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OMEGA | Fawn Parker
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Fawn Parker

15 Mar Fawn Parker

JUDITH, JUDITH

 

I

I live in a house that John Travolta bought for his ex-wife. It is so big that I get vertigo when I look up at the high ceilings and once I got lost in the boiler room. I stood for hours like a crazy person, contemplating which direction to go.
There is a pillar in the living room that I sometimes think is his ex-wife, dancing in a gown.
I say: What is your ex-wife doing in the living room.
And he says: No that is the pillar.

Nightly I think about middle age. I will be overweight, I figure, but I keep it at bay with constant movement. I am afraid of my reflection in the bathroom mirror and some of the objects in the kitchen. I leap from the furniture like a cat in the dark.
When I have to pee I make John Travolta walk me down the hallway. He sits in the bathtub and reads our horoscopes out loud from a cheap magazine or calls big companies and puts their hold music on speaker phone. We walk back to the bedroom holding hands and I feel like I’m going to fall.

I throw up most days and call my mother. She has gotten another degree and another boyfriend. The walls in her office are full so she rolls up the certificates and swats flies with them. She writes grocery lists on torn-off scraps of her law degree. At Christmas she wrapped a box of pens in her B.Sc.
She has seven boyfriends who take her on seven dates a week. She has reviewed every restaurant in Toronto on Yelp. There are seven vases on the mantle for seven bouquets of flowers.

She says: My dream is to dance with the dog on his hind legs, and cackles.
I tell her about my back, how it hurts when I lie still and it hurts when I move. She walks me through pilates positions over the phone. I do pelvic tilts on the kitchen floor with crumbs poking into my shoulders while my mother counts out sets of ten. I stop doing them eventually and listen to her voice with my eyes closed.

She says, I have never felt like this. She says this once per year, since my father left.

The first time I saw my father in seven years he laughed until he cried. There was one other time he did this, when I was fourteen and I wrote a list of every way he had ever wronged my mother. This time he was laughing at my new haircut, I was sure.
We were in a diner at Bayview and Belsize. In the middle of a story about my friend Jeffrey, he got up with his mug and walked out of the restaurant and into the snow.
Now he is remarried and I call him on Sundays and he says “Judith, Judith” to his new wife.

My mother hangs up to get in bed with the dog. She carries him up the stairs at night even though he is the size of her.

 

II

John Travolta’s friend is eating Ativan on the couch.
He offers to sell me a pill for $5 and says, Do you even party.

I flit around the kitchen in my nightdress, packing dry slabs of ham and burnt potatoes into tupperware containers. When I turn around, the friend rattles his bottle and grins.
Back home, he says, All of my friends are married to older women. They live in these one-stories, and deal drugs right in the living room with their kids walking around, and their dogs.

I go into the bathroom and hide among my precious things. A thick bar of white soap that smells like sweet milk. Gold bobby pins I’ve bent into dancing legs. My thighs look like big bowling pins against the toilet seat and it feels important that they would look bad in a photograph like this. I stand and feel them, and feel my stomach.

John Travolta and his friend get into the cupboards and eat all of the chocolate I have been hiding. Lindt bars with almond slivers and a broken cream-filled Santa Claus. I come out of the bathroom and the friend says, Do you have any alcohol. Do you have any more chocolate.

He falls off of the couch and we leave him when we go to bed. He wakes up hourly and moves around in the kitchen. I yell from the bedroom, You threw up on my good shoes you Animal.

 

III

Gregory is a German tutor with an interactive website. To get to his “About Me” page I had to drag my cursor through a series of medieval-themed mazes. It took 45 minutes to confirm that I had found the right page. He is a 39 year old man from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He likes to fly fish when he isn’t home “rocking out” with his kids. He edits poetry for Rat King Anthology. We exchanged a series of emails, throughout which he used phrases like “showy” and “no patience”.

I walk into the Irish Embassy and stand still by the bar. I am wearing a green sweater with embroidered pink and yellow tulips. It’s the only thing I brought from Toronto when I moved. A girl I was dating stole it off someone’s chair in Salvador Darling, and we ran down the street holding pint glasses under our shirts.

A man at the back of the room in a thick turtleneck waves me over. He is red and drunk and has already ordered me a rum and coke. He’s got a copy of my poem on the table in front of him.

What I like, he says, is what you’re trying to do here.

We argue over the bar’s loud 90s rock and my vision swims. I feel like I’m going to faint, or die, and I tell Gregory again and again that it’s not about him, this happens to me, it’s fine.

I lie down on the rug and it moves in waves under me.

I just think, um, I say.

Symbols are symbols of nothing, he says, and waves the poem in my face.

 

IV

I’m wearing red sequinned polyester. John Travolta brought me into the bar in his coat like a shiny pocket watch. We have been fighting between pints of dark beer, being loud and showy. I turn my chair so I’m facing away from him and he pounds the table with his fist.
Talk to me, he says, Talk to me.

I go to the bathroom and he follows me in and looks at me and I turn away. He pins me to the wall and holds my face in one hand.
I’m scared, I say.
He says: I’m scared too. I’m scared of you.
His arms are unmovable beams. I throw a tantrum like a child and hit his chest with my fists.
You do it too, he says again and again.

A woman walks into the bathroom and takes out her makeup piece by piece. I catch her eye and she says, Bonsoir.

I break free and run out of the bathroom and out through the front door of the bar. I call Lorraine and say, I need you, I need you.

John Travolta comes outside with my coat and puts it on me and snatches my phone out of my hand. He gets up close to my face and I tell him, I hate you, I’m gone, like some drunk starlet.

There’s a man smoking outside of the bar and I say, Do you speak English, I need you.
He says, No, this is none of my business.

 

V

All I know, says Lorraine, is what you sounded like on the phone.
She talks to me like a mother and feeds me bowls of fried rice and sugary cereals. I am on a futon in her living room with my things around me like orbiting moons. I’ve been sleeping perfectly still and in my clothes. Lorraine is tearing pieces of lettuce into a bowl in her lap. She pulls the pit of an avocado with her teeth.

There’s a Korean Drama on TV with the sound off.

John Travolta calls me on my cell phone and I go into Lorraine’s room and let it keep ringing, cradled like a small animal in my hands.

 

VI

Thursday, 10:41pm. My boss forwards me the submissions for Bitter Honey Anthology. My pile of things is spreading to some of the chairs in the living room. Individual Cliff Bars. Emergen-C packets wrapped in a hair elastic. My red sequinned dress, inside out over the back of a chair, and all of the clothes I’ve borrowed.

There is a submission titled, “Block of Palm”:

PALM PALM PALM PALM PALM
PALM PALM PALM PALM PALM
PALM PALM PALM PALM PALM
PALM PALM PALM PALM PALM
PALM PALM PALM PALM PALM
PALM PALM PALM PALM PALM

There is another titled, “You”:

I will beat you up.
My daddy will beat you up.
My big friends will beat you up.
You won’t understand the language of not getting beat up.
You will beat yourself up.
We will all beat you up at once.
We will pass you around in a circle and take turns beating you up.
We will beat you up in pairs.
We will broadcast you getting beat up on TV.
We will write about you getting beat up and make kids in school memorize our writing.
We will display stained-glass windows depicting you getting beat up in the churches.

The document consists of twenty-two more pages.

Another submission is titled “Photo of My Ass” and the document is empty.

Another is called, “Untitled”:

JUDITH,
JUDITH.

 

VII

Heather O’Neill is reading at Monument-National. I show up with no clothes on and sit at the bar. A man is on stage holding a wooden moose, saying “It’s a give and take”.
John Travolta comes over and sits behind me at the bar. He writes on a napkin: I want to fuck you.
I write: How did she used to like it?
He crumples the napkin into my mouth and gags me.

Heather O’Neill walks on stage and reads all of Lullabies for Little Criminals and begins The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.

A girl I met once in Toronto comes in and sits at a table alone. I don’t know her name but I slept with her friend one night when his band played at Lee’s Palace. He couldn’t stay hard so we listened to Dirty Washing Machine and smoked in his single bed.

We walk out around page 109 and stand outside the bar. All up and down the street smiling people are sitting down to fancy meals in restaurants.

John Travolta’s friend comes barrelling out of Monument-National with a bottle in each hand and his arms raised up over his head. He’s shirtless and his hair is loose and greasy, and he’s looking kind of like Jesus. He nods at me, and grins. He hits the curb and goes straight down, and the bottles break against the pavement in his hands.

John Travolta and me and a group of smoking girls stand around him like a campfire.

 


Fawn Parker is a writer living in Montreal. Metatron published her debut collection, Looking Good And Having A Good Time.

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