Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In which I give myself a black eye and almost everyone at work won't look at me or say anything

I wrote this story several years ago. What I left out is that when I went to work on Monday, still with a black eye, almost nobody said anything. My first thought when I see someone I know with a huge black eye is to do what my boss did, which is to ask, "What the heck happened to you?"

But the liberated, swaggering, field-hockey scholarship female VP of my department, who never met clogs or ugly shoes she did not like, averted her eyes when she saw me at the coffee station. We chatted for a few minutes, probably about how she had spent the weekend cleaning her house even though she had a stay at home husband and two teenage daughters - but the maid had quit! what was she supposed to do? - and not once did she say, "Wow! That's quite a shiner! How does the other guy look?"

Nope. She looked at the floor, behind me, over my head, everywhere but at my HUGE BLACK EYE while she was talking to me.

Even if she thought that a boyfriend had beat me up, shouldn't she have said, "You know, you can get help. You don't have to stay in an abusive relationship?" [Not quite sure where to put that question mark. The whole sentence is a question but the latter phrase is a statement.]

Now the story:

Friday night, I wake up to use the bathroom. The next thing I know, I am lying on the floor by the window. The first thought that flashes through my mind disgusts me because it is such a cliché, but I think, "Where am I?"

Really. Can't I be more original than that?

I am dizzy and nauseated and my head hurts and my hip hurts. As I pull myself up, I realize that I must have fallen, my left cheekbone striking the windowsill as I fell. I must have landed on my left hip. My neck must have snapped when my head hit, because those muscles hurt. I could have put my eye out!

I make it back into bed and do not sleep well the rest of the night. The next morning, I have a red patch on my cheek and a little swelling, but it doesn't look so bad. My hip hurts, but not badly enough to be an excuse not to run. I run six miles.

When I get home, I notice that my eye is starting to turn lavender. As the day wears on, my eye and my cheek get puffier and more colorful. I hold a bag of frozen cranberries to my cheek in hopes of preventing further discoloration, but to no avail. I keep my sunglasses on when I go to the grocery store and the library. I don't want anyone to think my nonexistent boyfriend beat me up. I would never take physical abuse. Just emotional.

I wonder what happened. I don't remember falling. Did I pass out and then fall? Did I just slip? If I had slipped, wouldn't I have felt myself fall and stopped it?

I must have passed out. But why? Maybe I have a brain tumor. It could be a tumor!

Hmm. If it's a brain tumor, I could have one of those non-disfiguring terminal Hollywood diseases. In the movies, any time anyone gets a terminal disease, she just becomes more beautiful and luminous as she dies, inspiring everyone with her bravery. No one ever looks bad in the movies, no matter what. They obviously don't know what chemo is really like.

Anyhow. What if I have a brain tumor and am going to die? Maybe I could get Ted [not Primo's half-brother Ted but a different Ted, whom I should re-name and maybe I did, but now I can't remember] back. He would hear the news (how? I need to figure this part out) and realize that he did indeed love me and we didn't have much time. He would rush to my side, beg my forgiveness and ask to remain with me until the end.

I would torture him for a little while, of course, but not too long. He deserves some punishment, after all. But then I would relent and take him back and we would live happily ever after.

Until I died six months later.

This is where the fantasy needs some work.

When I go to church on Sunday, my eye is still colorful. I tell everyone I got in a fight. That afternoon, I go to some open houses. After ten minutes with one realtor, who keeps looking at me sideways, she looks at my eye and says, "My ex used to beat me, too."

"I fell!" I tell her.

"It looks like you fell into someone's fist!" she replies.

"I promise, I fell," I say.

"Oh, honey," she sighs. "My ex-husband used to beat me. I know. I know."

"I don't even have a boyfriend!" I protest, but she is unswayed and proceeds to tell me the story of her second marriage and her drug-abusing, wife-beating, philandering surgeon husband. The first husband opened a strip joint nine years into their marriage.

"After that second divorce -- which I got nine months after I got married, which is really embarrassing -- I decided I wanted nothing to do with men for a long, long time," she finishes.

I insist that is not what happens but she doesn't care.