Mr. Yeager’s voice comes back to her as salve. “My world is safer than it was,” it says.

“My world is safer than it was,” she says.  She tries to believe it.

She dredges up that toothless old tenet, “Don’t give them the satisfaction.”  But when it comes down to it, they have all the satisfaction in the world.  She can’t give it to them, and she can’t take it away.  What she wouldn’t mind giving them is the guilt.

The hardest part would be finding the rope.  Her house is barren of useful tools.  She’d scour the garage and then, if she had to, borrow some from a neighbor.  She’d have to put on some clothes.  And she’d need a good reason why she needed it, and why it needed to be so thick and sturdy.  But when she finally had it, she’d make the knot like she’d practiced on shoelaces, and tie it to her ceiling fan.  Then she’d be ready.

She imagines she would not feel her neck snap.  Life to death would be a seamless transition.  The fan would spin faster and faster until its bolts popped out like tic-tacs against her forehead and its blades sawed through the ceiling, drawing her delicately up through the splintered floorboards of her attic.  Everything would be weightless.  She would grab boxes of memorabilia, as much as she could fit in her arms, and the fan blades would chew through the attic ceiling and the shingles and she would pass through the roof.  The rough furrows in the rope would feel like satin, and the pirouetting fan would carry her like she was nothing and she wouldn’t be a burden and she would comb through her boxes, selecting what she would take with her to Heaven.  What pictures to bring?

Her father giving the thumbs up to a cardboard cutout of the Dalai Lama.

Her mother glimpsing her for the first time as a newborn in the nurse’s arms.

A runt Beddy bearhugging the gallon of jelly beans she got for Christmas, tipping from its weight.

The rest she would cast off into the ant cities below.  She would sort through her mom’s scorned vinyl, selecting Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart, The Band, Jesus Christ Superstar.  If there is a Jesus, and she has ample reason to doubt this, maybe He hasn’t heard it yet.  She would play that for Him, and maybe they could drop acid and listen to The White Album.

“Probably too fat to hang from the ceiling fan anyway.”  She laughs a raked and mirthless laugh.

There must be some familiar voice to cheer her.  Someone to spill to.  She picks up the receiver and thinks.

Her sister.  No.  Too late in the night.  Might wake the baby.

Her father.  Bad idea.  Probably interrupt one of him and Gloria’s sex romps.

Her mother.  Sigh.

She dials.

“Super Duper.” Youthful girl voice answers.

“Hello, can you put me through to Deirdre?”


“Deirdre.  Your manager.  Can I speak with her?”

“Oh Deeerdrah.  Yeah.  Um hold on.”

“Super Duper this is Deirdre.”


“Is this important?” Ma asks.  “This isn’t important, is it?  If this isn’t important I have to go, Deel.  The credit card machines all decided to stop working at once.  You know how many people pay with credit?  There’s a line out the door.  I have to go.  What do you need?”

She needs her to work Mom-wonders and blow on her cut.

“Judd diarrhea-ed on the floor and uh, I can’t find the cleaning spray.  I checked the cupboards.”

“Really, Deel?  Hhhhhhhh,” Ma sighs exaggeratedly.  “It’s under the kitchen sink.   It’s always under the sink.  What’s he doing in the house, anyway?  You know he’s having trouble with his new food.”

The tears start again.  “I’m sorry, Ma.”

“Put him outside again.  Make sure he stays there.  I have to go.”

Tears drip onto her hand and run down onto the receiver.  “Um, what about tonight?  It’s my big night.  Aren’t you going to wish me luck?”

“I already did before I left.  Twice would be bad luck.”

Beddy’s knees buckle, and she manages to thud into her chair.

“Right,” she says.  She nods in decorum for a woman who cannot see her.

“I have to go now,” Ma says.

“Ok.  Bye, Ma.”

Dialtone, stretching out like a horizon.

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