Shantih Journal 3.1 - Page 117

There’s a small coffee table in front of me with a stack of People magazines on it. No Bible, just a stack of People. I think that’s funny. I flip through one of them and find a where-are-they-now article in it about that little girl who got stuck in a pipe twenty, maybe thirty years ago. And even though the story came out when I was just a teenager, I remember it all without even reading the article. All the media fren- zy. The images. How they cut that little girl out of the pipe after she was crammed in it for th ree days. The magazine has pictures of her now, grown up with her own beautiful husband and kids. I don’t have time to read any of that before my mother’s shrink walks in. I let the magazine drop to the table. He introduces himself, but I forget his name as soon as he says it. Bill? Blake? Bilbo? Baal? It doesn’t matter. For a moment I can’t even remember why I’m here. I look at the Jesus on the wall again, like maybe he might help. His head is kind of peeling off the wall and I wonder how easy it would be to peel off the whole mural. Probably easier just to paint over it with a dark green. Like an artichoke green, I think. Then I look back at the People Magazine. Bilbo is still talking, but all I can think about is the smushed face of that little girl, the tiny body crammed in that pipe like a clot of hair in a drain. She must be almost forty by now, I think. That little girl. I wonder if she had to go through years of therapy. Or if she still wakes up some mornings in that pipe. We talk. I tell him how many times I’ve called or emailed or knocked on her door or sent cards. I tell him that I miss my mom, which I do, and that this will be the last time I reach out. I don’t say to save the relationship. I just say that I love her, even though it sounds sappy. Bilbo explains why she cannot talk to me. She has heard God’s voice telling her that she is not to commune with me. “Those were Jesus’s ex- act words,” he says. “She heard it while making goulash.” Those are his exact words. His Bible is lying unopened next to him on the couch. I think about how I’ve always hated my mother’s goulash. Bilbo says I just need to repair. Like a broken sewing machine, I think. A gay sewing machine. Then I laugh a little out loud. “Is some- thing funny?” he asks, touching his Bible. He glances at the clock and I stand up before he does. “Hilarious,” I say. Outside, the sunshine hits me like it must have hit that little girl thirty years ago when they finally cracked through that pipe. 117