In which our hero must learn to let go.
He ran into Lily at a convenience store. He was there to buy a home enema kit and had spent a good thirty minutes debating his choices in the store. This half hour followed a few hours of enema brand research at work, a few hours of enema safety and usage research the night before, and an hour-long discussion with his mother two days before in which, before hanging up in frustration, she told him he could either “use the damn enema or fill up with poop until you implode”. As a general rule, he doesn’t like things to enter him. Not just in his butt. He despises cotton swabs, thermometers, shots, earplugs, nasal sprays— anything that can enter through any orifice on his body feels wrong.
He was on his way to the register when she called to him. Her voice was bouncy. She was wearing a white sundress with red hibiscus flowers blooming all over it. Her hair was bright and curly. She’d put on some weight, and though some horrible part of him was glad to see her fat arms drooping a little off the bones, some equally horrible part of him was upset that she didn’t seem to care about it. It seemed unfair that she was beautiful in the way that people who are happy are beautiful. And it seemed unfair that she look so happy when he, by contrast, was filled with the painful weight of his shit.
She told him a few things about her life. She asks about him. Whether he renewed the lease on the apartment. Whether Salvatore was still singing. Whether he was still in the same job. Whether he’d heard about all the births, deaths, and marriages that’d been going on. She makes eye contact with him the whole time except for one brief moments when they flit down to the enema box. When her eyes came back to his after this brief lapse he saw in them a thin hint of laughter. Her phone buzzed and she checked a text, laughing as she read it. When she looked up again, she told him she had to get going. They hugged.
In spite of the pain in his bowels, he pretended to look at other products while she paid.
The minute he got home he went straight into the bathroom to use the enema. He brought the tube nearer and nearer to his butthole, inching it forward very gradually until he, finally, eyes clenched shut, just jammed it in and started the water flow. Then he lay in the tub for a long 10 minutes retaining the fluid. He thought only about Lily. And as he thought through their conversation at the store, old memories, involuntarily, seeped into the conversation and filled everything with a deep significance. He read omens in her looks and laughs, extrapolating her thoughts and feelings about him from the littlest impressions. By the end of the 10 minutes, as he moved from the tub to the toilet, she had almost been completely removed from the conversation. He began to talk for her: a scenario where she broke down in tears apologizing; one where she violently kissed him against the chips and candy aisle; another where she went off on a long tirade about what an awful, boring person he was. Finally, he fixated on a single version in which she did nothing and he did nothing and they both just stared at each other across the chips and candy aisle with a quiet longing.
It was somewhere in the middle of this last fantasy that he was brought back to reality by the sense of imminent release. Then, emptiness.
Image Source: The Public Domain Review