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November 23, 2015

Twenty Failures

Ilana Masad

Twenty Failures photo

1. She told him to shut the window-slats. Every shred of light should be brushed away. She wanted to feel invisible.


2. Neither of them believed in the Ten Commandments, which made it easier. She cried after, and recognized the cliché she was becoming. They told her she glowed. He was just out of colthood, reeling. In public, they kept their sweaty palms clasped. It was perfect until it wasn’t.


3. He asked her to spend the night. She was flattered, so she did. Once was enough to convince her that she’d been right all along. Staying was a bad idea. He wanted to make her breakfast. How revolting.


4 & 5. Finally, she thought, surveying bodies before her. His and hers, intertwined, as she watches. Participates. Concentrates on the one, the she, finally. Finally, I’m living, she thought.


6. He lit candles in the garden for her. He bought her a book. He was in love. It was a hormonal kind of love. His talents lay in the display of niceness. As an art form, it was pretty limiting.


7. “You’re so smart,” was the standard compliment she got from her, forever thought of as Her. This was a first. Not “You’re hot.” Not “You’re awesome.” No. “You’re so smart.”


8. Snowstorms lead to weakness in the knees. Fear, too. Luckily, she avoided getting electrocuted. The lightning wasn’t all that bad, but there were exposed wires all over the place.


9 & 10. It started as a joke. It kind of stayed one that way. But as their hands clasped, she was down below, hearing the moans of another she, hearing “She’s really good, she’s really good, oh fuck, she’s really good.”


11. “I fancied you from the first time I met you,” she was told, but the teller, reminiscent of an actress long beloved, didn’t remember the first time, really, the time across the pond with the red hat and redder lipstick. Friendship allows for such lapses in memory.


12. She read once that if a woman sleeps with more than ten people, she’ll never get married. This fact was constantly in her mind, even though she wasn't into weddings. When she asked the rich boy what he had around his neck, he said “A crucifix.” “You’re Catholic?” “Sure.” The walls of the men’s room were so white.


13. It was supposed to be fun, like skipping stones across the surface of a lake. But they were precious stones. And they sank.


14. When a mind is that vast, she found out, it takes more than peering at it with a telescope. You need to be willing to take the space shuttle all the way, and by the time you’d get there, you’d be old and wrinkly.


15. She found a storytelling white girl, for a midsummer night’s dream.


16. She fell for an emaciated blood-stained queen who hadn't bled in months. She watched her burn at the stake like a witch and walk away alive. It should have been a miracle, but it was a tragedy. The queen moved on. She didn’t. Ever.


17. There was evidence of the breasted body against her own, long awaited, finally sated. A slightly duller knife. Scars. She hadn't been expecting the dragged out grief she would receive.


18. She figures she now has a couch in Germany and a story about magic. They still dream, somewhere, bottles of red and white wine open and clothes torn off, bodies so similar.


19. She was told there would be an electric toothbrush and other newfangled ideas. She wasn't exactly disappointed when there was nothing new about any of it. She realized he was kind of dumb. Her only reaction was "Oops."


20. He said “I’m not going anywhere.” He said “I’m sticking around for a while.” He said “We both know this is going to be something.” He said to himself “Don’t fuck it up.” He went back to Shreveport, Louisiana. “Let’s just say farewell,” he said.

image: Julian Vargas