My father watched House of 1000 Corpses back in 2003 because it was directed by Rob Zombie, former frontman for White Zombie, which was a band who understood the look and sound of the 80s hair metal, “noise-shit” as my father called it, and he loved them which meant he wanted to look freakish with some do-it-yourself face piercings in his nose, eyebrow, tongue, really anywhere he could stick a hunk of sterling silver, he laughed when my mom called him Pinhead, reference to the guy in Hellraiser with the needles sticking out of his face, and back in the 80s, one of my dad’s buddies took a photo of him with his head leaned off the couch, grinning, black leather trench coat wrapped around him, platform Doc Martens kicked up, this photo means he’s young, he watches horror movies where no one survives because he can still stomach the idea of the world being all bad, movies where Rob Zombie makes up his redneck murder family and mutilates Rainn Wilson’s character and stabs Denise Willis just when the audience thought she survived and became the classic final girl: got away in time but still has to live with all the shit the world put her through.
Fortunately for my father, I lived up to his expectations, fulfilling his lifelong dream of having a daughter who would become the first person in the family to graduate from Harvard Medical School as an orthopedic surgeon, and fortunately for me, I had the skills necessary to anesthetize my father, amputating both of his legs just below the knees when, for the final time, he exposed himself to me after exiting the bathroom.
What were they thinking naming me Eliza when nominative determinism is real and alive and well—and this is where my problems began, before I was even born, when my parents assigned me to this incomplete life, forever stuck in this puberty state, with no adulthood in site, this purgatory world with no end—no heaven or hell—only middle, forever in the middle, forever waiting for the perfect job, for the perfect marriage, for the perfect time to have kids, waiting for the realization of who I am, who I am meant to be, the realization that never comes because this is bigger than me, this is written in the stars or the universe or the cosmos or wherever the whatever-you-believe-in-God gives meaning to all the things, meaning to our names, which gives meaning to ourselves, and to all that comes from the lives we build, and life would have been so different, so much more finite, so much less infinite, if only I could have been properly defined, wrapped up, complete—if only I could have been named Elizabeth.
Melody Plays Before the Doors Close
I knew a man who Superglued his broken bones together, and the glue leeched into his blood, killing him just before the yearning could.
I receive a text message containing a photo of my nephew’s belly button, but it takes a moment for the next message to come through so for a few minutes, I just have this photo of a belly button with the text Does this look herniated to you? from my sister, and I respond but get no reply, and the day prior, I received a broken chain of texts from a friend, with one message missing: the first, explaining context, and when I asked what it meant, I received no reply, so I exchange many messages with another friend about a movie she had recommended and we’ve both seen, but later, she asks if I ever saw the movie, like whole conversations are deleted from memory; then, in the middle of a text conversation with a friend, the word probably appears between two received thoughts, casting doubt on everything that came before and after, so that probably seems to have dropped into our words unbidden, and then I text my partner from another room of our home, built in 1945, and you can hear and feel each footstep reverberating through wood and wall, and frames lean slightly further askew each day, and now I hear him sigh as my text reads delivered, his annoyance like an alarm, like I’m missing a single line from the middle of each message I post to a forum, main chunks of information missed, my brain assuming others can see what never escapes my lips, and some messages are a dare, and my responses a submittal, which reminds me that as a child I slid, on tiptoes, a sealed manila envelope addressed to God onto the top shelf of my closet, the highest place I knew how to reach, since I was too small to move a ladder without asking for help.
For breakfast she ate her nest egg.