Not every ache or pain is age related. And not every pain can be numbed, even by prescription. Here are three paragraphs about pain not numbed in someone not yet old. I call the three paragraphs a story, although the beginning of the story precedes the three paragraphs and the story has no end. Which I suppose is the point. There is no end.
I didn’t write it. I wish I had. To me it says everything there is to say about what it’s about. Which (I think) makes it impressive, if unconventional, writing. Yes, it’s by Lydia Davis again. [From The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, Picador paperback edition, pp. 170-171.] I know some of you found her hard to take when I posted about her before. But this piece really got to me, so I thought I’d try again. It’s not very long. See how you feel about it.
Wife One in Country
Wife one calls to speak to son. Wife two answers with impatience, gives phone to son of wife one. Son has heard impatience in voice of wife two and tells mother he thought caller was father’s sister: raging aunt, constant caller, troublesome woman. Wife one wonders: is she herself perhaps another raging woman, constant caller? No, raging woman but not constant caller. Though, for wife two, also troublesome woman.
After speaking to son, much disturbance in wife one. Wife one misses son, thinks how some years ago she, too, answered phone and talked to husband’s raging sister, constant caller, protecting husband from troublesome woman. Now wife two protects husband from troublesome sister, constant caller, and also from wife one, raging woman. Wife one sees this and imagines future wife three protecting husband not only from raging wife one but also from troublesome wife two, as well as constantly calling sister.
After speaking to son, wife one, often raging though now quiet woman, eats dinner alone though in company of large television. Wife one swallows food, swallows pain, swallows food again. Watches intently ad about easy to clean stove: mother who is not real mother flips fried egg onto hot burner, then fries second egg and gives cheerful young son who is not real son loving kiss as spaniel who is not real family dog steals second fried egg off plate of son who is not real son. Pain increases in wife one, wife one swallows food, swallows pain, swallows food again, swallows pain again, swallows food again.
P.S. If “Wife One” is at all to your taste, you may enjoy some of the quiet musings of one of the WordPress bloggers I follow. She identifies herself as JMPod, and her blog is Original Pea. I don’t know if she’s read Lydia Davis, but some of her short pieces remind me of Davis. What she writes is often not upbeat. Although she does say she writes mainly for her own pleasure, it would be great if more people found her. Some things can’t be fixed. But it helps when you can write about them and other people read what you write.