It’s two AM and I am having a feast in a big, empty mansion. My patchwork bag of food is spilling open on the sterile granite counter top, a grapefruit venturing out across the grey expanse. I boost myself up to sit next to the food. My faded blue jeans are a colored echo of the grey mottled countertop. Next to me a round slice of polenta sits plumply in a sizzling puddle of rosemary olive oil that I made last month. I reach down, pulling out drawers between my legs in search of a spatula, but these drawers are empty. Instead I pull my dull old knife from my pocket and use it to flip the polenta. Bro, laying on a scrap of carpet under a table buried in paint cans, hammers, rulers, newspapers, paint rollers, and perfectly round pieces of laminate flooring, looks up to see what I’m doing. He has just started to expand his passion for the ball to things like food. i dig in the bag and come up with a piece of seaweed that I split with him.
Hopping down to the floor I turn the heat off on the polenta and begin peeling a grapefruit. I love grapefruits so much, suddenly. I eat it section by section, the way most people eat oranges, careful not to lose one juicy drip. Bro lays next to e and watches the grapefruit with appreciation. I have popcorn, too, and I reach up to pull it down from the counter. I popped it earlier in my pressure cooker on this real fancy electric stove, and I’ve sprinkled rosemary olive oil (what was thawed of it) and brewers yeast on it.
I do everything I can’t do in the van: push ups, sit ups, belly dancing. I even skate around on the smooth floor in my big wool socks. There’s a bathtub in the basement and I run myself a hot bath and go to the van for a pile of books to read in the warm water. I emerge hours later, warm, wrinkled, and full of the swamps and stories of Linda Hogan’s florida.
In the van things are melting. My breath, which every night goes up through the hole in the light fixture into the ceiling and freezes, has melted and dripped onto the bed. I show Bro the puddle in my sleeping spot and his, and I wonder if he can smell the difference between his breath puddle and mine. I smell them both and I can’t smell the difference, even though I can smell the difference between other things, like fox pee and wolf pee and Bro pee and girl dog pee.
I put canning jars under the drips and go back in the house. My rosemary olive oil is almost completely thawed. I take my clothes off and rub some oil into my hands, and then all over my skin. I never use waxy lotions, only oils. When I’m all oiled up I lay on the cool floor in the big house. It’s warmer than outside, but probably just warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing. There are big windows over my head, but I can’t see outside.Â All I see is a reflection of the inside lights overlaid with darkness.
I don’t want to be in this house of mirrors. I want to be the darkness.
So I go.