Fiction ยท 03/04/2009


I suffer a reversed vanity. Clinical tendency to tend to every detail of how I prefer to be seen, which is not at all. Even by myself. If forced to glimpse my own face? I do so eyes closed. I can’t bare anything more than faint outline of lips or arched brown stretched across the inside of my lids. I ask the same of you: view me as a constellation of points, unconnected & forever floating in free space. I will do anything to maintain this image.

First, act impersonal as possible. If you turn your head to the right, I wish you to see the same thing as if you turned left: a person. No distinguishing factors. A person. If I light a cigarette, focus on the smoke, not my hand and mouth moving in unison. How quietly I exhale, silently I sit legs crossed like matchsticks. Why do you insist on staring? Oh the disservice of your invasion: studying my every gesture. Can we share a close moment? Can you ask my name? Your body is but a flicker to me. The bodies around me never do anything but flicker. An iridescent shimmer; magnificent yet identical. They shine: a kind of familiar nakedness. I blot them out by streamlining: a single ribbon of light. If that fails, I’ll separate myself completely, squeeze the length of the horizon between us. If successful, silence. A titanic alone.

Silence. Titanic alone. The obligations of interaction exhaust me. Interaction with you. Interacting with the inanimate objects of my apartment. A stack of dishes in the sink, the sink itself clogged with tea leaves. A clump of cat fur beneath the bed, tiny scraps of paper, a fine dusting. Perhaps if interaction required more silence. I wouldn’t stray, stave away. I would like to simply touch. Feel. Can you grant me this: silence? A silence tampered by touch alone.

The touch of my own hand is perhaps the greatest love act I experience. I didn’t want to bother you with my body; I can attend to it myself. In a room with closed door, no shut, slammed. A defiant smack, force so great the windows shake, split open. The sun so bright I draw the shades. Light through thin fabric: a room so softly lit it could be a dusk evening. I slip between the sheets. The sheets are warmed by the sun though the shades drawn & its dark as dusk in here. The heat still comes. Through any crack in surface. Beneath the covers, I feel myself; a kind of heat. I think nothing. Sometimes it hurts to be this silent. To imagine some scene would introduce a second party. I didn’t want to bother you.

Satisfying myself as such, I can sit in a room swathed with people. Utterly unaware of their surroundings, they become their surroundings, fixtures of the room itself. Watch as I sit barely seen on this deep-seated couch. I suffer no cravings, especially not the carnal sort. If someone happens to speak my name, touch me in the slightest way, it is out of their own volition. I never solicit.

I am proud of this image I have fashioned. My magic trick, slight of hand which is more a slight of body. Darling, I can slip here or there without you noticing. A held breath, skirt tucked between my legs: nothing ruffles, shuffles. If I try hard enough, I can cease to exist completely.

I desire a complete dead-out. Asphyxiation of hi hello, weak handshake, drive-thru bank tellers that blink or wink depending on their sex. Line at the grocery store, tabloid conversations can you believe that? No, not really. Turning off the road to get gas. The store manager with thin moustache your card says it’s declined. But that’s impossible. He shakes his head I’m not the fucking bank okay? Asphyxiation, a complete dead out.

I could make an exception, though. A boy, oh please, a boy. So slight of frame, the wind blows straight through him. So kind, I feel at ease. Funny things could start happening. In nature: a bloom. My home: a certain domestica taking shape. A prepared dish, kiss in the kitchen. Oh girl, listen – is that how quickly you loose your moorings? The obligations of interaction bore me.

They exhaust. Why I enjoy most my time: myself & I. Myself & I: we go to the movies. A matinee. Some Marlene Dietrich stiff beneath precise lighting. A pack of Twizzlers, buttered popcorn. I leave greasy fingerprints on the steering wheel. I turn onto one street then the next. The interstate. We roll down the windows, sing in the year of eighteen and one peggin’ shoes was all I done hand me down my peg, my peg and awl. A folk song. The history clung close to our bones. We dream hard: turn of the century girls; no, maybe we’re new deal babies. Dream all afternoon but dream only of specific times & places. Nothing carnal. No need to bring the boy oh please a boy into this. That was just a dream, though, of a different sort. No boy exists: slight of frame, so kind to oblige my can you just lay next to me a minute? No don’t speak. You’re ruining it. The moment browned, rotting at its edges. Let’s try this again: boy, you just lay there. Yes, like that. I sit on the edge of the bed, close my eyes, feel. I want to feel. Don’t speak. Let me feel at ease: steeped in myself, sealed off.

Elizabeth Hall recently relocated from Atlanta to Asheville where she works at an art gallery typing, filing, and staring out the window. For more information please visit