Yes, this is very beautiful, very quiet and effective, it slowed down the day, find a way back to her home, to her real life that was somehow going on without her, the enumeration of those things, the way this rational person is examined from the outside both abstractly and concretely, what this rational person would do.
Many of the usual suspects are piled on my nightstand, Airships and Nightwork, Jim Shepard and Jennifer Egan, but I took some time last night to read “Remove Yourself.” My reaction this morning is the same as after my immediate reading: Damn, Catherine, that is one friggin’ outstanding story. I look forward to following the links and reading more of your work.
Things were better – a lot better: I was masturbating again.
Okay; not “a lot” better.
But I could hear the difference between ‘danceable’ and ‘racket’ again. Food I like tasted better than food I don’t, much, to the degree that I was seeking food I like out again. That fist around my heart had mostly opened for most of each day.
I was reading an article about western China, about blond- and red-haired “mummies” – were they really mummies? and not just buried in conditions that preserved them? – and modern-day Turkic-speaking Muslims. I’d been reading undistraught for weeks at that point; I was worrying about money and denying mortality in routine ways. There was a qualitative uptick in things, I could say again with proud self-deprecation.
The phone rang.
“Hello. Hello?” I said, neck and wrist switching to hangup angles.
“Brendan.” The timbre and lilt opened my adrenal sluice-gates, as they had done, to no devastating effect, since I’d first listened to them.
She said it was her.
I grunted, which had not been my default question mark before several months earlier, and stopped glancing and waited for my eyes to focus on her voice.
“I went to another country.”
Well, “That much I had figured out.” – a lie I needed rather than wanted to tell.
“I should have told you.” – there was too much insufficiency.
I was ready to ask that, but I’d prepared myself to ask this question after copious rehearsed conversation, after a pinched-nozzled subsidence of confusion and grief and rage.
I could next hardly believe that I heard “Well, what?”
I think I asked reasonably enough what she had to say, but what she had to say was “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know.”
“I’m not sure.”
I turned then completely to what pierces me now:
Well, if it’s all the same to you, I’m going to get back to work now. The next time you call, you might want to have something to say. and the line *clicked* dead and eventually, the dial tone came on, and later, that went dead, too.
And I gently hung the phone up and stepped swaddled in air and light back to the table and sat mechanically down, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Province again remote. I was already her “first marriage” again.