurched off to the bathroom.
It feels like it might snow.
Just hung out.
I think that Rachel may finally be finished with Dimitri. Hallelujah! He called earlier tonight, but she let the machine get it.
“Babe, pick up. Rachel! I know you’re there. Pick up, OK? Look… I… you gotta give me a chance to make up to you right? How I’m gonna do that if you don’t answer the phone? Whaddaya want me to say, huh? OK, how about this: Everything you do is perfect, and everything I do is shit. That it? RACHEL. All right, forget it. Lookit, I’m going to the Dells this weekend with Tiny and those guys; maybe I’ll meet up with you when I get back. If you want to talk to me you can beep me. RACHEL. Last chance! All right babe. We’ll talk later, I guess. Hopefully by then you won’t have your bitch hat on anymore. KIDDING! All right, have a good weekend I guess. Peace.”
Rachel left the apartment so early today, while it was still dark out. It was a bitterly cold day, the wind just blew right through you. After a few hours she came back with a big bag from the drugstore and a pizza from Amore. Her friend Leah was with her. Leah uses a lot of coarse language for a kindergarten teacher. I heard her say, “Fuck those people and their disgusting signs. I was ready to punch that screaming guy right in his dick if he got any closer to us. Guess he’d like to send us back into the alleys with coat hangers.”
I guess Rachel must be sick because she was in the bathroom for a long, long time. Leah tucked her in on the couch, brought her water and pizza and some pills and put everything near her on the coffee table. No one was talking very much. Eventually Leah went home. Afternoon bled into the evening but Rachel never turned the lights on or ate any of the pizza. She just kept staring at nothing. Finally I could hear that she was crying. It went on for a long, long time.
My heart was bursting for her. I could see that she was hurting and I just wanted to do something, anything, to make it go away. I don’t know if it’s Dmitri or being sick or her hair or just the deep pain of being human. I can’t fathom it no matter how much I long to understand.
I wish I could scurry right up the leg of the coffee table and walk right into her line of sight and say everything aloud to her. I would crawl as close as I could to her face so she could take in my whole self, and I hers. In my imagining, she doesn’t startle or flinch or reach for something with which to hit me. In my imagining, she recognizes me as a kindred spirit, not as a creature who could ever or would ever do harm. She would know me instantly as her true friend.
How I wish I could give voice to the thoughts and the feelings I’ve contained inside this tiny body for so long. Words. Just flimsy soundless words are all that I have, and at the same time all that I will never have. Rachel. My lovely Rachel. Could you meet and hold my gaze? Could I ever let you know? Could you ever see me, truly see me, for what I am?