Route 7 Review - Page 141

of the canvases you collaborated on were indicative of the ideas he wanted to express, the ‘new turn’ he was after.”  Nina waited for an eye roll or some form of sympathy.  Nothing.   “Oh,” said Nina again.  Barbara smiled, turned on heel and clicked past walls obscured by pieces Nina’d never seen before, spatters of ink over unattributed quotations: “Brute Heart” in bleeding black; “Just to remind you...” made out of Post-It Notes, “Beauty is a short-lived tyranny” printed in Jason Karl’s hand and held by a woman: naked, supine, glassy-eyed, silent, the quotation obscuring her sex, a cigarette dangling from her bored, surly mouth. Reviews were mixed at best.   “You worked on stuff with Jason Karl?  When?” She could say nothing.  “Wha t’s in the envelope?  Nina?” “Not now,” she said.   “I thought you were working at the library.” “I want to go home,” she said. That night, Jackson slept on the couch.  He’d said nothing on the ride, and she had decided she’d say nothing until the morning, if then. Alone and fidgety, Nina found a slip of paper in her husband’s things. A bookmark on cardstock, jaggedly cut from something more important. A heart, crude, was drawn and colored the red you use when the good red from the box is lost or dulled to a stump. The heart was lopsided, almost anatomical in its asymmetry. Better than a lot of shit I saw tonight, she thought. Above it was written, “People will forget what you said, but will never forget how they felt.” People will forget what you said, but will never forget how they felt. How did the original homily go?  People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.   She weighed the two homilies, one accepted, the other a best guess.  Identical in intent, perhaps, but damning when judged side-by-side, like a copy of a copy. She searched for an appropriate analogy: a cuckolded husband? a lost year? an unseen portrait?  And finally, sadly: a locked box.    It’s the difference between living with this and living like this.  They can mean the same thing, but only one can be lived.  Not both, not together. Which one? It was a cage.  Gave me nothing but pain.  Men couldn’t see past wanting to have it.  Kept me tied to the ground. Nina’s mother, scowling and naked and beautiul in that painting at the Met.  Her mother, twisted and withered and slurring in a plain white room in New Mexico.  Her mother, who blamed her life on everyone around her and who lived and died alone because she thought happiness was something you had to take and give.  Did she take it from Jason Karl?  Did she take what she needed?   What did she give up? She put the bookmark back in Jackson’s drawer.   “Perhaps incompletion is something none of us escape,” Jason Karl had said.  “Perhaps it deserves to be pursued.” A mess of moving parts. A worthless contraption. Incomplete. I should have told him, she thought, the first time. It occurred to her that she wasn’t sure whether she was thinking about Jackson or Jason Karl.   Both, she decided. Together.   Why not? The kids had their last day of school on June 15th.   “Later and later each year,” Jackson said as she held the door for him at the awards assembly.  “Hot as a mother--” “Jackson,” said Nina, and he smiled.   “Just kidding.” Later and later, indeed.  Now, if we could get them back to school after The Fourth of July, I might get through summer with all my marbles.     “5th Grade graduation?” Jackson asked.  He’d asked the same thing in the car, and on the couch the night before. “They’re going to middle school next year,” Nina’d said.  “It’s a milestone.” “You say the word ‘milestone’ like you mean ‘sexually transmitted disease’.” “Just smile.  It’ll be over in an hour.” Incomplete. The twins were both in orchestra, so they sat through “Old MacDonald”, “Farmer in the Dell”,