In the wake of a troubled ex-lover’s suicide, novelist Masha Hamilton tries to make sense of it in a correspondence to his ghost.
Masha Hamilton | Longreads | August 2016 | 24 minutes (5,851 words)
It was morning, after another rough night. You’d barely slept on the floor in Bill’s cave of an apartment, where you’d spent the last three nights watching the hour of the wolf stretch to become every hour that was dark or semi-dark. Now, though the apartment remained as stale and murky as it had been at 1 a.m., then 2 a.m., then 3, you knew it was light outside. A long way from the kind of light you loved, when clouds turn pink from the rising sun, water-coloring men who make coffee in tin kettles with long handles over an open fire. That was Africa—Rwanda or the Congo or maybe Madagascar. This was Manhattan. Fucking Manhattan.
You ate plenty, like a man with plans: two lemon drop cookies, a lemon yogurt and half a pint of strawberry ice cream. That’s what Bill had in his kitchen. You watered the mix with coffee. Then you spilled out the bullets to reduce your payload to two. One was all you truly needed, but somehow you thought it right to have a spare. On any op, the best-laid plans turn to mush once it starts, you’d often said. Contingencies were critical.
You set off, walking toward the East River where dumped bodies, grim blossoms, push their way up each spring once the water thaws. It took only five or six minutes to reach Sutton Place Park, even moving slowly as you do now—did then—with the pain in your hips and feet. You passed East Side professionals on their way to work and the ornate, obscenely expensive brownstones built by Effingham Sutton, who raked it in during the 1849 California Gold Rush. I can imagine you making fun of his first name.
The river drew you first, the park only secondarily. You’d been talking for days about going to the river, though it seemed metaphorical and was never clear what you meant. You chose a bench with a view, not because it mattered, but because, legs cemented in place, they all have views.
Did you take it in? No; you moved too quickly for that, your mind too focused on its end goal, and besides you were way over the city, way beyond wanting to appreciate light cast by an urban sun, the oily shine on the river, the trees insisting even here on renewal. Screw the miracles of life. Yes, you were one; you had been one. That was then. This was now.Continue reading “Letter to an Ex, on the Occasion of His Suicide”