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Day Number 29
As She Lay Dying

I came to know this particular Livejournal blog (diary applies better) a few years back when I first started scanning the medium and discovering it to be in large part an uninteresting slog through labyrinthine canyons in the shape of navels. This one’s navel had enough to spare for Arizona’s canyons, but it had something more about it: an exploration not just of self but of the self as part of a love-hate triangle, the other two points of which were the writer’s father and mother. I was struck at first for purely selfish reasons, thinking, Could this be the way my daughter looks at me, or will look at me, one day? Discovering on the writer’s livejournal profile that she was born the very same day my daughter was didn’t help. But the level of dysfunction unraveling in Hanna’s life—Hanna being her name, though try as she may to be Woody Allen’s namesake her sisters are nonexistent: she’s an only child—was more than even I, in my rich capacities as the overbearing and hyper-wrapped father of an adolescent daughter, could breed. It’s an odd feeling to read something as it unfolds, knowing you’re watching the sculpting of emotional wreckage, shard by jagged shard. I’d forget about the thing for months on end. But every few months I’ve checked the bookmark to see if the story was still thickening. It has been. Then this event, a month ago, that brought on the entry below, whose genesis is this: Hanna is French but writes in English. She’s a college student in England, her parents live, or rather lived, in Brussels after living in Paris—a descent to hell by any standard, if you know Brussels. Her father, one month ago, after what seems to have been a drag-out all-nighter of a fight with his daughter, or something like it, disappeared the next day to end up in a hotel room, popping pills and drinking whiskey: suicide. Just like that. The following entry dates from a couple of days back. It has a raw literary and emotional quality that puts it somewhere between “As I Lay Dying,” the inner monologue of a Chekhovian character and what dime novels might be found these days in the Gare Montparnasse. It’s gut-wrenching and disturbing for its intimacy and immediacy. It dares the reader not to be implicated. I couldn’t bring myself to read it whole, though it’s reproduced here as it originally appeared, stylistic idiosyncrasies, lacunas and all, from the original. Only the font, impenetrable in the original, has been changed.

Day Number 29

Fine i’ll make an effort this time, let’s go to Ikea, and i’ll drive. Walk we are walking thru the store. The legs are responding. My mom asks me which colour i would prefer for the new office bin she wants to buy, and i answer in a tone that suggests that i’m truely interested. It’s only been five minutes but i’m exhausted like i expected to be. Shit. I look around, we are in the bathroom section of Ikea, fuck. Ah great we’re going to the stool and carpet section, i find a stool and sit down, ah. Damn i feel old. But i’m 20. A little girl passing looks at me funny, the way i sat down, she must’ve thought i was a granny, but my appearance suggested otherwise, she’s confused, a granny in a 20 year old’s body surely. Mom’s looking attentively at all the different colours of the stool cover things we want to buy. She asks for my opinion, i continue trying to look interested, i tell her she should get whatever she wants. She says i look tired. I tell her i’m alright, and that i like blue, but that she should get whichever one she wants. Yea i’m my Dad i slowly start to realise. That’s great to know. Especially great to find out this explicitly 29 days after the bastard swallowed lots of pills with whisky in a sordid cheap hotel room. I stand up because we are moving. I start touching all the carpet materials in the aisle we’re in like a kid. I touch everything like a fucking kid but don’t realise that i’m doing it. We pass thru the children’s bedrooms’ section, lots of gay loud children running around, a little girl looking really really focused while touching candles of various colours and trying to classify them apparently. Mom’s in front of me, she’s tiny and deadly skinnier than before, a pack of bones officially, she turns around and smiles at me saying Ain’t it funny how kids get really focused about things and start classifying stuff by colour and all, that little girl looks really serious. I smile back, Yea i know, i still do that too tho. My mom laughs. We didn’t find what she was looking for in Ikea, so we leave. It’s raining really hard and my mom wants to wait inside for a while. I say Aw come on, god i like the rain. It’s very cliché but these days i just want to stand in the wind and rain, actually. Put your hood on she says, i say I’m alright. God i like the rain and wind. I wish i could tell her i just wanna stand there. But we’re in the middle of a depressing fucking parking with people around. So i don’t want to anymore. I look up, it’s pretty grey, it’s darker grey that way, and white over there. The rain’s very hard. We’re going to another furniture place. A place where they have four furniture stores in a row. Fuck. I don’t want to be here. Didn’t want to. But like Grandma said, Do it for Mom. This morning Mom asked me if i wanted to do something special today. Of course i didn’t. I don’ t like leaving the house. Physically can’t sometimes. But i could see it in her eyes she was indirectly begging me. Why couldn’t she just fucking say it. She always did things like that. Always had to formulate things a certain way, when really she could just fucking say Hey will you do me favour. Yea fine i’ll pretend i really do want to go. So we went. And i drove. Fucking dark grey car. Why did we have to pick dark grey, i always told Dad i hated that and why did he have to pick dark grey it’s so ugly our cars have always been dark blue i love blue. Second store. I walk around a bit but same situation, i desperately look around for a chair of some kind. There we go, a eight hundred and ten euros’ hideous leather sofa. I hate it, it’s slippery and uncomfortable. Ah but it’ll do the trick there’s nothing else in this shitty posh store. I put my right foot on my left knee. Shit that was hard. Shit Dad always sat like that. Fuck it lots of people sit like that. Next store, crappy wooden chair. Uncomforable but it’ll do the trick. I spread my legs. I rub my knees, they hurt. Cross my arms. Shit, Dad used to sit like that too. My poor tired old man. I can just see him. Oh i can just fucking see him up there in my head. And i’m like him. Fact is i’ll never fucking see him again fucking sit like that. It’s funny how you realise things too late. I am my Dad, wow. It’s as if only now i truely understand each of his looks, his positions. I did before as well, even tho the last time i spoke to him i harshly told him there never had been genuine unsuperficial real honest understanding, like a sickly bitter ungrateful13 year old cunt that i am who deserves to be raped and cut in millions of pieces and thrown in the river or let rot in a forest, i said it as harshly as i could, i did that bitter disgusted lip thing that we both knew how to do so well, and he looked at me sadly and said Wow, 20 years, what a waste, but Daddy, of course there had been comprehension i’m sorry Daddy of course there had of course there had you knew that right you knew i didn’t mean it right, you did right, you did right, of course he did oh please ah he did he did he did, right? - but now it’s a hundred percent certain because i don’t notice it but now i do and it’s clear like what a message from god must feel like, i am officially the same, i am François P[...] in Hanna’s body. Well wow. White or blue my mother asks me? I almost jump up, i didn’t see her coming, i was lost in thoughts. I don’t notice i stare at things, it’s cliché but i realise it’s true and extreme, i started looking thru a flemish kids’ book and actually started reading it, five minutes i actually become conscious of the fact that i’m holding a book, that it’s a kids’ book and that it’s in fucking flemish and that i’ve been reading it for the past five minutes and that i don’t understand flemish at all, not a single word. Do i look like i can possibly fucking care mother? I look up at her and she can tell. She used to look at Dad that way too sometimes. I’m a selfish cunt. So i sit up straight and say Mom i really don’t know, pick whatever colour you want really. This is what family is about. It’s too hard but you fucking do it for others. You fucking sit up straight, and even tho you’re evil in your cunthead, you make a FUCKING EFFORT, as hard as it is. Yea it got too hard for my dad. And i understand him. Yes i fucking understand him, that’s the worse part. The last dinner we had together, Mom was on about again about i don’t know what, Dad and i used to look at each other sometimes, in a quarter of a second he would tell me not to sigh, he would tell me he also knew she had already said the same thing last dinner, or before during the day, but my dad loved my mom i think. He did. But that last dinner we had together, four weeks and two days ago, Saturday nite 6pm, Dad burst out “Claudiiiie ça fait mille fois que tu dis ça!” Claudiiie it’s been a million times you said that. Yes. On the moment i was shocked by the fact that my dad didn’t keep it in this time, he had told me it was getting worse since i had left. To fill in the silence and emptiness at dinner. What do you expect, my poor ma. She never was happy my poor ma. But my poor dad, i know it wasn’t fun, i know how he would’ve preferred utter silence and peace. My poor ma. So yea, he blurt it out that last dinner. Mom turns around and goes out to look more. I stretch my legs out again. Two women pass by. Careful for the girls’ feet the younger one tells her mother. I look up. I move my feet a bit for the old lady. It’s funny, i could’ve been a dead corpse the daughter would have said it the same way. Careful Ma there’s a body in the middle of the road, make sure you don’t trip when you pass next to it ok? We’ll got a coffee after we buy our new soap. We leave, this is the fourth furniture store we’ve done, and i’m pretty sure it’s the last one. We go outside, it’s raining. I like it. I start heading back to the car. Oh there’s another one over there! my mom tells me. Oh you have to be fucking kidding me. Mom this is the fifth one. My shoulders feel like they’ll fall on the ground. It’s hard walking. I bend my head back and do a little circle, my neck and back are gone again. Aw Hanna i’m sorry this is the last one. So it goes. We enter the store. Sofa sofa sofa chair chair chair aah. Sit down. I want to cry. I miss my daddy. I’m gonna miss the fucking fucking bastard. I am missing the fucking fucking bastard. Ah my daddy. Oh i miss you my daddy oh i miss you oh i miss you oh i miss you oh i am missing you you bastard. Ah. Ah. Ah. Aaaah. Oh. Oh i am missing you so bad.Ah. Well the blue ones are a bit crappy i feel, oh mother do i look like i can possibly care. Ah you look tired my Hanna. Symphonie Five of Mahler is ringing in my ears and i wish i could disappear, right there on this chair. It’s not cool when it hurts to be alive. Fucking elevator music. Why do they fucking bother, do they WANT people to be depressed, can’t stand this low volume shit jazz. I am Enid, i am François. In Ikea it was Dido. Ah we used to laugh about Dido with Dad, because in French you would pronounce it Deedo, when you’re supposed to say Daydo. I told Mom that, i said, Aha Dad would’ve gone “Oh c’est DAYdo!” Oh i want to die. I ACTUALLY want to die. It sucks. It’s a shitty feeling. I don’t know what i should do with it. I’d love to kick it in the ass. But it’s there, it’s above my head going HIHIHIHIHIHIHI. Sometimes it’s under my feet. Sometimes it’s in the sweat in my hands.

We finally came home, i sat in the car seat and felt like i could never move again. I felt bad so i asked a stupid question, Oh so you’re seeing the notary tomorrow, she goes on for a while but i am nooot listening, but i only realise that i am not listening at all after like ten minutes. My neck is dying so i let my head fall back, my eyes fall on security informations written in french flemish english spanish and german. We get home. I’m officially cranky now. I lock myself in the computer room, listen to Interpol’s Directon 3 times, Ghost World’s piano Theme twice, Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas twice and Gustav Mahler’s 5th Symphonie 4 or 5 times. Lose it. Getting more and more into instrumental stuff. Then dinner. God this is gonna be hard. But i do it and keep it under control. Suddenly i’m scratching my forehead with both of my hands staring down at my food and Mom smiles and says Dad used to do that. I barely have it under control but i ask something stupid because i can tell the silence is too hard for my mom. Not listening. I look in front of me but my Daddy isn’t here. He’s not on the other side of the table. My knees aren’t bumping in his like usual. He’s not looking down at his food or looking out the window. Suddenly i’m the one staring outside the window. Suddenly i realise i really am not listening, and i realise Mom isn’t even noticing how obvious it is that i’m not listening to her. I start scratching my forehead with both of my hands again, looking at my pasta. I am not here. I am not. here. Problem is where i am, well Dad isn’t there either. But i see him. But don’t really. I want him to look at me. My daddy really isn’t there. He is not. fucking there. I am alone. I am not present, and i am alone as well. Completely alone. Suddenly i look at my mom for a second, i can’t hear her, shit it reminds me of my dad, i notice just now how he used to do that. I would usually eat looking at my food, and would see my dad asking a silly question, she would go on and he would look down at his food and eat it, and go Mmm, Oh yea?, Mm, and today it fucking hit me in my face, my daddy wasn’t there. My daddy was completely completely lost in his thoughts as well. More and more. I felt so close to him tonite, because i kept realising afterhand that every single thing i was doing, it was exactly what my dad was doing, it was exactly how he was acting. Why does everything happen too late, i could throw this lamp out the window, or better, break the fucking window myself. What thoughts i wonder. Thoughts of dying too. Oh my fucking daddy, my fucking daddy, oh my daddy my daddy my daddy my daddy my daddy. Suddenly i try to snap out of it for my mother, i realise she’s been quiet for a while, then she lightly says Oh do you know what happened to Amandine’s knee? and i just burst out this time, i grab my head in my two hands again and say I don’t caaaaaare Momma.......... She freezes. Well i won’t say anything anymore she says. Vexed. Ah it’s the good ol’ Momma. I am Dad and she knows he’s in me, it probably kills her. Silence for a while. She’s vexed. I stand up to take care of the dishes. I make noise, almost throw the plate i have in my hands against the radiator, i want to above everything. I almost start washing a first plate but i start crying. I try to stop but it doesn’t stop. I eventually drop everything go to my room in my bed, and i wouldn’t have known but i cried for an entire fucking hour ‘til there was salt on my face around my eyes. Biggest breakdown since it happened i think. Big one there tonite. I kicked everything, i hit my pillow repeatedly on my head, i tried to rip out my face with my hands, i pinched my thigh very hard, i tried to bite one of my fingers, and i cried growled drooled and coughed ‘til i couldn’t move. And it’d stop half a second and i’d think Oh it’s over now maybe, but it’d start over again for half an hour. This is the end i’d think, this is death itself, hopefully i can choke and die, thought of trying to suffocate myself with my pillow. My mom eventually showed up and it was obviously killing her seeing me like this. My face hurts again like 29 days ago. My eyes have blown up, my eyes hurt cause of the salt, my lips are red and popping up, my legs and back and neck hurt so bad. I want to die. I aactually, want to die. I hope it passes. I think i’m dying.

I want my daddy.

My poor Daddy. I am sorry my poor poor poor poor poor Daddy. I am fucking sorry. I am fucking sorry. I am fucking sorry. I am fucking sorry. Dad dad dad dad dad

Mon papaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

i want to die. i’m sorry but i do.

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