Residue / by Kelli Reilly

Here is a piece I wrote not too long ago. I performed an excerpt of it last night at the Bowery Poetry Club. It helped me get a sense of the important emotional beats and dream-like energy I want to covey.  Enjoy and if you are ever so inclined, let me know how it made you feel, what you think, etc. 

 


RESIDUE

 It is never good. It is never pleasing, nor is it ever romantic to come together in a sterile, linoleum, hospital room. It is not the standard “meet-cute” of a scene or a story shared over gossip and mistos. Black cobwebs of stitching throughout a blanket of jaundice and crimson soaked gauze are not inviting, unless one was controlled by an unconditional sense of affection. On the left and right of me stared two people who had no choice but to endure the morbidity.    

I had been assigned to this cold, spring mattress for two weeks now; And up until today I had not been granted any signs of true recovery. My EKG would read lifeless if it could read beyond my bodily functions. Just as my chest did, I was caving in to the pressure of the other side. I felt guilty. I felt as a nuisance, a nuisance to the lives of my most gracious parents. No longer did they have each other, and now I am preparing to be the next failure. My consciousness only remained for one thing, the deep, intrinsic, inner joy I felt seeing my parents together in the same room having a joint concern. Although the situation was severe, I found the sight of them fantastic.

  “Would you like some coffee, Patrick?”     

She was speaking to him, not at him--the first time in seven years. She never wanted to, “give him any ideas.” It was foolish for her to think so, and even more foolish to uphold her disdain for him. The interaction prompted me to consider that instinctively I was the most distressed sight in the room, yet the grounded frown lines and depleting tuft of swarthy hair contrasted the rouge-dimpled, brawny presence of my father.

 Promptly at noon, the mid-day alleviation began to broaden my veins and un-focus my vision. As I watched my mother step out for coffee, I could not help but associate this with the memory of her leaving my father. My last conscious effort was scolding myself for a reminiscence like that. 

    12 hours passed and I was still out cold. Over, under, over, under, brush, brush. Marie played with her thumbs. The game quickly switched to counting.

Ten...nine...eight...seven......four...three...one. She started over again. Cogs clicking, medical metronomes, and even her own eyelids shutting and opening howled over her thoughts. 

“I am not happy.” 

    She conceded. Patrick responded by a look of comatose, worse than my own. His heart begged for this redemption for almost a decade now, but its arrival did not satisfy. As said before, the sterile, linoleum, hospital room is never pleasing or romantic. 

“Why?”     

His child-like response sufficed. Realizing her admission, Marie considered crafting a lie based on her feelings of my grave state or even completely ignoring a conversation ever began. Patrick did not beam or take advantage of her hopeful statement for as of late, he learned to tolerate despondence. 

“Are you happy?” 

    This spawned infuriation. In four seconds, more blood rushed to his head than that of my pallid body has in two weeks. Now, he heard the closing and shutting of his eyelids, murmuring radiator, and the exterior diagnoses. 

“What has changed?” 

He broke the noise within the silence. 

“What don’t you have now? Still searching for Enlightenment? Why have you come to me to direct your path? I am just a penniless bastard who believed in dedicating my existence in hopes of another doing the same. Instead, I’ve been punished. Is that what you want me to say? Is that how it should sound?”

    Marie understood she did not deserve unprejudiced discussion. She longed at my slumberous shape and abstained from doing the same to Patrick. The longing was always within her. Her foolish spirit and feral curiosity owned her from a young age, and she never allowed herself to quite grow out of it. Most marital dissolutions seem forecasted or later deducible but no one, no one, ever saw how, why, what, where, anything ever went wrong. Especially not I or my father. Simply one morning she announced she had signed a lease for an apartment in the neighboring town and the next day my father received the “papers” from a chatty co-worker. A wise person would have told that she would not end up the happy one in the situation. 

    She had almost forgotten how to talk to him, considering she spent the past 7 years talking at him or abusing her motherly power to send me as her messenger. 

“You...you are...you were...”

    She wanted a turning point in her statement.

“You never deserved my departure.” 

The honest simplicity of the statement struck Patrick. He still knew her, he still knew her just as well as he did when she was most dishonest. Her true moments of vulnerability were distinguishable, for she never was truly strong, otherwise she would of stayed. Or, at least most thought. 

“Of course I didn’t. I still torture myself because of it though.”

    Weeping, Marie stood up and reached to leave the room. Patrick grasped the artificial, oak, arm rests, and slightly lifted himself as if to stop her. He watched her walk out again. Instinctively, he went to belittling himself and what he could have said. He was only allowed to briefly do so because Marie was found to be back in the room before another beat crossed along my heart monitor. He hugged her. Something the two had always agreed upon as one of the most intimate affections. 

  I awoke to the snatching of bandages and familiar looking body parts. I was focused on breathing on my own, seeing crisply, and not wincing every other motion. It did not take long to notice the most significant improvement, something I imagine could not be medically attained to, my parents were sitting on the same side of my bed. It was not good. It was not romantic. But, it was pleasing.