There has been no point in getting out of bed today, so I haven’t bothered with it. Christopher left four days ago, with very little urging from me, and now I am wrapped in a blanket, listening to the empty sound of the apartment, trying not to think about what to do next. The key and Japanese coin rest on the nightstand. They are also things I am trying not to think about, but I am doing a poor job of it.
I called in sick to work this morning, and with the holiday weekend, that means I’ve had five days now of not leaving the apartment. I don’t know when I’m going to leave it again. Maybe never.
Arthur isn’t standing on the sidewalk outside when I bother to look out the window. I always expect him to be, and I don’t know if I am frightened of the possibility or excited. Very little makes sense right now.
I reach over and take the key in my hand. It looks like something from a Victorian novel, scuffed iron and toothy. I have no idea what it unlocks. It feels warm to my touch, which is slightly unsettling, but I don’t put it back down. To be afraid of it means that it will own me, and I refuse to be put into that position. I take the coin up as well, and it feels as cold as the key is warm.
There is no logic to be found here.
Penelope can help you, the letter said. I still don’t know anyone with that name.
Penelope. Rum and molasses.
I know I am in a bad place.
I am not getting out of bed.
My phone buzzes, and I look to see what it is: a photo, of dew on blades of grass. Another something from Tina, sent from wherever she and Boone have gone off to. She sends one photo a day to me, only one. I haven’t responded to any of them, but they still come, and I put them one by one into an album for safekeeping.
Tina knows something is up with me. She always knows somehow.
Feeling like she is watching is motivation enough for me to get out of bed. I pull the blanket aside and put my bare feet on the cold floor. I haven’t worn clothes since Saturday, but the ones I had then are still laying at the foot of the bed where I dropped them. I pull on the shirt and yoga pants and leave the bedroom, going to the living room. The curtains there are still closed. I pull them aside slightly and peer out. Again, Arthur is nowhere to be seen.
Christopher had a terrible cut on his forearm when we had our fight. It was red and scabbed over and angry. He said he’d slipped on a fallen branch while cutting through a section of the park, and fallen on some stones and cut himself. I wished in that moment that he’d cut himself deeper, that he had bled out on the carpet of eucalyptus leaves on the park’s floor. My hatred was a combination of my anger for him and my fear of Arthur, of the letter from myself which changed its words every moment I looked at it, and for the way the world seemed thinner somehow now.
As he walked away below the window outside the living room, I impulsively grabbed his copy of Kerouac’s Big Sur from the bookshelf and flung it down at him. I missed completely, and the book bounced off the sidewalk and into the gutter. Christopher picked it up without breaking stride and walked away, not once looking back at me.
Her name is Kalie. I want to see her. I want to know what she looks like, the one his hands have been on. Ruinous Kalie.
I look outside the window again.
Arthur is not there.
My mind is not well. I know it, but I don’t know what to do about it.
Penelope can help me. Of course she can.
I just have to figure out who she is.