“AND YOU,” says the therapist, “Who is controlling your behavior?”
I really can’t say, so I say:
“I really can’t say.”
It’s a lot to know at once. I leave his office with the solution in hand, and I hold it securely, and I’m shaping it into a sentence. So what I had thought of as my happiness was only the absence of hunger. I enter my car and am eager to apply the knowledge, so I am eager to get home. Home is a place that can be put on mute. Each stoplight is like a seam in my thinking. A seam is a place where the attention can drift away. But when the attention drifts away, the body is often harmed.
The gate to my house is shut, but the front door is wide open.
I stand at the gate and take a moment to examine the rectangle that is the open doorway. Not much is visible. Did I turn no lights on before I left? Did I leave the door this way? I would not have. I manage very well. Yes, managing is the word for the thing I mostly do.
Still, the door is open. I prepare myself for an encounter. I walk through it.
“Hello” is the word that I choose to say.
This word comes back to me, so I say another one.
“Okay.” This word does not come back.
The house has often been spooky. But what a comfort to live inside of a place that will collect your skin and turn it into dust.
“Burglar?” I say.
Oh, I should try to think of my possessions. What’s of value here? I search every room, look in all of my rooms, and there’s no one. This is how I find myself back in the dining room, where there is a pear on the kitchen table. The pear has a bite taken out of it. The bite, I remember now. How I was told not to eat the skin, because of pesticides, only I didn’t want to take the time to peel it. Now I pick up the knife and sit at the table and eat the pear. I stare through the rectangle of the open doorway, and I wonder, what was that knowledge. The thought I had been carrying in my hand. The one that I dropped in the driveway, just before I had this encounter.
SARA DUFF lives and works and writes fiction in Tucson, Arizona. Before this, she did those things in St. Louis, Missouri, for ten years. In 2017, she received an MFA in Fiction from Washington University and in 2020, her work will appear in The Portland Review and The Fairy Tale Review.