The fisherman awoke in the night and remembered something he forgot to tell his wife. He looked at her asleep next to him, curled at the edge of the bed with her hand around her stomach, breathing heavily into the sheets. When he shook her awake, the old boat shook too, and Shannon looked around as if she had forgotten were she had fallen asleep.
“What is it?” she asked.
Buuuh, he moaned.
“Huh?” She sat up and turned on the lamp above their bed.
Buuuuuuuuuh, he repeated.
He couldn’t seem to form the words with his mouth. How had he done it before? To speak: think of a thing, find the right words, say it. Usually he skipped the first and seconds parts and jumped straight to the third.
“Your voice must be gone,” she said. “I’ll make you some tea.”
He admired the way his wife’s body had filled in with weight as she pulled off the covers and walked over to the small kitchenette. Her arms were thicker, her breasts grown like ripe mangoes, and her oval face rounded.
While Shannon waited for the water to boil she remembered the dream she was having before her husband had woken her. The boy with light brown skin and green beetle eyes was singing to the baby in her stomach, and in the dream she felt it kick, and that meant that it belonged to him. It had felt so real, but now, as the boat swayed back and forth and the plates rattled in the cupboard above her, she wondered if the jolt she felt in her stomach was just the waves lapping against the boat. The boy with the light brown skin and green beetle eyes was her piano teacher. Over the weeks the idea of the boy being the baby’s father had stuck to her womb and grew fat on lust. The dream was reoccurring.
“Here,” she said, handing her husband the tea. “This will help.”
He took a sip, threw his head up to the sky and gurgled.
Foo sloop arg foo dag! he declared.
“Wow, it’s really gone,” she said. “Why don’t you write it down instead?”
She gave him a pencil and a pad of paper. The pencil shook in his hands while he scribbled some lines down on the page, but he had forgotten how to turn those lines into letters, how to use them to form words and build those words into sentences. The thing he wanted to tell her was there in his head, clear as if he had remembered it in the daylight, but it’s meaning was useless without structure.
Shannon looked at the page and frowned. “This is just zigzags,” she said. “I don’t know what this means.”
He tried to gesture it with his body. He waved his arms over his head in a swooping motion like a bird, then wiggled his fingers as if sprinkling seeds on grass.
“Did you have a nightmare?” she asked.
He flung the porthole open and stuck his arm through it and pointed out at the sea.
“Is there a storm coming?”
He shook his head and slammed the porthole shut. A forceful wave knocked the boat and tea splashed onto the table.
The fisherman realized that his thoughts were no longer composed of words and were now only feelings and images. Had it always been like this, or was he forgetting language? Perhaps he was regressing, and next he would loose his body hair, and his ability to walk. He imagined his wife finding him in the morning naked and small, tangled and bawling in the bed sheets.
He had bought her a piano.
That was the thing he needed to tell her. There was no room in their little boat for such a thing, and she would be angry with him, even if he was only thinking of her. She would be angry that he spent the money, angry that she would have to crawl over it to get into bed every night, and angry with him for making important decisions without her. He would just have to accept the consequences when the time came, and hopefully by then he would have found the words to defend himself.
They decided to give up for the night and crawled back into bed.
“Goodnight,” Shannon said, and turned off the light.
Blaaarg, the fisherman grunted. Then he cradled her face in the ores of his hands and looked deeply into her eyes, meaning love, but all she understood was sadness.
- smontmonster posted this