“Everything’s so dark now, darker than normal” I said, with my head lying on Molly’s stomach. I listened to the inner workings of her gastrointestinal tract; the contractions, the bubbling, the seeping. This was the closest I would ever be to another person. I drew a circle around her knee cap with my index finger while I waited for her to respond.
“I know what you mean,” she said while I nestled my ear into her diaphragm. Her words were muffled, but they stung and surprised me. I was hoping for a quintessential Molly response, something observant and humorous that would expel my lugubrious sentiment from the room. Her assurances typically had the same effect on me as the moth eaten afghan that was given to me by my grandmother as a token of her grandmotherly love; I hated the way they smelled upon first whiff, but they always warmed me up after awhile. I wasn’t expecting her to agree with me. I didn’t want her to agree with me. This had the power to change everything. I didn’t know what to say, but she did. “It’s been months since I’ve heard any good news from anyone. It’s like there’s this greyness; it’s hard to explain. Shit just keeps happening to everyone we know, including us.”
“I know. I really just want it to stop. It’s starting to suffocate me.”
“You’ll be fine. Of everyone, you’ll be fine. This won’t last forever.” There she was, my Molly, lips dipped in corn syrup optimism, eyes alight with “hope”. The difference between Molly and every “live, laugh, love” halfwit was that she actually meant it and didn’t need an embroidered tote bag to prove it.
“I know it won’t last forever. You know, I don’t even believe in the concept of forever. I won’t last forever, you won’t last forever. The universe is fucking expanding and stars die every second. Grow. Death. Rebirth. You know I get that. But it just seems like forever and seeming like forever is just as bad as forever. The illusion of forever is just as terrifying to me as something actually lasting forever.”
“Well, we’re going to actually last forever, so you can go jump out the window right now, then. But, to be honest, it won‘t do you any good because you‘ll be stuck with me for all of eternity. It‘s going to be me, you, and the Mormons.” Molly said, trailing off into soft laughter. Her voice was high and tinny, but never grating. It got me every time she spoke. She ran her fingers through my thick black hair and played with my pearl earring. She massaged my pronounced collar bone.
“Can we at least add another wife before we go, please? I would rather kill myself then spend everlasting life stuck with you,” I said, pinching her thigh.
“I’ll post an ad on Craigslist. I think I’ll do it right now, actually” Molly said with a wild look in her eye. She bit down on her lower lip while she smiled at me. Her nostrils flared with every laugh that escaped her.
“You’re fucking crazy,” I said to her, trying to hold her down to the bed. I was laughing too hard to demonstrate any kind of strength. Molly wrestled away from me and got up, trying to walk away towards the laptop which was sitting on the desk five feet away from us. But, she was tangled up in the mess of sheets that was spilling off of our triple stacked mattress formation (which we called “a bed”) so she had to hop, twist, and add in a few “fucks” before she was successfully set loose. She grabbed the laptop and came bounding back towards me, jumping into her respective boudoir position- the right side of the bed, next to the fish bowl and her contact container.
“Okay, so how do you word an ad like this? Do we say, ‘urban chic couple seeking a third wheel to add to their celestial kingdom’? Do we mention that we hate those people who lip their lips a lot? This is important! Stop laughing at me! This is our eternal livelihood we’re talking about here!” Molly said as she logged on.
“What about right now, Molly? What the fuck do we do right now?”
“Nix, we’re fine! I know it sucks right now, but things will actually get better. Come on, just help me word this ad.” Optimist Molly was back, with a vengeance.
I stared blankly at her. I wanted to have a serious conversation with her, for once. She got the message and put the computer on the floor.
“ Molly, our friends are dropping like flies, everyone hates everyone else, everyone hates themselves, for that matter, I haven’t written a decent column in months yet I still get paid and everyone still says, “Oh, Nicolette, you’re doing so well!”, so I feel like a goddamned prostitute, your mother refuses to acknowledge our relationship, my father is in rehab for the seventh time in the last ten years, you’re taking another pay cut, the second paycut you’ve had to take in the last year, I still owe thirty grand to my grandfather for college, our favorite restaurant closed last month, and I’ve got a fucking pimple that’s been growing on my back for the last three weeks that I haven’t been able to get to. And you’re telling me that it’s going to get better? When, when is it going to get better? Because at most, I’ve got fifty more good years to get this mess sorted out.”
“Roll over. Nix, just roll over…………Nix!” Molly grabbed me and rolled me onto my stomach.
“This thing?” she asked, poking at the pustule growing in between two of my vertebrae, “It looks like a fucking pinprick. I can hardly see it. There. It’s gone.” A moment of silence. I felt some relief. And then, with a surge of pulsating pain, “Oh fuck. What the fuck. Hold on. You’re bleeding. A lot. Where is this all coming from?! Jesus Christ! Holy mother of Mary, you’re hemorrhaging!”
“Well go get some toilet paper or something! Don’t just sit there and watch me bleed out!” I yelled at her. Molly sprung up with the vigor of a terrier. “Okay, okay, okay,” I’m back. With pressure, she held a clump of Cottonelle against my skin. “Does it hurt?”
“Yes it fucking hurts. It’s like I just gave birth from my back out of a hole the size of an amoeba.” I said, biting down on the end of the mattress.
“I have never seen anything like this. Why do you have to make everything so dramatic? I mean, my god, must you will yourself to bleed so much? I get the point. I can have you featured on some TLC show, I‘m sure.”
“I’m gonna go get you a band aid and some Neosporin.” Molly got up more slowly this time and I watched her as she walked into the bathroom. Her brown mess of Jewish curls looked perfect. Her legs were long, white, and elegant, despite the fact she was wearing Bud Light boxers and had a nickel sized beauty mark on her left leg.
“I don’t need Neosporin!” I called out to her.
She came back and straddled me, intent on stopping my pain and bleeding. I heard her take the cap off of the Neosporin and squeeze a little onto her finger. The tube let out a long, “ffeeeeuuhhh.”
“The shit doesn’t even work. I don’t need it.”
“Nix, you don’t know the depth of the wound we’re dealing with here. You don’t want this to get infected. You can’t have your back amputated.”
“Molly, I have never used Neosporin in my life and I have never had anything get infected. Germs are a myth! I’ll be fine!”
“I don’t care what you say. You’re in a compromised position and in no place to make a decision about your healthcare. So, shut up. I’m in charge.”
“Molly, listen to me! If you put that shit on my back, I’m going to kill you,” I yelled at her.
“Fine, you can kill me. But, at least you won’t have an infected back pimple,” she said as she smeared me with her defiant ointment. She peeled the backings off of a band-aid and put it on me, carefully, with her cold, long fingers. “There, good as new. Don’t roll over onto your back just yet, though,” she said.
“Don’t tell me what to do, Molly,” I said, actually irritated with her now.
“Baby, don’t get mad at me. I’m just trying to help you. I don’t want you to be in pain. Or bleeding all over our new sheets.”
I rolled over and grabbed an old issue of The New Yorker off of the nightstand and began reading an article about banana farming.
“Oh come on, Nicolette. You can’t actually be mad at me.”
The truth was, I was sick of her being so loving, so happy, so beautiful all the goddamned time. I was sick of her getting inside my head and making me feel like the world actually wasn’t ending. I was supposed to be the brooding writer, with a rain cloud forever positioned over my head and she was making everything rainbows and cotton candy, cotton candy that never got hard and chewy, even after a good slobbering. She was changing me, slowly, and I didn’t like it. Her lightness scared me, even though I wanted nothing but happiness. Knowing that it was going to take months or possibly even years for me to emerge from the melancholia I called my hideout, I rolled back over and looked at her.
“No, I’m not mad at you. I’m sorry I yelled at you,” I said, leaning in to kiss her.
“Okay, good. Let’s go get coffee or something. I really want a scone. Or maybe a danish. Or maybe some melon. Eh, fuck that. I want a scone. Doesn’t that sound good?”
“Yes, let’s go.”