112 THE MISSOURI REVIEW • SUMMER 2019
The Woman in the Wall
The housekeeper is about to disappear into the room next
to mine just as I say, Wait, tell me a housekeeping story.
She’s a college kid with a summer job who doesn’t care
that she’s probably breaking the housekeeper’s code
of ethics, so she says, Sure, and tells me about the guy
who was doing drugs in 204 last year and got it
into his head that his girlfriend was inside the wall,
so he tore the wall out with his bare hands. Okay,
it was the drugs. But what else was he trying to say?
That the world doesn’t work. Sometimes your baby
is right there in your arms, saying, Don’t worry, we’re just
going through a rough patch here, we’ll be fine,
and sometimes she’s in that wall, and you have to
get her out. We call her the Woman in the Wall, says
the housekeeper as she laughs and claws the air.
The other housekeepers are older, have taken a child
to the emergency room at three am, kicked a husband out,
taken him back. They want the woman to be real.
If she’s real, so are they. The driver who takes me
to the airport tells me he was a resistance fighter
during his country’s war. When I say he’s lucky
to have made it out alive, he shakes his head
and waves at the cracked dome light, the grimy seats,
the sandwich wrappers. Look at me now, he says.