I remember the weather that day because it was the weather that set us off on a course that we otherwise would not have travelled. Our early intimacy was a parasitic bloom that managed to flower when all the leaves were falling off the autumn trees. I arrived at your door and you pulled off my heavy fleece coat. It crackled with electricity as you traced the length of my arms from behind my back. You had little that counted as furniture. Your prepared a picnic dinner on the floor. We sat closer than people do on a first date, vying for the attention of your two-bar heater. You cooked for me. You passed quick glances between me and the stove as you stood in the kitchen doorway, leaning slightly against the frame. You chopped our conversation at various points to stir the pot. You made starters: toasted baguette topped with creamed spinach and cheese. I sank my teeth into these hard-soft, soggy-crispy pieces with laughter-embarrassment. I felt a flame reach my cheeks. I slunk back on the blanket – burning up – too close to the heater. I asked for water. I took a deep breath. I took two more before I realized; “what was in that?” I asked. A pointed accusation. “Some cream, some spinach, some minced mushroom …” Just hearing the word made it harder to breathe – “I’m allergic!” I grabbed my coat and ran out the door. I looked at myself in the rear-view mirror. I blew up like a pink bear. I ate mushrooms that day and you spent your entire life making up for it. What followed was a deluge of explanations and apologies.
You did anything – everything – for me.
We married. Meme was born and we never brought mushrooms into the house. She never tasted one in all of her three years of life. My Meme: the blood from my womb, the food from my belly, the milk from my breasts, the space from my heart. me=mycelium=me. No cord of separation. No continuation. An exact equation. I quit work. So you worked hard. You worked harder.
A playgroup excursion got cancelled and I arrived home early to a table laid out for two. A hasty effort at a surprise lunch, I thought: an empty take-out box, its contents spilt into two plates. Alfredo fettuccini still steaming – I scooped some up on a fork and took a sneaky bite before I went looking for you, expecting you to pop out from the kitchen. You were redressing when I found you. You were only half way back to respectably clad by the time I entered. It was hard to breathe. When I woke up Meme was staring down at me, her small hand against my nostrils. “You had a reaction,” you said. “To what?” I asked, to burn flecks into your eyes. “Mushrooms mummy mushrooms silly,” said Meme. “There were mushrooms in the pasta …” you said, “and we rushed you in…” I ate mushrooms that day and you spent your entire life making up for it. What followed was a deluge of explanations and apologies.
You did anything – everything – for me.
I ate them whole like crunchy apples in front of the TV. Our last little dirty secret: only you knew how accidental asphyxiation=deliberate death. An exact equation. I was mourned in public without shame. And you, too full of shame to mourn. I ate mushrooms that day and you spent your entire life making up for it. What followed was a deluge of explanations and apologies. Gestures now all made to Meme.
You did anything – everything – for her.
She dragged you out of bed and made you walk. You dove into Meme like a river. With time, the way Meme smiled made the flecks disappear from your eyes. But there was no cord of separation. No continuation. Only an exact equation.
She had left you by the stream and walked alone in the forest. She looked startled when I came to her. “Are you a fairy?” she asked innocently. “Yes,” I said. I plucked it off the ground and offered it to her … “so you can see me all the time”. She swallowed it without stopping to dust off the sand. She crawled as far as your arms, before she collapsed and died. Accidental asphyxiation. Meme ate mushrooms that day and you spent your entire life making up for it. But there was no one to receive the deluge of explanations and apologies.
You lived until the day you fell like a tree in pain.