Page 26 - WTP Vol. XI #3
P. 26

Every Faith (continued from preceding page)
 were the thoughts that assaulted Mark constantly, the absurd and senseless traces of an absence unforgiv- able.)
He dropped his controller, lay back on the bed. With his head on her pillow, he surveyed the room: the waxy leaves of the magnolia that flared outside her window, the posters and prints from museums in New York, the closed bedroom door and the robe
on its knob, and against the far wall, her disorderly dresser, like something reclaimed from a storied old shipwreck, with half its drawers open or opened half- way. Shirts and bras and pants and socks: the clothing spilled out like great tangles of seaweed, a victory at last for Nature’s sure and sweeping hand.
The bras made him feel that they were coming to the end of something. The closed door too, their paired seclusion on the bed. There were moments when he wanted more than anything to touch her, to run a fin- ger, for example, down the archway of her spine. The pressure of it all, the quiet shame, was overwhelming. They’d been inseparable since kindergarten—before her father’s death, long before his dad’s abandon- ment—and the losses when they came were like a sacred confirmation, the binding of their friendship in a tragedy. It was this sanctity, this sadness, that repulsed Mark in those moments when, bent to his task at the old family desktop, clandestinely trolling the depths of the internet, he imagined her face in the place of some starlet’s, imagined it and shivered and destroyed himself in sin.
She also dropped her joysticks, falling backwards at his side. Their arms were almost touching, were con- ducting in the prickly static void between their wrists a tiny storm of self-awareness. Now their innocence seemed false, a kind of sinning in disguise. Though she, for all he knew, was unaware, was truly innocent. He’d have to summon a distraction. Raise some lame, defusing subject.
“You think our moms hang out at church?” he said. “You know, when we’re like, hanging out at youth group?”
“Absolutely not,” she said. “You know our moms can’t stand each other.”
“You think it’s that bad?”
“Of course,” she said. She put her hands behind her head. Her elbow loomed mere inches from his ear. “My mom’s a real widow. Yours just got dumped.”
“Abandoned,” he corrected. 19
“Right. Well. Widows—you should know this—are the true queen bees of grief. They’re the divas, prima donnas. They can’t waste their precious sympathy on lame-ass divorcees. No offense.”
“My mom thinks yours is bitchy. She says she’s just a snob.”
“Then why’d you ask the question?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Who knows.”
He could sense her body tightening, coiling as it did when they were younger and would fight, wrestling like brothers till the rugburn made them stop. This was not an option now. He didn’t speak. He didn’t move.
“And besides,” she said at last, “who gives a shit about that church?”
“Who said I do?”
“Please,” she said. “You practically pray at the altar of Spencer. You’d think the guy was Christ Himself.”
“Nah,” Mark said. “I just think he’s cool.”
“Cool?” she laughed.
“I don’t know. Nothing. Maybe it’s a girl thing. My ‘intuition’ or whatever.”
“What is it?” he said. He pivoted to face her like a gos- sip at a slumber party.
“He kind of just gives me the creeps. Like he’s gonna give us Jesus Juice or something.”

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