Wednesday, December 14, 2005

preservation (an untruth)

There's something I've got to say. And my interrogator waits. He waits for this something just as I do. He waits and grows impatient, waits and grows antsier just as I do. He sits across the table from me in this tiny room with the acrid air. He sits opposite me with his arms crossed before him on the rotting wooden table just as I do. There's something I've got to say. We both know it, but neither of us knows what the something is yet. But I've got to say it.

The chemical nature of the smell takes me back to my time in Darfur. And my work there. And the time that dog with three legs led me back to that beautiful deaf girl. Sweet and kind. Seemingly. Generous, having let me stay in her parent's guest room for awhile, allowing me a break from the detachment. She was all of these things - for a time. That summer, I spent my free hours learning sign language so that I might get to know her on a deeper level, only to find that she was irreparably crazy, hated me, and wanted me to leave her parent's house immediately. To this day, I'm stuck with the knowledge of this language - this useless chunk of data taking up precious memory - to remind me.

My interrogator waits. And beyond the darkened doorway behind him, there are the shuffling steps of the others who also wait. Kicking up dust, they wait for my words, wait for me to speak. They grow restless. The irritable furrow of my interrogator's dark brow reminds me of a little trip I took to Papua New Guinea. And my work there. And the look on the face of my mistress's father right before he chased me out of the house and down the street with an axe. It was the first time I'd been chased by someone who really, truly, wanted to kill me. It's a feeling that I will not soon forget.

Finally, I say it: "I really loved her."

I say it, and as I do so, I can feel the tension in the room break. Gasps from outside the room, from beyond the threshold of that darkened doorway. My interrogator's stony face breaks into a grin, I'm clapped on the shoulder with a giant hand, and he says something, loudly, in a language I don't understand. There are cheers. There is applause.

"I really think I loved her."

I've been trained to choose my words carefully.

No comments:

Post a Comment