The days are filled with doctors, counselling, lawyers, and writing it down.
Yesterday I walked into the room downstairs where Big Dog used to sleep after he became too large to sleep on my bed. I can smell him, I told J. That warm Big Dog smell that filled the whole room when I walked into it first thing in the morning to let him out into the garden. He would very gently take my forearm between his jaws in greeting, while his tail joyously whacked the floor. I loved his smell, like I loved the smell of my new babies. I would give anything for either of those smells, right now.
The white rabbit that suddenly appeared in our garden a couple of months ago is still here. It likes to sleep on Big Dog’s grave under the mango tree. It follows us when we’re in the garden, wants to be stroked but when J picked it up the other day, it mauled her. Even rabbits have their boundaries and are entitled to defend them.
Two nights ago, I slept for thirty minutes. I couldn’t shut up my head. A phrase kept running through it. I want my body back. I want my body back. I want my body back. I made use of the time writing it down, not that phrase but the statement of events I have to prepare to speak for the police.
As an undergraduate, or was it in my Honours year, I studied a unit on narratology. It was the most boring thing I’ve ever studied, outside of statistics in psychology. I wrote at the beginning of my essay: Narratology is the most boring thing I’ve ever studied. I got a high distinction, my argument was so convincing. But anyways, where I am going with this is, when one writes it down one becomes a narrator and that is a completely different experience from being a speaker. Or, as Roland Barthes would have it in Death of the Author, “As soon as a fact is narrated…disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his [sic] own death, writing begins.”
I have never before been in such a unique position to observe the difference between writing it down, and speaking it. When I speak it to my counsellor and my doctors, emotions overwhelm me. When I write it down the narrator comes to my rescue, disconnecting me from emotions. A character is born: she is the I who writes, the creator who is the organising principle.
The I who speaks it has no such organising principle. The detective, who is one of the most kind yet firm individuals I’ve ever met, explains to me the necessity of allowing the counsellor to take me through the emotions until I can speak it without collapse, because I will have to speak it when I make the statement of events. The counsellor can be with me when I do this. It will take a long time, he says. Maybe several days but I do not have to do it alone and the counsellor will stop it if I falter.
Just now, I am stuck at one point in writing it down.The narrator is wavering under the pressure of the emotions of the I who speaks. The phrase causing all this trouble is not mine, but his. “I’m not really doing this,” he said, in the car in the bush by the lake. “I’m not really doing this,” he said as he did.
Did he say this to me? To himself? Who was the subject of his enunciation?
If ever I was upset about anything, Big Dog would not let me out of his sight. If he were here now he would let me lie down with him for as long as I wanted. Somewhere under the house are the remnants of his bed. Yesterday, I spoke of shame. There is, I told the doctor, a shame that is entirely to do with being a woman, and being fuckable. You are so sexy, said the man as he kneaded my breast. Were I not, in his perception, so sexy, I wouldn’t have been there in the car in the bush by the lake. I would not now be writing it down. It does a woman no good to be so sexy.
I must think more about this woman shame, this shame we can carry just for being female without, much of the time, even knowing that we carry it.
The white rabbit is gazing at me through my study window. It’s raining. J is upstairs making chicken soup, and I would give anything to once again smell my new-born babies’ heads.