need what she needed. That made her feel terrifically alone, and so she
wasn’t too hurt when he said he needed to meet his friends back at their
crappy hotel off the island.
Dutifully, he took down her e-mail. Back at home, she wrote to him.
He wrote her back from Papua New Guinea, where he’d been headed to
next. They became friends on Facebook. BRB became irrationally jealous when she saw him posing with a group of friends, half of them girls,
in a waterfall pool.
It ended the way those things do. His e-mails came through in
Helvetica. He used the word “posh” more than twice. But it was more
than that. One of the days it was her turn to respond, she came home
from work to find her mother on the foyer carpet. That was the last few
months, the toothless maw of it. BRB had been propping her mom on
the couch before she left for work, setting her up with some OJ and a
straw, the remote control, a bedpan. Around noon the old lady’d gotten
up to check the mail, thought she could make it with the walker, but her
irradiated legs had given out ten steps in. She lay where she had fallen,
splayed like an anemone.
“How long have you been here?” BRB asked, crying.
“No more than two hours.”
An ambulance came, and that was the last time the old bag saw her
own house. BRB rode in the back, holding her mother’s hand in the
stretcher. The paramedics were ornery, nothing like Justin from Bondi
Beach. All the same, she didn’t write him back. One, because her mother
died and she spent three months doing little rhinestones of cocaine and
eating duck confit by herself in the big suburban house, and two, be-
cause she had met Joe.
They had seven miles left to go of nothingness. BRB thought about driving into a tree, the man sailing forward, banging his head and passing
out. She imagined fileting him with his own knife, bringing him home
like chops from the market and roasting him for dinner over the fire
pit they’d bought at Target. But what if she did it wrong, what if a tree
branch shot through the window and the child were impaled? They’d
moved the car seat to the center because an article said it was safer. She
felt stupid for every time she had felt strong.
Madeline was leaning forward and staring at the man. She had her
blue Soothie in her mouth. She was sucking it rapidly. Just this week the
child had started folding clothes with BRB. She loved being tasked. She