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Tuesday 1 January 2013

Meg Tuite

Abraham Lincoln was really a woman

That’s what the headline read while waiting in line for a pack of Marlboro Lights, even though I’d quit a couple years before meeting you, found myself aching for the tension that stretched a life into something closer to death, the flash of a cigarette head sucked into orange embers before ash. I was a gaping smile staring at the photo of Lincoln-him next to Lincoln-her on the cover of the Enquirer, less surprised about Lincoln’s gender than the desire for you.

When I first honed in on you, a hum of voices, surround-sound on couches and chairs in my little hut melded together while I studied the soft angle of your lunacy that racked up everyone in the room with this sweet glow that had them all wishing they had more secrets to unwrap. A holiday of bloody scars and basements.

I told you I had this hand-held massager that would kill the pain in your back in my bedroom. You said, it hurt. Yeah, everything hurts, I said. I kissed you that night and breathed in your hair while you twitched and sobbed. You tore open a whole lifetime of presents that should have had me groping for a lamp. Instead, I had never been closer to my core. I saw my dad’s adam’s apple rising like a prowler beneath his beard, mom pounding dough like someone who’d never been kneaded and rolled.

The next day you pulled the covers up to your chin, dragged your clothes under the blanket and dressed like an Amish person. I was sure that’s what Lincoln had to do. Life is a nightmare of bullshit, you said, as you took out a stretch of pills from your jean pocket. You’re face sucked dry from alcohol, pores now vagrant in the morning light as round and brilliant as the stars in a desert night sky. You grabbed a beer from the fridge and swallowed it down with the pills. It was 10:12 in the morning. I took a sip and licked your neck, pulled you to me. You flinched.

Your being trembled, your eyes were glass. You shake too, you said. I tried to remain unattached to my body. Fuck you, I thought. I smirked and held my head erect.

So next thing I heard was that your trailer blew up and you were homeless. I didn’t want to take you in. I saw corners and crevices of my childhood on every wrinkle gutted in your face. You cried and clutched me, so I caved. I bought your favorite whiskey and we eyed each other from across the couch as we slugged it down, back and forth, and then swamped each other barren.

Soon, I was entrenched in a Civil War. I threw you out. You broke the window and screamed for hours outside in the yard. Now everyone was watching me. You didn’t care if they watched you. I could have been president for all the attention my town bestowed on me.

I was enslaved for two years. Your captivity was your weapon. I paid your bail after you kicked the double-thick glass through in the squad car with your boot, handcuffed after blasting through a case of beer and a bottle of vodka. These cops were animals, you screeched. One cop looked at me. He was at least three hundred pounds to your emaciated one hundred pounds of terrorism. Would you attack me, he asked? Over and over until I had to taser you? I shook my head no.

Lincoln went to the theatre one night and was shot in the back of the head. You came back to me over a month later, fifty pounds heavier from drugs the doctor gave you. You barely spoke. I found empty bottles in your coat pockets in the closet.

When your birthday arrived I had a party. There was a group inside surrounding you. The darkness came easily to us then. We told our tales of incest, rape and beatings, trying to out do you with graphic details. You didn’t add anything but a nod once or twice. Just watched us through a sliver of you. You went out for a smoke at some point. The war was over.

It wasn’t an hour or so before someone noticed you were missing. She went out and called your name. She saw a figure in the moonlight that could have been man or woman. You had an electrical cord attached to the shed around your neck and had passed out kneeling, strangled.

Everyone was crazed with grief, clutching and exclaiming around me, but I knew. This was your proclamation you’d been working on since the day you were born.
Meg Tuite is half Irish and lives in the desert. Her blog:

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