Notes: Another fragment from the Glum Estate. This one is obviously much shorter. It’s been almost 5 years since I worked on this but I assume I intended this fragment to go on longer. — Erik
On the plane for too many hours listening to a deliberate mix of obscure Canadian indie rock music on a cherry red sliver of an MP3 player, the youngest, Marlow, Lowey, the wunderkind rolled it over again and again; Mom’s dead. It became her mantra. “Please fasten your seat belts.” Mom’s dead. “Would you like a beverage?” Mom’s dead. Mom’s dead. Mom’s. Dead.
Lowey drew hanged men on the white space of her airline branded barf bag. She drew little “x”s for the eyes. Mom’s dead. She asked for just ice, please. She chewed frozen blocks, breaking them to a crushed pulp and swallowing them, still sharp. Mom’s dead. She squirmed in her seat, looked out the window.
One of the stewardesses said, “excuse me – I think I follow you on Twitter.” She could have been Marlow’s mother. Most of the women on the plane could be her mother. Lowey thanked the stewardess for her dedication and asked if she could please have a small bottle of Stoli and some more ice. The stewardess paused. “How old are you again?” She asked. The stewardess had crow’s feet. She covered pock marks, blemishes and old acne scars with a spackle of foundation just slightly too dark to blend in to her face. Lowey shrugged. “Spirtually?” Lowey gave the stewardess the barf bag.
“This is really yours?” The stewardess asked excitedly. Lowey asked for two bottles of Stoli, please. Hurry.
It was Whitman on the phone. “Lowey, I’ve left you twenty messages,” he told her on the phone a half dozen hours earlier.
“I do things, Whitman,” Lowey explained. She was standing naked in the studio. She had painted her left nipple yellow. She had thrown a handful of mixed color every few minutes onto seven carefully arranged epoxied fast food fish sandwiches.
Lowey imagined the words would eventually lose any semblence of meaning. She imagined that she would forget the placement of the phone against her cheek when Whitman told her, the smell of the paint, the texture on the tips of her fingers, the distant grumble of her empty stomach that had nagged at her since she encased the fish sandwiches in plastic. It would take days or weeks or months. A million Mom’s dead. But then she would forget it. They would just be words.
“You need to come home, Lowey,” Whitman told her on the phone back in her studio. “We need to come home.”
Lowey hung up the phone. She dropped it. She sprayed down the rainbow colored plastic enshrined fish sandwiches with lighter fluid. She dropped a match. Dark smoke rose, the scent toxic and revolting. Then the alarm screamed and sprinklers showered her. She washed the paint from her breast. She ran her fingers through her short hair. She let her head hang down from the weight of water. It was cold and turned her skin to gooseflesh. She held out her arms wide as if to accept an embrace. The flames smoldered. The smoke slowed to wisps. The water stopped. She stood in an inch of paint muddy water. Marlowe Glum shivered. Mom’s dead.
On the plane, headed across country from light to dark, back in time zones, with her MP3 playlist and her two bottles of Stoli and her ice, Marlowe wondered why she hadn’t cried at all. She wondered why the feeling had been like a cold sucking emptiness, a black hole opened in her heart. She wondered when it would feel real. She wondered when it would stop. She thought in words and in colors. She felt numb. Mom’s dead. Was it supposed to feel different? Mom’s dead. A koan. A prayer without ceasing. A post traumatic shock.
The captain put the fasten seatbelt sign on. They announced that it was time to turn off all portable electronic devices. Lowey pretended she hadn’t heard. She closed her eyes and turned up the volume. The barf bag stewardess, the Twitter follower, crow’s feet, shook Lowey’s shoulder.
“Please,” Lowey told her. She felt tears seeping out, uninvited. “Please don’t,” she said. “I need it.”