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September 20, 2006 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-20

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The Michigan Daily Wednesday, Septenber 20, 2006
SHO)RT FICTION AND PCIET1

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The Empty Bed

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 -The Michigan Daily
QUOTES OF THE WEEK 'Are you kidding? I've been
waiting for this war for 10
((If Ward Connerly can years. I wouldn't miss it for
turn it back into a the world!"

ohn gave Susan's hand a final
squeeze, trying to feel her
grip again. He wasn't sure if
her last pulse of strength on
his hand was dramatic enough to
be stored in the long-term memo-
ry bank. His memory was already
bad, and now he had to remem-
ber something he had barely felt.
He'd better write it down. Record
it before it's lost. He kissed her
forehead. Not soft enough to be
the young, silky skin she used to
have, but still nice. Like the feel-
ing of a comfortable, worn-in
baseball mitt.
He sat down in his big green
chair beside her bed. Susan's death-
bed. It wasn't natural to call it that.
She had spent many years living,
many good times in that bed. He
remembered all those nights she
woke to tell him about her dreams.
Those lively dreams that made him
laugh and tease her about her sanity.
Once, Susan had dreamt that they
were forced to defend the bedroom
from dinosaurs. She had woken up
and thrown herself across his belly,
calling out, "Stay back, you reptiles
from hell!" No, definitely not her
deathbed. She had too much life
to now be labeled as dead. He sat
beside her lifebed.
Leaning slightly over the arm-
rest, John wondered if the creaking
noise was coming from the chair
or his own arthritic joints. The
drawer was just within reach and
he pulled out the bottom notebook.
He creaked in return to sitting as
upright as his back would allow.
He let himself crumple way back
in to his chair, watching the dust
particles rise up around him. She
hadn't cleaned in quite some time.
He watched her lay so peacefully
Mt that he began to envy her seren-
ity. He had never slept that peace-
fully. He wrote this in his journal.
Details, details were important.
If he could just remember every-
thing about her, record every detail,
maybe she wouldn't really be gone.
But John couldn't begin a sen-
tence. He couldn't think of a way
to start the journal entry about his
wife's death. Eventually he stopped
trying to form a sentence and just
wrote down facts as they came to
him.
Soft hair. No tight curls. Wed-
ding ring on chain and finger.
Feet like mountain peaks. Blanket.
Nightgown. Salmon? Coral? Baby
pink?
How can this be enough? They

By Ca/lie Worsham
were just words, words that would strategically to overlap without
never really fit together. John cluttering this wonderful work
noticed every little detail at that of art. He would call it "Time
moment, but he no longer knew Tied Together," or some such
how to describe them. He noticed nonsense. But he hadn't painted
that even in death, Susan glowed. since his hands began to shake
Her hair hadn't been permed in a several years ago. He had given
while and the curls were starting to away all his paints and brushes
fall out. It looked nice. He wished to his granddaughter, the one
she had worn her hair like that who always showed an interest in
more often. art. He closed his eyes, admitting
He had noticed that her wedding that maybe the arthritis had con-
ring was directly over her heart. quered him slightly.
She had threaded the ring on a Perhaps a story. Every chapterj
long necklace, just long enough would unfold a different con-
to fall between her breasts. Now versation, event or feeling that
it was over her heart and she had transpired on that very bed. No
put her finger through it, chain and other details would be given and
all. Her fingers had become thin he would string the reader along,
- too thin to fill the ring she had forcing him to wonder how any
once been unable to remove from of this was related to the preced-
her finger. He tried to remember ing chapter. Then, at the end, it
where they had been when this would all come together when the
had happened. John and Susan bed was up for sale, and all of its
had snuck into the hotel kitchen former occupants would bid on it.
and stole some butter to grease it They would want to retake pos-
off. They were in the Caribbean, session of their memories. Even-
or was it Mexico? He would have tually this story would sell and
to look it up later. become an award-winning book
John sat there, like a statue, ... only he didn't have enough life
remembering the times he didn't left in him to start such a story.
have to think before he wrote. It He could easily turn the story
used to be compulsive. He could into a poem, though. He would1
do exactly as he wished, express- recite all of the most beautiful,
ing himself in any means pos- inspiring moments he sharedj
sible. Any means were possible. with his wife in that bed. It would
For their 10th anniversary, he had begin with the night his eldest son
painted her. He didn't even need was conceived and end with the
her to pose for him; he knew her moment they removed her from
every curve, freckle and scar. And her "deathbed." It would inflict
now he sat in that dusty, worn-out laughter, sorrow, joy, empathy and
green chair, with the cushions remorse. He would give the reader
too thin and the armrests too far a renewed thirst for life and all1
apart, and he could do nothing of its bittersweet moments. John
else but stare at her bed. would have begun writing the
He pictured all the ways he poem if rhyming didn't seemed so
might put his thoughts into mat- trivial on a day like this.
ter. He always thought of himself So instead of creating a mas-
as rather creative. He knew so terpiece, the great American
many forms of expression. Raw novel or a sonnet- worthy only of
talent was never the issue, pick- Shakespeare, he sat. He sat there
ing the medium was. The image in the faded green chair, collect-
of his wife's bed floated through ing dust and fading, too, as the
his mind like a leaf in the wind. balmy morning light poured in
He saw himself painting a mas- through the window. It wasn't
terpiece about time standing still. enough to warm his skin; the only
The bed would be in the center, effect it had was to highlight the
catching the viewer's eye. There distinct pattern of age spots and
would be layers upon layers of melanoma on his arms. Eventu-
mismatching covers sprawled ally, he wondered if he could
on the bed. Between each layer become just an extension of the
would be people, animals, books: material, a mere side'note to an
anything that had touched the bed empty bed.
over the years. All the occupants
of that very same bed - starting Worsham is an RC junior concen-
with the first couple to ever bring trating in creative writing. She can
it home - would be painted be reached at calliea@umich.edu.

Open Letter to Linda
Bukowski and Inge Morath,
Wherever They May Be
By Ca//ln Cowan
Please tell me how you do it.
I too must learn,
Mrs. B,
to be content in managing
a man's estate,
his new leather-bound anthologies
and poems brimming
with whiskey-soused whores
racetrack follies
and other wives who are not me.
How do you do it?
I must know the surreptitious method
of falling asleep knowing
I was merely the last conquest.
And what about you, my frau?
You simply must share the secret
of coming after Madame Monroe,
that platinum pill-hound doll.
Your pretty, flat name looks so nice there
in the vertical photo credit
next to a little circled "C"
beside the last portrait of your brilliant husband
most likely taken by beautiful you,
of whom I still have not seen
one snapshot.
I am your eager student,
for I too must be prepared for this life
of women who love men who love nothing but themselves.
Cowan is a RC junior concentrating in creative writing and a Daily
arts editor. She can be reached at caitanne@umich.edu.
Wleekly Service
By Alex Dimitrov
I. The Savior
In his house where I held to my grandmother's hand every Sunday,
full erect from the faint strand of curls and the red of his thighs.
I would kneel in a black suit, look up at a beard left unshaven,
thorns twining like tendrils. At six reaching hard for.
the smooth cavity of his pits always dry.
II. The Saint
On Second and Sixth across Church they wear leather.
The curls have been shaven, the beard sometimes cropped.
Their veins clout together in crystal syringes,
our boys. Pumping pistons who seroconvert
from Good Friday till dawn.
Dimitrov is an LSA senior. He can be reached at alexdbg@umich.edu.

TALKING POINTS

black versus white issue,
like he did in Washing-
ton and California, it
will pass."
- ED SARPOHNS, vice president of the
public opinion research frim EPIC/MRA on
MCRI's chances being passed in November,
as reported Tuesday in The Michigan Daily.

- Former New York Times reporter JUDITH
MILLER, whose ultimately inaccurate reporting on
alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq appar-
ently helped boost the Bush administration's case
for war, when asked at a cocktail party whether she
would travel to Iraq to cover the war, as reported in
the book "Hubris" by Michael Isikoff and David corn.
"Natural Selection Foods"
- One of the brands of spinach that was
recalled because it might kill you.

Three things you should talk
about this week:
1. Wisconsin
2. Kazakhstan
3. The end of early admis-
sios

DRINK OF
And three things you can't: THE WEEK
Notre Dame
"Borat"
L 'alyil Patrn

1
2.

J. oneiygrn

__ n

More than worth the dent it
puts in a wallet, Patrdn, gener-
ally considered the world's finest
mass-market tequila, brings nose,
burn and an almost-citric punch.
Bottled and packaged as delicately
and ornately as a boutique cognac,
Patron is mostly about putting the
actual elegance back in getting
elegantly plowed.
Though it really doesn't matter
how you take it - straight shots,
mixed with dime-store lemonade
or fresh-squeezed lime juice,
next to R. Kelly in V.I.P - try
not to make too big a show
of yourself. Nothing screams
Facebook album like a bunch
of poorly read, over-moneyed
college kids hoisting Patr6n eye-
catching stout bottles in the air.
Remember, you're still drinking
tequila. Let's save the master
of universe swagger for single-
malts and, you know, paying
your own credit-card bill.

TREND OF THE WEEK
Sharing a bed, talking about it, possibly making The
New York Times.

BY THE NUMBERS

Number of malnourished people in the world, a record high.

-Evan McGarvey

RANDOM WIKIPEDIA
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Menningarndtt
"Menningarn6tt, or 'cultural night,' is a yearly event held in
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, usually on the third Saturday of
August. It was created by the Reykjavik city council, and has now
become one of the largest festivals in Iceland, rivalling the "Inde-
pendence Day" festival held on June 17 every year to celebrate the
anniversary of the Icelandic independence from Denmark.
It's estimated that as many as 100,000 people attend the annual
concerts and festivities conducted in downtown Reykjavik, a stag-
geringly high percentage of Iceland's total population of 300,000
and Reykjavik's population of nearly 115,000.
The festival often consists of a main stage in the city's center and
many smaller events mostly in the same place but also spread over
the city. The highlight of the festival is often an outside concert on
the main stage by three or four of the most popular musicians in
Iceland followed by a rather glamorous fireworks show."

Number of overfed people worldwide, also a record.
Number of Twinkies sold every year.
Statstis tkenf H 5Te Nwb Yok
Timesnd sess ,wbste.

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