THE CONNECTION BETWEEN DUST AND JEALOUSY
She hated the way he tricked her into being jealous – you know how they do it, ladies. He’d drop little emotional shit-bombs on her like, “Oh, I’ve got a lunch meeting with Marie. You know, she’s my old girlfriend from high school, the one I told you about who I was madly in love with. We’ve been friends since we were 13.” She already knew that, she’d heard the story once for every year they’d been friends. Now he was 27 and she knew the story syllable for syllable, and had memorized the cadence of his voice for all the words he used. He’d give her details that to him were just part of the way he spoke, but to her enough to ruin her day every day for the next 2-3 days. “You have nothing to worry about, babe, you know I can’t stand her. Regardless of the fact that she’s got the hottest little figure I’ve ever seen, she’s the worst human being I’ve ever met. Absolutely unlovable. Believe me, I tried to love her. I would have married her if I could have. She was my one true love. Besides you, honey.”
When she heard things like this, which by the way, was about once a day or sometimes twice if she was unlucky, or sometimes every other day if she was lucky, her emotions tore and split into shards like offspring of themselves. From one angle, she knew that to be jealous was belittling of her, smaller than her personality, weak-minded, immature, not becoming of her, stupid, childish. It made her feel out of control and confused. From another aspect, she considered her place in his life. The way he rationalized every lunch date or meeting or piece of art that he needed to create with an ex-girlfriend or short term lover led her to believe that he couldn’t care for her the way he spoke so indelicately about something so tender to her. Either that or he was simply oblivious. Either way, what an idiot.
Janice had just about had it with guys playing songs she didn’t like all up and down her heartstrings. She decided that without failure she wasn’t going to stand for it anymore. What then, though? Would she be a lesbian? Surely there couldn’t be a man in the world who was thoroughly considerate, thoroughly tender, thoroughly understanding of how you can and can’t talk to a woman. There just couldn’t be. What then? Would she become celibate? Perhaps begin dating and possibly marry her career? What career? She worked days answering phones at a trading company downtown. The best she could hope for was full benefits and maybe half a hundred grand a year. Maybe they’d reimburse her if she went to college, but what would she take up now? 32 years old is young still, but it isn’t too young that you can just up and start over. Or can you? Can you up and start over at age 32? What if you are tired? What if you are close to dying? What if your heart has been broken? Don’t those things matter in life? Why didn’t anyone seem to be able to relate to her? How many questions could she ask herself in a row without stopping?
She made herself a cup of green tea, and then another, and then finally, one more. She didn’t finish the third cup, but she noticed that the caffeine had begun to take effect because she started to clean her apartment in an intricate way. She sprayed bleach spray (you can buy it now in a spray bottle) into the corner of one of the walls near the kitchen where a black puddle of fuzz had begun to form. What was in that fuzz? Germs? Cooties? Filth? Maybe a new disease? What was it? Cockroach shit? Dust? Isn’t dust dead skin flakes? That was what she’d heard once and it horrified her, the idea that her old flesh was wandering around her apartment, laying on the tables and the lamps and everyone who came into her house could see her dead old skin from months or maybe even years before, grey, still, dead. Dust laid on the furniture with the same emotion of a dead body lying in a casket, and that made her even more upset at her boyfriend. She imagined herself lying in a casket and he looking over her, holding the hand of his new girlfriend. “I loved Janice more than anyone. I told you about Janice. Amazing ass. They should have buried her bottom side up. I told you about her ass, didn’t I? The best ass I ever saw on a human woman. Besides yours, of course, honey.”
She wiped the dust up with a damp paper towel and threw it into the trash. She picked up the phone and dialed her boyfriend.