Yesterday would have been my mother's birthday--or it was the second birthday after her death. Two different conceptions of time are caught in those sentences, and I'm not sure which one is more accurate to how I experience her now. Maybe I could say it's both at once. I think that that's telling the truth.
But the bewildering thing. A movie comes in from Netflix yesterday, a movie I had no hand in picking. I could say that Mark picked it, which is true on the literal level, but simpler than the story I'm about to tell. Mark says, Les Diaboliques came. And the title alone loosens something submerged from decades back. My parents' beloved movie, a movie they must have seen when they were first together, a movie they talked about, and even mimicked scenes from, well into my childhood years. The bathtub scene: the body rising from water. Then--never referred to again. Les Diaboliques.
Maybe your mother's saying hello, Mark said. Neither playful nor portentous. Just a shrug in his tone.
So how could I watch the movie without looking for a special sign in it? Or, at the very least, some sense of what might have thrilled my young parents back in 1955, some sense of what they might have been? A brute of a man, a boy forced to stand in the corner, two lovers: the brute's wife and his mistress, a confession, a hunger for punishment. A ghost. Sass, and more than a streak of dark humor. Simone Signoret, in black glasses, cigarette in mouth, looking more dominatrix than schoolteacher...
Maybe all that, and things I can't even see. Or simply the sight of the body, and the wonder of the gone body. Where did it go? Where did it go?