Unraveled

By Charles Lennox

The furniture is in disarray. Dining room chairs in the kitchen in stacks of threes and an empty bookcase in the downstairs bathroom obstructing the toilet and all the floor mats and couch pillows nailed to the wall where family photographs once hung like medals. I look everywhere for the photographs but they are gone.

Jason’s mother sits on the pillow-less couch knitting a booty. She faces the corner and I snake around end tables and dusty shelf units and tall lamps without light bulbs to reach her. Her straight hair is now a wild bush of curly question marks growing in every direction. Her makeup is unfinished and days old. She looks at me and sets aside the knitting needles and the ash-colored yarn and presents me a sweater. Its color is the same as the yarn and booty.

I made it just for you, Jason’s mother says, already back to stitching. Do you know you were the only girl Jason ever brought home? I think he would want you to have something like this. Besides, it’s so cold out. Try it on.

I pull the thin sweater on and it fits tight. Like skin. Perfect, Jason’s mother says. She smiles and her smile wrinkles her face and reveals teeth in the same state of decay as her insides. Now you’ll always have something to remember him by.

We both stare at one another a long time. Thanks. It’s all I can think to say to end the silence. I kiss her on the forehead and then walk back to my apartment.

Friends tell me Jason drowned. His girlfriend, Sarah or Sally, found him floating in the backyard pool next to a handful of leaves. They think he slipped and cracked his skull on the wet concrete and rolled into the water. Rather than burial or cremation, his mother requested the body be spun into yarn and a week later she received several cardboard boxes packed with eight-ounce skeins.

The sweater does nothing for the cold. It itches and smells like old books. At home, I hang my ex-lover on the closet door and waste the afternoon staring at his woven remains from the bed we once shared, where he mumbled forgotten words into my ear as we made love, my body uncoiling with his and spilling over the rippled sheets, the darkened wood floor, the dusty corner. We were a new shape, a tangled heap of flesh.

I notice a loose thread on the right sleeve, a thread I imagine pulling free and my ex-lover, the sweater, spooling out into a continuous string of human yarn that has lost all form and purpose.


Copyright © 2007 Charles Lennox