I cried. You said, “I still have your things.” Now there are three big boxes on my porch. I sit down on the bedroom floor, drive a rusty blade-cutter through the tape. At the bottom of the box I find a small black case. I open it. I see the ring you sent back. I pick up a Styrofoam peanut and put it in my mouth. It feels crunchy then it goes soft, like cooked whipped egg whites. Do you remember that French dessert, “floating islands?” I eat another peanut, then another one, then a handful, a dozen.
Paris, 4 a.m
Chapped lips, eyes up my neck, tongues in my ears. I close my eyes and try the trick the therapist taught me. Come back to the present. Remember where you are, go down all the little frames. Place and time. France. Paris. My apartment. My bed. 2012. April. Friday. Night time.
I can’t. I can’t do the little frames. I shake your arm off me and get on my feet. I put on my boots, my winter coat. I close the heavy door and run down the wooden steps. I get down to the sidewalk, the street. Paris smells like dog poop, vomit, and drunken piss, garbage not yet washed up by street cleaning.
I sit on a bench across the street and look up to the window where you open the curtain, and look down.
I put you in the tub, run the water lukewarm, roll up my sleeves. I pour some soap that makes no bubbles, wash your feet, your legs, your torso. “Up,” I say, and you raise your arms, one after the other, the soap froths in the hollow of your armpits. You bow your head, close your eyes, open them, see the bruises, the cuts. I wrap you in a white towel, guide you to our room, put you in bed, tuck you in between clean sheets. “Take this,” I say. I wrap an ice-pack around your hand, applying pressure.
I say, “I have to go rinse off the deck now. Somebody puked on it.”
“Why? I’ll do it, I’ll do it in the morning.”
“It’s almost morning.”
When I leave you are snoring with whiskey. The night is gray and smoky from the summer fires. I spray cleaner on the deck, turn on the hose. The water drips down the steps and I let the hose run and run.
Candie Sanderson spent most of her life walking on her tiptoes in the French countryside. She recently moved to the United States and decided to start writing in English. She is now an MFA candidate at the University of Montana, where she thinks a lot about “cross-genre.” Her work has been published in CLAM and Des histoires à nous.