Jenessa Abrams | I’m Not Here

Dr. Gregson says, death is like the rain when you’re in a windowless room: It is only there if you seek it out.

No it isn’t, you say.

What you don’t say: Death is silent, but it is always there. She is the one that’s gone.

Dr. Gregson crosses his tweed pant leg, again. This is the fourth time. This seems to happen after his declarations of grandeur. Just as he sums up the trouble with existence, the trouble with your insomnia, the trouble with you feeling so so sad, he massages his Adam’s apple, as though patting himself on the back, and waits for your eyes to glitter, maybe for you to bow down, but then you counter him; just as always, you poke a hole in his reasoning, you sit there, unmoved, still sad, so he crosses his legs, ready to begin again. You keep throwing the game; he keeps trying to win.

How do you feel today, Larry?

Like yesterday, Dr. Gregson.

But, today is not yesterday, Larry. Today is Thursday; tomorrow will be Friday. The weekend awaits.

They are the same, Dr. Gregson.

The days are not the same, Larry. The days are different.

I am the same.

Dr. Gregson never says death is silent. He says it is loud, like screaming at the top of your lungs on a mountain; that it is breathless, like panting and pleading on your knees. Death is what you make it, he says. Death is about taking control.

No, you say. You are wrong, you say. What do you know about loss?

This is not about what I know, Larry.

Then why am I here?

You tell me.

He crosses his legs again.

I’m going to use the toilet.

Larry.

I feel I need to use the toilet.

I’ll wait.

Dr. Gregson does not understand why you don’t speak. Use your words, he says.
What words? You think. Which ones are mine, which ones still mean anything?

Death and silence you decide after unzipping your pants. You put your hands on the top of the urinal and steady yourself.

You want to say: Death is silent, Dr. Gregson. Death is no one there. Death is calling the same number on the phone. Calling again and waiting for the voicemail, for the voice, for her voice, to hear her voice one more time: Hello this is Marjorie. Marjorie, you say and you hang up then because you can’t bear to hear the words: I’m not here. So you call back again and there is Marjorie. It takes fourteen seconds each time and you get nervous like you first did when you called her at her parent’s house, when you wrapped the cord around your finger then stretched it around your neck. When her mother said, I don’t know if she’s here.

She’s there, you wanted to scream, She said she would be there and to call at six and it’s six so please put Marjorie on the phone, but you didn’t say that, you said: Thank you, Mrs. Benson, I’ll wait, Mrs. Benson and when she said: She’s awfully far away, if she’s here. I’ll have to fetch the maid. Why don’t you call another time? And you said: No I’ll wait, I’ll wait as long as it takes.

Hello this is Marjorie, I’m— you hang up the phone. Hello, you say to the disconnected line, I’ll wait.

.

.


Jenessa Abrams is a Norman Mailer Fiction Fellow. Her writing has been published in Tin House Online, Guernica, Washington Square, Joyland, BOMB Magazine, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center and Columbia University, where she earned her MFA in fiction and literary translation.
2017-11-30T11:38:49+00:00 November 29th, 2017|