Complaint 48.2

Things I Have Done In The Months Since Your Death
(From Most to Least Strange)

by Hattie Jean Hayes

I walked through the house and collected all my perfumes, body sprays, essential oils, anything with a scent. I uncapped and uncorked them, shattered the glass bottles when that was required, and poured the liquid into the bathtub. It only filled the tub half an inch, but the smell filled the building. I lowered myself in and soaked up the women I’ve been.

I fought a woman at the train station. She was snotty to a person asking for money, and I demanded she feel ashamed. She shoved me into the turnstile, spat on my sandaled feet. I kicked her in the shin, burst into tears, and ran home.

I invested in taxidermy. Not preserving: collecting. My favorite pieces are birds. Wires on the little feet, lacquer on the feathers. The glossy smell of a death that never ends.

I thought about visiting my father.

I opened all the windows and let them stay for days. When bugs started coming in, I left them open, but sprinkled diatomaceous earth along the cracks and windowsills, powdery fossils that meringued my fingernails, left me brittle and breakable.

I stole the RAISE PLOW sign that has been tied to the lamppost at the corner since Christmas.

More than once, around four o’clock in the morning, I woke up, certain I heard the doorbell ringing. When I got downstairs to answer, I remembered I don’t have a doorbell, and no one needs me.

I booked a hotel in Vermont but forgot. I paid $200 in no-show fees and stayed home.

I measured everything in the house with tapes, with cups, with the scale I got for free from the coffee shop. I bought labels, and now everything has weight.

I dreamed about my life as a cheap satin nightgown, the one Sarah Jessica Parker wears when she’s a homewrecker in First Wives Club. I dreamed about my life as something that would slip off easily.

I had sex with Craig, who you hated.

I watched The Public Enemy sixteen times in a row.

I ran a fever. I drank iced coffee until it left me.

I began collecting watering cans, in which I began collecting other things: brown lipsticks, purposeless keys, ornate combs, teabags.

I walked to the park, sat on the bench where you last called your mother. I called your mother but of course she didn’t answer.

I used half-and-half. I wrote a story about clay.

I watched Tommy Boy, muted, captioned, in the middle of the day. When I finished, I left the TV on and fell asleep, Chris Farley and David Spade gawping at me while I dreamed on the couch.

At the store, the organic market a mile away, I bought three kinds of cinnamon.

I started wearing your clothes, only on Saturdays. Your sweater is too big. Your corduroy skirt, which you hated, fits me exactly.

I went to Mass. I took communion.

I let the cat go outside.

Hattie Jean Hayes is a writer and comedian, originally from a small town in Missouri, who now lives in New York. Her work has appeared in Belletrist Magazine, The Conium Review, Hobart, HAD, and Not Deer Magazine. She is working on her first novel.

Pixabay Image by LisaRedfern.

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