To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. This is what’s happening with Genevieve:
Upon discovering that I was alone in the house, I had a moment of panic, if Oliver was gone and I had lost time, just how much time had I lost? Was it only the two hours I had originally thought or was it perhaps an entire day? Was it still Sunday, or was it a weekday and Oliver had left for work? I ran to the family room, turned on the television, and flipped the channel to CNN where I was sure the date and time would be displayed across the bottom of the screen.
Breaking News, another mass shooting had happened last night —this time at a Senior Prom in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Students and teachers dead. A teenage gunman with an assault weapon took his own life when the police arrived. I took note of the date —still Sunday— and turned the TV off. I couldn’t watch. This was exactly the kind of thing that reaffirmed my decision about having children. This world was becoming a living nightmare.
I returned to the kitchen and brewed another pot of coffee, waited while the French roast dripped into the carafe. Time, time. How did I lose nearly two hours? My skin tingled —was this how it felt when your atoms flew apart? No, no, stop… I was just cold. The air conditioning had kicked on at its preprogrammed time. But the time… Think. I must have fallen asleep on my feet. The sleepless night had caught up with me. It was the only rational explanation. The other option was too dreadful to conceive: that maybe I really was in some horrible dream.
I had tried to talk to Oliver about the idea recently. He had argued that people were happy, or at least had a measure of happiness, and such a thing wouldn’t be possible if we were all in some sort of nightmare realm. That it could only be a place of abject misery and fear for everyone existing there. I disagreed. I thought of it in more personal terms. After all, what could be worse for a miserable person than to be in the company of people who were happy? Especially if those people had seemingly worse circumstances than you did and still managed to find some joy in life. No, it had to be that these happy people were some sort of incarnations inhabiting my personal hell, placed there by an external malevolent force so that I would feel guilt by comparison.
“What does that make me?” Oliver had argued. “Some sort of evil figment of your imagination?”
I didn’t know how to answer that. The other dominant thought I’d been having was that I was slipping out of existence. If Oliver was a figment of my imagination, then my reality was even more fractured than I thought. I could not lose this anchor for my existence. Oliver’s wife. I was Oliver’s wife. Genevieve, Genevieve, Genevieve. Get ahold of yourself.
Shaking my head to clear it, I laughed nervously and told him to forget it. “I’m just philosophizing again.”
“Your philosophizing always leads you down a very dark path, Gen. I don’t like it,” he said gently. “Sometimes, you scare me.”
Sometimes I scare myself, I thought.
The coffee maker beeped and I poured a cup. Oliver, Oliver, where did you go this morning? Were things between us so bad that you didn’t feel the need to tell me? What if something happens to you? How would I know?
The phone. I could check the phone. We had that app that lets you find all the devices on your account. I set my coffee mug down, sloshing the contents, and ran back to the bedroom where I had left my phone. I swiped it open and found the app. Four blinking blue dots appeared: two phones, two iPads. Three of those dots were here at home, but the fourth was in Center City, off Rittenhouse Square, the parking garage of The Park Hotel. Why? Why? Was Ollie meeting someone for brunch? Did I forget some appointment he had with a client? Or was it with a friend? What friend? We rarely did anything with anybody besides James and Elaine. Was it James? My friend James. James who was going to resurrect me. I should call James. See what he and Elaine were doing. Elaine. Elaine. Elaine. No. No, no, no, no…. it couldn’t be…
I tore off my pajamas and grabbed a shirt and jeans from my closet. Then stuffing my phone in my purse, I ran for the garage. Keys, keys. Back into the house for keys. Hit the garage door opener. Breathe. Breathe. Ignition. Reverse.
GPS. I needed the fastest way to The Park Hotel. I searched the address at the end of the driveway and started the turn by turn directions. “In 50 yards, turn left.”
Turn left. Leaving the development. Out to the boulevard, on to the highway…“merge onto 676 East, The Vine street Expressway…”
Horns, horns, shrieking tires, the crunch of metal on metal. The thump and whoosh of the airbags exploding. Shattering of glass. Screaming, someone was screaming. Then silence.
Header image: Polka Dots ~ Francesca Woodman