Janice D. Soderling – I Am So Lucky

Imagine what it would be like to be swallowed by a python. Did you know a python can unhinge its jaws in four directions to swallow a full-grown impala? I saw one do this in a documentary last week and I can’t get it out of my mind. I don’t like documentaries, but Leo does, Leo, my husband of two months and five days. Leo laughed while I cried. That’s life, he said. Tough shit.

Leo is not a sissy. Leo is a no-frills man, give him meat and potatoes and a beer and he’s happy. When a man is hungry, a man expects to eat, Leo says. If supper is not on the table at five-thirty sharp, he will go elsewhere. He did this once to teach me a lesson. Also in bed. He knows what he wants. I can’t say he knows what I want though. Forget it, he says, he’s not a goddamned fancy-talking gigolo, but I thought it would be different in a marriage bed than in the back seat of his Ford parked beside Lake Pontchartrain. It ain’t.

My best friend Carol says I am lucky. I think she used to be sweet on Leo herself  and if you ask me, it’s not required of her to drop by every day to see how I’m getting on. You are looking pale today, she says. She never comes mornings, she happens to be passing by just before the factory closes. Stay for supper, Leo says, and I say, sure stay for supper, there’s plenty.

I am so lucky he married me. Ma was relieved. The shame, she said, crying and carrying on like I was dead. And it was blasphemy to get married in a short white dress, she said, but it don’t show yet and we can tell everybody that the baby was born premature and hadn’t I better start peeling the potatoes and shouldn’t I cut my hair now that I am a married woman. I just look out the window at the green figs and don’t answer. After a while she says, I got to go now and you are an ungrateful child.

In four directions! How horrible to be squeezed to death and slowly forced down the cold throat of a python and dissolved until you are nothing. I try not to think about it. I try to think about pleasant things. Like about my husband, Leo, and I know Jesus will forgive me because I am truly sorry, and how lucky I am.