Pearl’s eyeballs were dry and felt very grainy when she looked up, down, or sideways. The grainy feeling made her wonder if there had been a dust storm as it was so bad. Pearl made an appointment to see the eye doctor and he looked around in her eye with his many gadgets and at the end of the examination, he told her that she had dry eyes. This he said, was a result of spending too much time on the computer and when that wasn’t enough she made it even drier by reading too many books. Pearl did not like to hear any of the diagnosis and asked the doctor what to do. He wrote a list of very expensive over-the-counter eye-drops that she could purchase. Pearl asked him which one was his favorite and without hesitating he jabbed the first one on the list with his pen. This made Pearl wonder if he had shares in that one especially that it was the most expensive one and because he dressed in the manner of Hercule Poirot. Quite dapper.
In the CVS Pharmacy, Pearl bought the medium priced eye drop because the medication in all of them was the same and the containers were not jeweled. She opted for the middle priced one just in case there was a missing element in the least expensive. Consumerism is a survival game and Pearl was acutely aware of the schemes and deceptions of those that manufactured pharmaceuticals. Food and clothing was another matter but for now she was concerned with what was before her. Pearl was like that. She was of singular focus when she was engaged with any matter.
The very first thing that Pearl did when she arrived home was to wrestle the plastic from the little bottle of manufactured tears, put a drop in each of her eyes, blotted them with Kleenex tissues, sighed, and sat down to wait for the miracle moment when the grains in her eyes would melt. The miracle was slow in coming. Pearl waited three very long hours in her arm-chair, while she caressed the new book on her lap. The computer could wait until the next day she had reasoned, but the copy of “Purity” by “Franzen” that she had purchased in the airport in Orlando cried out to be read. Was it going to be any good as the pundits were cackling? Only she and time would tell. She waited. The grains felt softened at the approach of the third hour. Pearl opened the book and began to enjoy her eyes. She panned the pages and lapped the words into life.
Inside the book she traveled between Germany and America, journeyed into the life of spies and who Pearl considered to be people who took drugs and experienced psychedelic lights. She read for two hours stepping over bags, see folks eat stale food, have random sexual encounters while they discussed medical research programs that they were involved in. Pearl was taking a longer time than usual to decide how far to let the water rise before she would swim to shore and place the book on the ‘Meh Shelf’. ‘Purity’ after two hours, did not growl at her and demand that she “sit her arse down even if the grains returned to her eyes.” Pearl got worried, she paid twenty-nine dollars for the book, surely it should offer up something worth more than grains of sand!
Inside Purity, which had become a symbolic town for Pearl, there lived a student who had a really weird relationship with her mother and Pearl wandered about with her a bit, but just could not understand the socialization or culture of this girl. These were white people like she’d never encountered. When the student bedded down on the floor, Pearl found it difficult to bed down with her and would look around for a chair. There was none, so she stood in a corner and listened to the conversations or to the sex. Their values fell short and there were no expectations that Pearl could identify with. What would be the fate of “Purity”?
As her eyes drooped, Pearl caught a glimpse of Pablo Neruda engaged in animated conversation with another who seemed to be Antonio Banderas. What the heck!! She brightened up and decided to float over to where they were on a mound that looked so much like Stonehenge, to listen to the conversation. What weird place was this? Pearl seemed not to care. I did and I slammed the book shut. Everything went stark white and then the colors filled themselves in. What on earth to do about this book, I posed the question to myself. Should I go on with it or find a place on the “Meh Shelf.” Pearl and I separated for a time.
The idea of Antonio Banderas conjured up the musical “Evita” and the songs and musical notes rolled out before me like little balloons filled with different colored gel that bounced at different tempos. They bounced over my tired eyes, fell on my lips and I inhaled all of them to fill my brain with so much sweetness that could stop my breath, but it didn’t. I continued to breathe and mentally pet the little gel balls. Madonna’s voice razed my mind when she sang, “have I said too much?” How could I answer her! I understood her pain and grieved that I could not write as beautifully as she sang or was as all-encompassing as the little gel balls. Everything they touched came alive rejoicing. They made the idea of Evita dying something to revel in that would leave an indelible mark on the soul. Argentina had Evita. What did I have?
If I could I would write words that started like little black seeds in soft moist places. I would make my words pulse and swell, ebb and flow. I would make them dance on the readers’ minds to scrub out all other words and then take their places. My words would bud and grow into tender undulating shoots that would thrill when the trumpets exhaled and tingle when the cymbals grew loud. I would write words that did not plot only dimmed the lights on lovers, squeezed tears from mothers’ eyes and make them bite down on their bottom lips when their newborns came down too hard on the tender nipples. Words like music.
I would write words like music mixed with water that ran over the edge of the bathtub and filled the bathroom without wetting the floors or walls, words that drowned you with eyes wide open as you floated way up to the ceiling in ecstasy. My words would entrance the reader into convulsions each time my word Cello curved a note and made it weep into the mind with a gentle force inducing the soul to die. But it doesn’t. Instead it lives with coruscating pain, so glittering you become blind and stumble over gel like matter in search of the end of the Cello. The end is long in coming. The reader dies from divine sexual musical ecstasy but is revived when piano words administered like moon glow slowly fills up the pages of what I write. A feast. I want to give you a feast of beautiful unforgettable words. I want you to weep profusely each time you read. You deserve pangs of emotions like cream slathered on your body and the tormentor is slow to teach you. Smoky Robinson. I love your face. Simple words.
How I wish I could write words like music. A symphony, a cacophony, a deluge, a volcano. Writhing and slithering into small places to emerge as wispy breaths, breasts, lips, fingers, sighs and moans. I want to write words that run down my thighs warm and salty to pool in my shoes and slosh around like a musical note. Swish, squish, taking me back to childlike places. Words when everything was in symbols and petals and sounds and magnificently Oaked, simply for variety. Words big enough to fill the ocean and push the water out and leave a space to build word cities verdant with soft leaves and honeybees dusty with pollen.
I opened “Purity” again. Pearl stared back. She sighed. Our holograms glowed. We pulsed. We did not speak. She straightened herself in the chair. I mirrored her. She went back to the student having sex without a condom with the fat stranger who ate stale food. Pearl watched me on the mind screen that we shared. I knew she had enough. “Purity”, by ‘Franzen” was doomed for the Meh Shelf. For me, the strains of Nicola Benedetti cajoling a meditation from Thais was enough to pull me down the stairs on wings. I went along.
Pearl came awake unaware of the time. She went to her study and placed the book on the particular shelf. Twenty nine dollars lost in translation. She went back to the arm-chair and dropped two more drops of the mid-priced fake tears into her eyes. She left me still struggling to write words like music.