Archive for January, 2008

His Memory Heart

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Mosquito Netting

My boyfriend has a baseball card that he carries in his wallet. It’s faded and sentimental, sort of cheap in the cardboard. I wish it were mine.

On vacation, after sex, I drape my hand over the bed and dangle it just over his crumpled pants. My fingers scramble over the fabric until I’m close enough to pickpocket the pocket and there between some gift cards and faded receipts I find it and feel rich. There’s a crease through the player’s face so the card can’t be valuable anymore but I wonder anyway of its worth and flip it around in circles. It’s actually so wonderful that I have to roll over and show him what I’ve pinched so he’ll say what he says which is

“Why’d you get that out?”

Because then I have to own up to it,

“I was just thinking about it.”

Then him, well,

“Are you going to put it back?”

In that way that means he wishes I would. Of course, I say, I will and I do.

We are in a foreign country under mosquito netting. The first night we were so scared that we tucked the netting under our rocky mattress but tonight it flies free at my feet, room for any number of snakes and scorpions, malaria-infestations and eradicated diseases. I need him to talk again to remember that he is a real person and not this idea of a man with a wallet nostalgia. I regret returning the card, even though it was the right thing for the relationship.

I would wake him but he’s so tired, my boyfriend. There’s a fan in the corner that clicks once every three counts. When it’s turned to my right. There won’t be much sleep and I think of using the card as a bookmark, as a toothpick, as a decoration in an ornate frame with oversize matting. I think of driving to the airport and kissing him over the gears. One of us didn’t want that kiss but that’s the way it is sometimes.

In the morning I am working over a plate of fruit with funny skins. You have to crack them apart for the meat, then lick your fingers and spit the seeds. It’s satisfying but probably wrong to do. I had to get over that self-consciousness in order to travel. The seeds fly across the table and into the weeds.

“Where’s my wallet?” says my boyfriend.

“Your pocket probably,” I say. He’s wearing the same pants from yesterday. I am too, come to think of it. We don’t have much in the way of pants.

“It’s not here,” he says. “You had it last night.”

“No, I didn’t,” I say.

“You had the card,” he says.

“I put it back,” I say.

“In my wallet,” he says.

“Right,” I say. “Then back in your pants. It’s probably in the guesthouse. Don’t look like you don’t have it.”

“Because why?” he says. “Because then someone might think we’re a target and steal it again?”

“Oh,” I say, because he’s cranky and sarcastic. The coffee isn’t good here so sometimes we both react badly in the mornings. Once we missed a ferry and I cried. We’re very white and dependent.

I spit one more seed, far as I can, then I get up and wipe my hands. I walk back to the guesthouse alone and sort through my bag to make sure that my important things are still there, like the American cash and the emergency numbers. Turning back around I spy the wallet easily, just where I left it the previous night, heaped on my boyfriend’s discarded shirt. I pick up the shirt and hang it over the doorknob, then hold the wallet in my flat palm. He’s still eating and sulking but I wish he were here to take the wallet from me.

Not then but a few years later I take the card from his wallet. It’s actually the day he asks me to marry him but I don’t know that when I take the card. I do it while he’s in the shower and I’m a little mad about some painting he did while I was visiting my mother. I mean I’d said blue was good for that part of the kitchen but everyone knows there are many shades of blue.

When I take the card I want to do about five things to it all at once, some with water and some with fire, but instead I just have it in my back pocket and we go to dinner, cheap so I don’t suspect, and that’s where he brings out this ring and points it in my direction and I feel all the creases in my skin, the paleness in my eyes.