My lawyer died unexpectedly a few days ago. To most people, this probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But for me… he was a savior. He helped me during my divorce and all the years of restraining orders and court hearings and restraining order violations. He made me feel safe. He spoke for me when I was too afraid to speak. I talked to him on the phone last week. I cared about him, but he is gone.
Today I went fishing at the river with my husband. One side of the river is private property and the other side has a few places for the public. I couldn’t live by a river. I would never be able to sleep because of the fear of flooding. Its beautiful there, clean, serene, the usual. I say that because that’s what I’m supposed to say about nature. Honestly, I didn’t notice any of it. Anxiety has powerful blinding abilities.
The people across the river from where we go fishing blare religious music and gospel teachings, speakers facing right out into the river. I don’t know why they do it. I wonder if they hope that maybe the whole “teach a man to fish” thing will sink in, or maybe if they can convert just one, or they hope everyone will go away, or if someone falls in God will be watching over. Whatever, none of those things happened. We stayed and we didn’t teach anyone to fish and we still aren’t religious and we’re still going to die. Much of what people do is just background noise anyway.
I fell on the rocks and have some bruises mixed with a little blood, so I know I’m alive and I still look the same and I stopped thinking about death for a few minutes. While I sat there recouping, I noticed hundreds of empty water snail shells stuck in between rocks. I guess they are dead now too. I decided to put a few of the shells in my backpack to bring home. As I turned to reach my backpack, I saw a mouse standing on its hind feet. It looked at me, ’kinda bummed dude… those granola bars, dammit,’ I think it was thinking. It just walked away, it didn’t scurry, just walked away. I should have given it a snack to make up for all the times I’ve killed mice but that didn’t occur to me until it had disappeared. Maybe it went away slowly because it was sick or maybe it just wasn’t in a hurry. I like that idea, don’t hurry.
After the pain of falling had eased, I moved further up the river and had to climb over a pile of dead logs and branches. A single pink baby shoe caught my eye and I’m scared but it wasn’t attached to anything so I just remind myself to pick it up on the way out so I can throw it away and I hope it isn’t evidence.
I put a live worm on the hook and feel sad so I tell it, “I’m sorry and thank you,” and hoped that worms don’t feel or think. I went back to fishing, catching one on my first cast. Now it’s dead. I am happy and sad so I tell the fish “I’m sorry and thank you” and I wonder if fish think. I know they feel something because it flopped around on the ground and it’s eyes and face looked frantic until my husband killed it by bashing its head with a stick. A few minutes before, it was just doing its thing, swimming and eating and living and now it’s lying on the ground dead. It still looks the same except for the little trickle of blood coming from its gills.
I was uncomfortable now so I moved even farther up the river to get in the sun. Instead of another pink shoe, I see the skeleton of a small something and a quick image pops into my brain and my heart and my stomach switch places, but the image disappears when I notice a tail. It’s a dog. It still has some skin and fur, but mostly bones. I try to picture its feet with fur on them but I can’t. Now I am wondering and thinking about too many things and my heart is beating fast and I’m dizzy and panicked and I think I know how that fish was feeling and what it was thinking and I have to smoke a cigarette.
We didn’t catch any more fish so we left to find another spot. We came to a park and almost hit a woman who looked like a skeleton and she was stumbling and waving her arms and yelling. The park was everything a park is supposed to be except there were too many people that looked like the skeleton woman so we decided to go to the store to buy another fish for dinner. At the store, my husband and I do our usual ‘tag team’ shopping. He goes one way, I go the other, meet at the check out. Only this isn’t the store we usually go to and I’m sure that something is going to happen and I end up standing behind the deli case facing the door so I can be ready for the thing to happen. I can’t see my husband and I think it’s been about an hour and I’m sure he has finally decided I am too much and at least I have my phone and my wallet, or the something did happen and he is gone and I just didn’t notice. He finds me at the deli and knows so he holds my hand until we get to the car.
The drive home was also everything it was supposed to be except in my head, there is a videotape of accidents and skeleton woman being hit by cars and drowning babies and rotting dogs and suffocating fish and familiar faces in coffins and worms and mice and people that eat dead things and then become dead things and the soundtrack is God yelling at me because I am a sinner doomed to burn in hell. In the background I hear my husband saying something about where we should go next time and rivers and fish and do I like the song on the radio and it’s such a beautiful day and he is going to check the mail.
As we pulled into our driveway, a black crow sat on a fence post and watched us go by.
At home, everything is the same as it was when we left except for a bloodstain on my shirt.
(Image from Pinterest)