Fiction Finalist Laurie Myers-Bishop

Aug 30, 2016 by

Fiction Finalist Laurie Myers-Bishop

The (Violation of) the Pigeonhole Principle

You stand in the doorway to watch him leave. He bends to pick up his guitar. He puts it in the trunk of your shared hatchback, which is currently crammed full of amps. He is going to work at the studio. You raise your hand, your connection like puppet strings, one movement triggers another. His eyes meet yours and the subsequent tug pulls you to him, though you remain in the doorway and he is now getting into the car. It is Monday morning. You are still in love after two years of marriage. It is the longest romantic relationship you have ever had.

The man comes over at noon. He is on break from the construction site down the street. His dark skin is covered in a fine layer of dust from the cleared lots that look like organized desertification. Particulate sticks to his face and arms. The dust is everywhere; it gets in through the screened windows of your townhouse to settle in tiny dunes on the laminate floor. When the man takes off his boots, dust falls from his jeans, his t-shirt, his beard.

The man is different than your husband. He is a grizzly man, a man that pulls your hair, the kind that has you from behind and makes no apology for the semen dripping down your leg or the possibility of disease. He takes what he wants, he drinks the beer you offer afterward; he eats the ham sandwich you made in two bites. He leaves and you have a shower. You check for footprints and sweep away any evidence.

There are compartments, your husband says. You are eating a late night pizza, picking off the thin onion strands that accidentally got on your side. In my mind, ideas exist as separate elements I can access any time. I can mix them up if I want to, but mostly I choose to leave them alone. You wonder what compartment you occupy—are you mixed up or do you exist alone? Did you hear about that physics conundrum of three pigeons and two pigeonholes? Your husband’s face lights up, getting ready to teach you something.

Your mind is a seeping puddle, like tears. This is somehow related to your husband and the man, but you try to concentrate. Simple math states if you put three pigeons in two holes, two pigeons must share a hole—obvious. But the new theory says it’s possible for none of the pigeons to share a hole. Your husband goes on to say this conundrum can only be got at by using a kind of out-of-focus math, a math of possibilities, similar to peripheral vision. If you look directly at it, it cannot be.

You decide the man is the third pigeon who is of no consequence to you or your husband. You all exist in separate holes. This separate existence makes your married love possible—you can do what you want on the periphery, but once in focus, it is obvious that you and your husband share a hole, and the man is nowhere to be seen. And so you rationalize your behaviour in the puddle of your mind. You try to build compartments to emulate your husbands’ tidy thoughts, but your boxes are made of cardboard, so you let the idea of compartments go. It is easier to drown.

The man does not come on Wednesday. You wait and nothing happens. You go back to your stay-at-home job as an order taker for a pizza company and you take orders; meat lovers, two for one, double cheese. You masturbate in the shower and cry because you wanted to be slapped on the ass, you wanted to be used and forgotten. You wanted to feel dead and alive at the same time. You miss the man all afternoon. The holes of your body have not been filled. No pigeons and too many holes.

When your husband unlocks the door that evening, relief floods through you like the shivery yolk-fingers of the neighbourhood boy you played with as a child. The game started with a song—Crack an egg on your head—it was meant to give you chills. Instead it made your eyes roll back in ecstasy, an imagined embryo leaking down your spine, while the boy whispered concentrate, concentrate into your ear. It felt like you imagined love would feel.

You dress up in lingerie for your husband, you place mirrors in strategic areas, you bend over slowly, slowly, you spread your legs slowly; slowly, you kiss him slowly. It is a production, it is the opposite of your encounters with the man—it is imbued with tenderness and entanglement. Afterward, you say you love him more than anyone, and behind your eyes in your weeping mind, you swear you will never touch the man again. This love is the correct love, as logic dictates. You are two pigeons in one hole. This is the right perception for love.

The man comes Thursday at noon and his lip is swollen. He has a black eye. He has been in contact with another body of matter; he is in a jumpy mood. He wants a beer first, he wants to talk. What’s your name? he says. I’m—. You put your finger on his injured mouth and he winces. There are no words between you. You answer his question by kneeling in front of him and unzipping his jeans. He is pungent from outdoor work. He tastes of salt and sea; coated with the grit of desolate land. You capture the keys to a potential universe in your mouth and spit them out in the kitchen sink. You take his fingers and put them in you, and you come in a way that means it is over. These holes should not be filled again by this particular pigeon.

That evening it looks like you share a hole with your husband. But as you and your husband lie connected in your bed, you find yourself in the man’s hole. You are two places at once. It is easy to be two places at once, natural even, for your watery mind. You imagine a version of this internal possibility must be mirrored somewhere in the universe, the way leafless trees look like the hidden bronchi of lungs.

On Friday at noon, the man comes again. You find yourself with your face pushed against the kitchen wall while he takes you from behind, dust particles falling from his hair onto the small of your back. You hear the door unlock. The man does not stop, so you do not stop. He is too close, you are too close. You hear your husband call out hey baby, I’m home.

At the same time as your husband calls out, the man comes. And you come with what you hope is a shuddering guilt. The man’s penis deflates inside you as you listen to the thud of instruments or amps into the front hall. His studio time is complete. You pull down your dress and point at the sliding glass door. The man fumbles with his jeans.

As your husband walks toward you and your lover runs out the back door, you are struck by an electric feeling, random and fated at once. Three pigeons cannot exist in the same hole. And you are grateful to know this. You are done seeping around the edges, not looking directly at what is. The puddle of your mind must be contained in stiff plastic; you must snap a hard lid over the top to prevent spills. Your husband enters the kitchen, notes the half open glass door and says who the fuck is that?

You both watch as the third pigeon jumps the fence.


LaurieMyersBishop (1)

Laurie Myers-Bishop is a writer whose work has appeared in literary magazines such as Matrix Magazine, Room, Riddle Fence, The South Circular among others, and is currently working on a collection of short stories as well as a novel.


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