With purpose, relentlessly back and forth, the brush sweeps the grass cuttings from the flags, her hips sway: an afternoon garden dance. The pink rose by the door flushes an impatient hue, its energy sickle-scented mythic. In the sun she finds comfort in the wooden handle’s rotation, the narrow lines ribbed a thousand times, hands grooved to a familiar shape. The bottle on the hall table migrates from the liquor cabinet all on its own—she has nothing to do with that, she’ll later tell the guests. By then the cut blooms will have just the slightest wilt, the evening breeze blowing bedsheets billowed on the washing line’s threaded length. Perhaps she’ll act like a character in a Tennessee Williams’ play, all sweaty and inviting in her wrapper dress, the one with the gardenia blossom printed in waves, cigarette smoke into air, Van Cliburn on the gramophone. Perhaps.
She wakes undone, body bathed in sweat, bites from his mouth on her torso. She repeats the words: I am not afraid. I am not afraid. Frantic, she searches her body for the words, nowhere to be found. Her two eyes, glassed with tiredness, the rolls of sweat come off her in waves. The dream was terrible. Crashed through a windscreen. Broken body. Couldn’t survive. No way. Weary, she makes her way to the kitchen, moonlit and cold. She pours a glass of red, sips and attempts to decipher the maze of the dream. What if he strapped her lightly with his belt? She longs for structure, for order, for enlightenment. All the signs are there, the eye contact—direct and unnerving. A flood of energy, the way she hopes he’ll undress her, the way he works the lab, scientifically. For now, back to bed. and in the morning she’ll go to the local tattoo place. Intricate work, along the inside of the ankle, curved and slender as the willow tree.