Nana fidgeted a bit and then looked out of the window carefully, with “grace”. She was aware that he was watching her. Her body absorbed his imaginary gaze. Sensing and filling the space to match his expectation of her. How much of her was too much, and where was she just not enough? She collected the subtle reactions of his body in order to perfect hers. Like a one-celled organism she added and subtracted herself to the model of his expected perfection.
Picking up an apple she bit into it deliberately. Not too fast, making sure not to show her enjoyment. She ignored the taste of the apple; recognition of the sweet juice pouring down her throat would disturb her compulsory appearance. Her fingers tensed. Turning the apple around to face the whole unbitten side of the fruit. Slowly. Speed would seem greedy. And greedy girls turn into fat women, eventually. Mother. Nausea. Disgust fills her mind. “Mother eats with so much ease. So messy. So careless. It’s revolting: she lets herself just enjoy food, as if it was of no consequence, a mere necessity, nothing more. Like a pig. Her thighs, so fat. Her arms, so large they smell of flesh. I will escape this determination. I will be more graceful,” thinks Nana. “I will not let myself get out of hand like she did. I will not age into contentment, into the resigned flesh of a woman.” Mother.
Neck. Apple. Throat. Moist underarms. Hot hands. Realizing that her face must have shown the signs of tension and disgust Nana quickly snaps out of these thoughts. She paces her breathing, slowing down to look more even, smoother. Breasts wide. Chin high. She does not let apple bites linger behind her cheeks; that would interfere with the lines of her face.
She feels that he keeps staring at her. She is satisfied with the embodiment of his vision of her. Nana fixes her skirt casually and places the apple pit on her desk. Slowly closes her notebook. She picks up her bag and quietly leaves the room. Taking his gaze with her. She walks down the hall. She feels victorious. Her frame suffocates her. She cries herself to sleep so that no one hears.
Years later when they find his body buried by the lake, bloated and unrecognizable, she freezes like a short-circuited appliance. She does not cry. She simply stops. All read her silence as mourning, but as she passes pointlessly through rooms she only feels her contours disappearing. At the funeral everyone looks at her in the hope of some gratification, in the hopes of grounding their sorrows—all the unfulfilled futures. The narratives that would have—would never have happened anyway—now become deposited in her already hollowed body. These futures become memorialized, they become truer than the truth itself. They all stare at her and mourn. “I wish you were pregnant with his child,” his mother tells her with tears in her eyes. “You would have had such beautiful children.”
Nana stops eating. “You know he was planning to marry you in the spring,” reveals his sister as if granting her the immaterial prize of a cancelled tournament. Nana stares at her confused. “What am I suppose feel?” she thinks to herself. Suddenly she becomes very nauseous. When she is done she rinses her mouth and wipes her face. “So young, so beautiful, and so sad,” they all think in chorus as she walks out of the bathroom.
Observing the living room from this angle she suddenly remembers something. Two nights ago she had a dream. She dreamt of the funeral, the coffin, his body, immovable, still. She was standing in exactly the same spot when he suddenly sat up and without stepping out of the coffin directed his hands at her. His face already bloated and unrecognizable, he cried from his mutilated eyes when she did not respond. Nana did not meet his embrace. She woke up in horror and despair. Now as she stands at the same place as she did in the dream, stared at by the room full of unmet determinations directed at her, the same fear overcame her. She stared back. She thought of the expression used to measure the optimistic and pessimistic viewpoint. “Is the glass half empty or half full?” she said in a mocking voice in her head. How stupid people are to amuse themselves with these idiotic metaphors. Some even start arguments on the basis of this dumb rhetorical measure of their useless hope(lessness). Well who gives a fuck really, if YOU are the glass in question! I suppose then it doesn’t really matter, does it?
Later when she faints and her fingers lock in an ugly clench they all hover over her bed. “Honey you should cry a bit,” some whisper to her, “it will ease the tension.” They all stand and wait for a drop of her tears, as if beggars waiting for a drop of gold. “If she is not giving us his child, the least she can do is give us her tears.” Nana bites down on her teeth and swears to never cry. Does that make her a Capitalist of sorrow?
Angela of Foligno prayed to God for the death of her family so that she could pursue her religious vocation. Her mother, husband, and children all die in subsequent years.
Time passes and her encounters with God take a corporeal form. She foams from the mouth, she screams in convulsions until her joints dislocate. Her visions become so material that her fame spreads to the whole valley of Spoleto, grabbing the attention of a certain Brother Arnoldo, who decides to become her scribe.
Angela communicates with God directly, not requiring the mediation of a church. Each encounter is like a little slice of death, which the scribe measures for accuracy. After consulting with knowledgeable men the scribe decides that Angela dies authentically. Consequently, he creates her memorial, which is merely an archive of Angela’s symbolic deaths. Thus she enters the history of men.
Dying, Angela lives a long life. Her fame grows with each of her deaths. Materially she dies of old age.
Four hundred years after her death Pope Francis declares Angela a saint.
Some find this to be a reason to rejoice for the victory of womankind. A glass half empty is finally recognized as half full! How lovely!
But who gives a fuck! If YOU are the glass in question, you are still the glass in question.