The Last Thing I Heard

      So he points to the television.  This in response to my bold statement “Nothing here is mine anyway.”   I followed his pointing finger with my eyes, though I knew where the big box stood.  I’d forgotten that it was what I’d brought, proudly, years ago.  “You’re right,” I said.  He nodded, arms crossed tight against his chest, like he was stanching the flow of something precious.  The old fashioned television sat dumb and silent, like a former lover who’d gained weight and had nothing left to say.  I leaned my cheek against the cool glass of the screen, breathed the accumulated layers of dust into my straining lungs.  I pulled back and looked for some recognition of who I’d become. He watched, shaking his foot at the ankle, his patience shiny and taut.   My features undulated in strange waves.  I touched my nose, and then traced the plump outline of my traitorous mouth while he claimed the air in the room as his own.  I held the thing close to my chest and carried it over the threshold, the cord dragging, sad and reluctant, and my arms trembling from the weight of the thing.   I’d become crazy enough to think it actually spoke to me.  I pressed my ear against the glass.  Have a good life is what I heard.  Then the slam of the door.  It took my breath away.  

Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at a university in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  Her  work has appeared
in Verbsap, elimae, Eyeshot, Word Riot, Monkeybicyle, Rumble, Pank, Underground Voices, Danse Macabre and

I wrote the piece about 3 months ago.  I was watching, of all things, Nancy Grace Live, a rather bombastic and much parodied former prosecutor who now sensationalizes all sorts of crime on her prime time television show.  She and her guests were wondering why a woman who died at the hands of her husband had not left, after he hit her the first time.  Ah, I thought, how can it be that easy? What would a woman take? Would she have time?  I thought how amazing it would be to just get out with your life.  Then I thought what would be a useless thing to have if you had to leave for whatever reason.  A television came to mind. Television tends to distort things - and her sense of self is already distorted.  What does she see when she looks into the dead screen? I suppose it was just an organic process after that.  I just wanted a very short scene, just the leaving.  I leave it up to the reader to figure out why she left - did she become unstrung before or after?   Ah, there are many possibilities.



Copyright 2009