An excerpt from Suchi Asano's first novel, In Broken WigWag
Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 100 in 1998.
Now I know nobody is going to believe me that I didn't try to finish myself off. I really didn't. I swear.
Unless I had made some kind of unconscious decision before that without me- the conscious me- realizing. Who knows. That I have to leave to Satomi, that's her territory. That night when I came home I was at my absolute bottom. I was supposed to feel better after I slept-I mean made it- with the Chilean. He said his was Peter- Pedro, but I didn't believe him. For he took me to some apartment to screw me, I saw him take out one set of keys first and quickly put them away and take out another set. That place must have belonged to his friend or something, otherwise why did he have two separate sets? Anyway we went inside to this truly nondescript apartment furnished with obvious D.I.Y. furniture. Like a college dorm. I hated them. We sat on this unvarnished couch with a miserable purple and green patterned cushions. He came on to me then and there which I wasn't so thrilled about, so we moved to yet unvarnished bed. He wasn't so bad, as far as a one night stand goes, you know. I could have been carried away, I was drunk enough, and if this guy could have given me some kind of pleasure which I hadn't experienced in a while, I should have gone with it. But I couldn't. All this time I was with him I was so aware that I was only doing it to compete with Stephen. I wasn't there to get fucked for a fucking purpose, I wasn't there because I was lonely for some flesh, I wanted to fuck him only to tell Stephen later-How would he react? Would he get hurt? Serves him right! He should know how it feels-then on the other hand he might not care at all. Not even a twitch in the eye-
When I started thinking that I felt too lousy. Deplorable, disgusted and yet pitiful.
I came home but shiftiness stayed the same. And all of a sudden I couldn't take it anymore. What am I doing? Why am I here? If I put an end to myself today, is the world gonna mourn me? Miss me? No! The truth is nobody cares. I exist in my world, but even when I'm gone from the world, it'll still exist without me, without hindrance to anybody, anything. The thought was already killing me...
At that point I was ready to go. Ready to get it over with. It didn't seem too hard at all. I mean I can never throw myself from a building nor pop a gun into my head, I'm not that courageous, but swallowing pills seemed nothing to me. Nothing unusual. Just an extension of daily life, just this time there'll be no waking up. The one way ticket to eternity. Good-bye, adieu, arrivederci! Only thing I was reluctant to leave was my cat. But he'll be taken care of- Stephen liked him, too. He can carry on his life just the same. Then somehow I started to picture Stephen living happily with his girlfriend and my cat! My cat living with them! That I couldn't take it. Mac was mine. Not ours, but mine. I had to leave it as is. Nobody's gonna change, nobody's gonna claim him.... so....
I started to fill the bathtub with the water-I couldn't find any other way. I sat on the toilet, waited till the tub was full enough to cover the height of the cat, then I grabbed Mac and stood next to the tub. He didn't resist for he was always fascinated by the water. Everytime I filled the tub, he'd be right there gaping at it, with his front paws on the edge of the tub, standing tiptoe.... I watched the waterline rise. I was mesmerized by it. The faucet, the water, the force. The water looked gushing out from the drain, rather than coming out of the faucet. I held him tight, as hard as I could. Despite all that much fur, he was so tiny under my grip. His fat was soft like a rabbit's. I started wondering why he weren't my child. He was my baby, but he wasn't growing up... He'd never be able to take care of himself. If he could I wouldn't need to do this... I desperately wished he could... Then he scratched me and got away. Perhaps the animal instinct- he got up the top of the refrigerator where I couldn't reach. I tried to get hold of him, but he drew back. He looked at me in complete mistrust. My heart shrieked.
There was nothing I could do. I couldn't do it. I sat on the floor for a while until I came up with other solution....
I took a cab to Washington Square. It was just before the daybreak and maybe because it was summer there were plenty of people around. I was kind of relieved. You know it's funny that a person who is willing to take in her life still worries about being mugged. I guess we're scared of the nature of unexpected events, especially when it comes to violence....
I got to eastern side of the square where there were big trees, and opened the cat's box. He didn't want to come out of it first, I had to coax him. Once he was out, I could see he was shocked. He looked around him with jerky moves of his head, absolutely stunned. Can you imagine he never had been out of the apartment, and all of a sudden, this! He stayed there on the same spot and looked at me. I thought it was a look of plead at first, like he was asking me not let him go. But after all he's a cat, no matter how sedated life he had, he was still an animal. He saw something moved in the grass and there he went. By and by further and further from me. I was kind of happy that I did something good for him before I went, and for me too, finally seeing him act like the way he should act-after all cats are related to bigger cats in the wild, aren't they? I almost broke down with tears. Then all of a sudden fear sneaked in to me-What if he was picked up by some wacko? Who would just enjoy tormenting animals? --- I have seen a little mutt covered with hundreds of bums. The owner told me some mental had branded the dog with cigarette butts.
I didn't want Mac to fall into hands of someone like that. I didn't want him to suffer, never, never- Only a few minutes ago this same person-I was gonna finish him off with her own hands!
I panicked and started to look for him all over. God, I must've been crazy to let Mac go like that! I called out for him, as I got threatened by the people who were still sleeping there. By this time I came back to my senses I guess, realized I'd been completely insane, out of my mind. I wanted the cat back. I called and called all around the park, and you know that park is not small. I got exhausted. The alcohol was still holding court in my stomach. I didn't know for how long I'd been looking for him till this punk kid came up to me and told me if I was looking for a cat, he'd seen it near the statue. So I dashed, searched around there all over. Then finally I heard a feeble meow . . . I whistled to get him respond. "Mac, Mac."
Then I finally saw him up on a small tree! I had no idea he could climb up a tree! But there he was perched on a branch, lost and scared, perhaps he'd gone up there to avoid dogs.... He didn't want to come down so I jumped up a few times with my heels to shake him off the tree.
I got him home. On the way I was feeling how silly the whole thing was. It was worse than a comedy show on television. I didn't want to remember the whole thing I just wanted forget, go to sleep. Next morning I'd be crisp, I thought. But when I opened the door to my place the water was everywhere. It was like the roof had blown away in the middle of a hurricane. Apparently I'd forgotten to turn off the bathtub. I almost lost my mind. I couldn't think anything else to do, so I took my pills to just knock myself out. I couldn't deal with it then....
The next thing I knew was I was being pumped up my stomach.
I was told the super had found me, he had the complaint from the tenant down below. It must have leaked pretty bad.... It was a lake in our place.........."
* * *
Neither of us spoke for a longest while. Kira drew a deep breath and closed her eyes. I watched the sharp needle of the rain illuminated by the light from the room. We sat there like some old sisters who had spend their whole life together, appreciated each other's company but nothing whatsoever to say to each other.
Another restless night was edging in.
"I'm going to Minnesota." Kira said.
"Believe it or not, to a detox. It's really exaggerated, but it's the best thing for me and for Stephen.....I can have time of my own there.....
"For how long?"
"A month or so."
A month! It seemed eternal.
"What are you going to do there? You know you'll be bored." I said out of spite.
Kira made a faint smile while she kept her eyes closed.
When I came out of the hallway, I saw Stephen sitting in a waiting area. He was making fists and then opening them. Then fists, then open, perhaps he wasn't aware of what he was doing. He was staring at an old poster of MOMA exhibit of Impressionists. When he took notice of me standing next to him, he stopped his gripping exercise.
We hugged each other in silence. Tenderly and yearningly, as if it was a reunion of lost war comrades.