from manuscript in progress

I Catherine, useless, entrust myself to you; with a desire to see us transformed in that sweet pure truth, that cleanses us of every falsehood and lie.

Catherine is a liar.

When she was three, she whispered in her babysitter’s multiply pierced ear and thereafter spent every midnight in front of the tv, scarfing rosebud chocolates and lemonade. She doesn’t remember what she whispered.

She can smile shyly at you and all discernment tumbles off your cortex, flakes away until you only see the smile, the slip of upcurved lip, her gentle eyes, an overwhelm of sweetness.

She lies so often that it’s difficult to find her in what she says, so everyone that knows her has an entirely different version of I, Catherine, each convincing.

She is lying now. She is lying in front of an entire classroom full of hazy eyed students. She is telling them everything will be okay. She is speaking in tongues.


She works overnight shifts at a convenience store.

The New York City Ballet book is laid open beside her, she stretches and elongates her fingers, her calves, pulses her stomach upwards, holds and continues holding. Smooth thighs, thin skinning, distill, distill. A rabbit skinned and left in butcher shop window. Bulgy black eyed.


once in Paris, she found a store that sold only music boxes, of every shape and description, intricate beautiful carved into rosewood ; shiny lacquered imports from China; small plasticky geese magnets circling a pond.

She couldn’t afford a single thing in the window. She didn’t know how many francs she had or how much a franc was worth. She wasn’t even entirely sure where she was, only that she had run from him and had somehow veered towards Sainte Chapelle, her favourite church, which was like stepping into a jewel box and had somehow ended up on a splinter of a street, staring at beautiful mechanical things that spun around and around, ceaselessly. She stood there a while. The weather was warm and she could hear the burble of larger streets. She craved scoops of creamy Berthilion ice cream and wondered how long the line.

She paid careful attention to one delicate turquoise ballerina, remembering how she sometimes dreamt the fairy tale with the tin soldier and the ballerina and in the dream she didn’t know if she was the silent ballerina or the stalwart tin soldier, only that she howled as she was tossed into the giddy bright flames and that the little melted tin heart continued weeping and melting after being pulled from the ashes and the wails were a kind of air raid siren that shattered all the windows and even crumbled the foundations so that an entire neighbourhood of houses fell together, in one exhausted exasperated sigh.

She wakes up from these dreams laughing, every time, and doesn’t know why. She bites her fingers to keep from sobbing.


once or twice per year, the stomach hurts and folds itself into thirds, for all she’s done to it. Before, he would hold her and rub his hand across her belly in bed, and she would cry at her own stupidity and he would kiss her shoulder. And she wouldn’t mind his hand on her belly. She didn’t even pull her stomach in.

The first time the pain returned after he’d gone, Catherine curled herself up and screamed into her knees.  Then she tore every book on her shelf, at least once on at least one page and also tore chunks of pages from the bindings and left whole anthologies shredded.  She tore them into bits and then boxed up the bits and then left the boxed up bits stuck behind the thesis section of the university library, close to the wall.


She cut out the window screen of her third floor room using a pair of scissors, leaving scraggly wired ends. There were no lights and when the sky went that sickly orange midnight colour, she sometimes straddles the sill, one leg dangling out the window, the other clamped to the inside. She will look out in one direction and dream and none of it really matters anyways what she did or didn’t and she’s nearly fallen asleep like that, more than once. And the trees grow in the dimness, dripping black thick lines, they look lonesome but aren’t because they’re just trees. Sick orange infuses the sky.

The laptop flicks the only intermittent artificial light, a multicoloured cube folding itself over and over and into itself and then changing direction and then the same thing all over again only slower or faster.


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