The Double Closet

Connie’s husband never had the hernia checked, only tucked it into his waistband for decades before it finally ruptured and went septic. He was gone in days. Connie could live a different life.

She rented one room high in a large house on the edge of town.

She ate from cans and stared at the remaining liquid that would spill into the garbage.

Within six months she was let go from her job. It was spring and she was bothered by the sun emerging from months of flat, swaddling gray. People came out of doors. They wore shorts and talked in the streets. Her neighborhood was not nearly so bad. Most of the homes were torn down.

She hauled out plastic tubs filled with spring clothes – light cardigans, knee-length smocks, fabric shoe-boots – from the closet where they’d been directly unpacked. She held each garment up before the sun streaming through the window, and stuffed each into an opaque plastic garbage bag. After four tubs she had five garbage bags.

The last tub was tucked in the brown shadows pinched down beneath the gable roof. She crawled in on her forearms. The heavy hung clothes parted over her back. A milky glow seeped from between the folded clothes. Behind the tub was a small window, level with the floor, in a vertical space no higher than her knee. She strained to see out through what seemed to be translucent plastic.

Connie donned her remaining article of clothing, a coarse gray chino smock, and ventured out with two bags of clothes she could carry at once. She looked up to her room. Sun struck the lamp inside her window. To the right, the small window in the closet peeked out from an eyebrow dormer barely reflecting the clear sky. It was not covered in plastic. Furthermore, the clothes hanging in the closet were visible.

In her room again, she pulled the hem of her smock over her knees and slipped under the hanging clothes to the small space. With her legs bent she fit snugly. She propped her face on her hand directly in front of the window, and stared. What at first appeared to be a luminous white surface gained depth and volume. Subtle changes of shading and tone moved like the edges of woodsmoke in fog. Nothing of the blue spring sky lay beyond the glass. The absence folded over her, softening her smock against her skin. She only breathed.

She rose to sleep on her bed but could not. It was night. She returned to the little window and pulled in the remaining garbage bags filled with clothes to construct a soft wall behind her. The luminance was enhanced in the dark and filled the little chamber. She bathed in the swirling texture. The murky animation drew through the short hairs on her skin, outlining her figure, reproducing it in the soft delineation of the clouds so that another woman appeared to float beyond the window. It wasn’t exactly a reproduction of her. The hips had a different silhouette. The hair seemed more full. The form filtered about with ebullient gestures. Connie stayed crammed in the closet as she sank down to what would have been the ground and stride away.

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