by Edison Blake
Though life is short, a single day can be endless. More than time enough to scratch out a few words – twice. First scratch blood from my skin then scratch letters, wet and red, onto our bleached pine floor.
It’s all about weight loss. Not so much for me: for Mark. Beautiful, unselfish Mark. Steadfast lover. Remaining gorgeous as I became a grotesque, bloated caricature of a man. If he noticed he never spoke of it or seemed to care. His affection for me never wavered. The perfect partner for an imperfect man.
I tried the Eat-Nothing-But-Bananas Diet; now I hate bananas. The Only-Cabbage-Soup-For-Every-Meal Diet sent my friends reeling for gas masks. The Wrap-Yourself-In-Saran-Wrap-And-Melt-Pounds Diet died the second day, suffocated in sweat-slimed sheets of plastic wrap.
Web guru, Dr. Wegner’s plan used simple subjugation. “Your appetite is like a stray cat. Feed it, it comes back; starve it, it goes away.” He prescribed a four day fast to break its back.
I couldn’t see surrendering dollars and dignity, a fat farm drama queen, a whiny diva begging food from clinically detached nurses paid handsomely to starve me.
Mark was away, gone again for several weeks, a geologist doing field work for an oil company. I made my plans and let him know: When you land, come straight from the airport to our little cabin in the Wisconsin woods. Hurry, Love.
Secluded, in the off-season. Très Romantique!
And here I am. Four days before Mark’s scheduled return.
I did the purge thing: saline enemas and ex-lax. I can be good for a day. I just lack will power; it decreases as my weight increases.
In front of me a stack of books. To one side a case of bottled water, to the other a selection of newly purchased brightly-lidded plastic containers. “My library. My hydration station. My waste storage facility.”
I handcuffed myself to the heavy iron grate cemented into our fireplace. Spring’s warmth left no need of a fire. I tossed the keys across the room. They landed on the counter beside my cell phone. Synchronicity: the cell buzzed, vibrating with an inbound call.
A minute later the land line chimed. Our answering machine picked up: Mark. “Hi. Tried everywhere. Left a long message on your cell. Listen to it when you’re alone. It’ll make you blush. I miss you.” Pause. “Anyway. A new assignment came through. I’m being diverted to Alaska of all places. We’ll celebrate when I get back. We’ll go to Antonio’s for the Cacciucco. None of your diet nonsense, you’re already thin as a whippet.” Pause. “Anyway. Soon. Two weeks. Three max. Love you.”
Time so short and every day so Goddamn long. I’m not exactly running out of blood. But I have run out of things to write, coming up with nothing more than something my nephew, the novelist, said when I teased him to write about me. “There was a man. He lived. He dieted. The end.”
published 11 May 2011