“She’s such a fucking bitch,” he said to my mother, their backs to me as they leaned to each other, hard absorbed in the angles of sudden intimacy. They spoke round and clear, uncaring or unaware that outside night had fallen, that I could hear them, still, my body curled tightly in a thinly-sheeted cot encased in walls of glass. I listened carefully to rain.
Within the condo electric lights beamed broad and harsh, illuminating clear to the corners of things. The walls mirrored the bright spectacle of our interiors, beachviews obliterated by incandescence.
“She’s such a fucking bitch,” he re-iterated, hands parenthesizing the proclamation, his face a scene of shock despite five years of love shared between us, five years of my vagaries freely opened to his nuanced dissection.
I was a woman. My mother was my mother and my ex was my ex, a precise ex among many; another entered. My child was my child and this was his father. Baby’s daddy. Our child slept tucked tight in a cot against the wall, bared light illuminating his hair, the precise flash of October orange born by my ex-mother-in-law.
They colluded in a circle of couches- beach vacation! We came together, the room strewn already with grayed socks and damp towels; nights had already passed between us, days of our seaside smiles frozen in emulsion, trapped light-tight. The exes and my mother colluded together on couches draped with crumpled shirts, gritted with this morning’s sand; my mother patted tense knuckles and massaged stiff shoulders as they determined which ex would fuck me when, a recorded schedule precisely equilibrated to suit their competing pleasures.
I turned from them, still, hot cheek-flesh pressed hard against black glass. I could see, outside, a boardwalk, a mother and child facing the sea. They both wore white; the wind picked up; the flesh of their bodies and the folds of their clothing glowed blue, eerie luminescent whipping in the wind, but still and steady burning. I could see no moon. The mother watched the blackening horizon intently, holding tight her bare-headed infant to the bones of her breast.
“So, y’all think this would work? Liam, you get all day Wednesday, and Jon, you get Thursday afternoon and Friday morning?”
They turned to me, the mother and child, haloed in wild hair, cold light. The child stared to me as children do, yet with intent; the mother turned again to the horizon, again to me. Steadily she held me, my gaze, steadily she held her child; she held her child tight. Water broke from the sky in torrents.
Water encased the walls in wails. I leapt from the cot and gathered my child to me; I wrapped his body in mine; his sternum, his pulse, the sharp and slender of his wrists and knees; I breathed the copper of his hair, his skin hot-damp, still, with sleep; I gathered him to me; I held him; I held him tight. Glass and darkness broke around us, the wind whipped in.
I am going to say this briefly and carefully. I had this dream some nights ago. I know the mother from the dream- I saw her first when I was 20; I saw her first when I conceived. I saw her again when I transitioned, and again after the rape in a nightmare, a crone wrapped in white. I call her Llyncilla. The last syllable of my last name is the first syllable of hers.
My mother has a terminal illness. For nine years there has been no change. This week she saw the cardiologist.
Now there is change.
Now there is change.