Meet me, Michelle Bodnar, a lovely person who sometimes, accidentally, thinks hateful and ugly things, and the best way I know how to understand it all it is to simply write about it. Or, meet me, Michelle Bodnar, a hateful and ugly person, who sometimes, accidentally, thinks lovely things, and the best way I know how to understand it all is to simply write about it. Cheers for your time.
“My dad says I laugh too loud.”
They are side-by-side on their hand-me-down leather sofa smack in front of the mammoth first-generation flat-screen that greedily occupies the equally oversized built-in shelving unit that came with their quarter of the fourplex. He’s watching sports, she’s trying to rearrange things on the shelves in her mind.
After a moment of no response she says louder and faster, “My dad told me that I laugh too loud.” It’s true, she’s heard herself on tape. Her voice is nasal and she mumbles, and her laugh sounds maniacal, definitely a cackle, and is certainly loud. Her mother had the same laugh, it was tremendously embarrassing when she was in her teens although others told her they loved it. When she was drunk once, with funny friends, a waitress told her to try to keep it down. She thought then, “I knew it.”
“Oh,” Rob says.
She waits for him to continue. He doesn’t.
The shelving unit is full, at least looks it. She could practically crawl the entire way in when she was painting, and the pressboard gobbled up paint so horrifyingly quickly she switched to a similar colour in a cheaper brand. But somehow boxes emptied themselves easily, belongings solved their own problems with an alarming lack of bother on her part, and now the gaps, the spaces, are mostly cleverly hidden in the back, behind DVDs and knick-knacks.
“Do you think I laugh too loud?” she asks.
She shifts, squinches away without moving.
“What?” he groans. He puts his arm around her, tries to pull her in. “What?” he shakes her slightly. “WhaAaatt?”
She gets up, heads for the kitchen.
“You’re not really mad, are you?” She says nothing. He says, louder, “Are you really mad?”
“No,” she says, from in front of the fridge, and opens the door, looking for something.
“What are you doing?” Rob says, alerted.
“I dunno,” she mutters.
“I don’t know,” she says, louder. “I don’t know. Looking for something.”
“Are you hungry?”
“What’s there to eat?”
“I guess I could make something.”
He is suddenly behind her. “What were you saying before?”
She turns around swiftly. “What?” Territorial now, she shuts the fridge door quickly.
“What were you saying? C’mon, I’m listening.”
She opens cupboard doors. “I could make nachos, maybe. Do you want nachos?”
“If you feel like making nachos, I’m in for eating them.” He smiles, does a bit of a goofy shake-em dance. “I guess I just don’t care that someone thinks you laugh too loud. You shouldn’t, either. That’s dumb.”
“Yes,” she says. She smiles as close to at him as she can get and hurries the eight steps to their tiny bathroom, closes the door behind her.
“Remember, doofus,” she says to herself in the mirror. “Your father told you he loved you, but he didn’t like you very much. So there’s that, too.”
"The Brain, within its Groove Runs evenly -- and true -- But let a Splinter swerve --" Emily Dickinson
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