I’ve been working on a short story for a couple of years* now. It’s Sylvie’s story and she refuses to tell me exactly how or where it ends. The current draft is scribbled all around the sides of each page with sentences and paragraphs maybe to added. Here’s something about Sylvie taking a hot bath on a night she can’t sleep.
The moonlight is a dull throb in the bathroom, the curtain in here thicker, though the El is just as close. The tub is what Sylvie likes best about the apartment, that it is deep enough for her thick body to swoon in, especially on nights like this when the moonlight is too heavy to let her sleep. She climbs in, holding onto the wall, in case her short legs don’t make it all the way over the tub’s high rim. George doesn’t like baths, though he doesn’t mind scrubbing her back, making her laugh as he whispers dirty blues songs into her ear. In the warm womb of water, Sylvie can forget her body and all it means or will mean…..
….In the tub, the body lacks want and is only a body. [Sylvie] consists only of the tops of her breasts and her red-polished toes, the only pieces of her visible above the shellac of bubbles riding the water’s surface. Nothing is expected of red toes. They are what they are—red, shiny. Floating, seemingly disconnected fro the rest of the foot, from the ankles and shins and knees, these toes don’t have to mean anything.
*As I typed the paragraphs I remembered that I’ve actually been carrying around that image of the toes with red polish since I lived in Provincetown, so that’s more than a decade. I’m a little stunned.