The Lumberjack’s Wife

Because I do not know how it all ended, I might as well tell the story.

It is about a girl who wanted a lumberjack husband to spend the winter with.

She had always been exceptionally tall. I think that is why she always wanted a lumberjack. In the late afternoons, just as she wakes up after having tossed and turned through the night, she used to slide the sheets off her legs and stare down at them. The ebony trunk-like legs would curve up into the knee and her splayed out toes would be visible above her round brown kneecaps. She would move her legs slightly to reassure herself that the shins and calf, which she can’t see without craning her neck, are still attached to her knee. The rustle of the sheets and the sleep infused bed brushing against her skin would remind her of the missing portions of her legs she can’t see.

A year of tossing and turning at nights, falling asleep at the break of dawn and sleeping into the afternoons had made her mournfully pretty. She had always been a beautiful girl. The fitful day sleeping added a dull sheen that only sleeplessness can lend to a healthy skin. Listlessness added beautiful dark shades under her doleful eyes. No one could argue against her indifferent descent into transparency because it brought out shades of beauty that are not human.

Some days she would lie face down on her bed naked, her face buried in the bed, her warm breath suffocating her as she breathed into the pressed surface, her legs spread slightly wide, one hand between her legs, the other clutching her hair, her hips moving, for a long time. Sometimes, when she tired of this, she would roll onto her back and let her head hang down from the edge of the bed. She would run her fingers from her hips to her legs wondering how such long slender legs were attached to her torso.

Maybe during all this time, she always wanted a lumberjack. Maybe she was enamored of those rugged men because of their simple and uncomplicated lives. Strong men leading isolated lives in cold countries surround by tall trees. Long trees. When she sometimes wanders out, always in the late afternoon sun, though her skin and hair burn with the heat and sweat of her world, her insides are cold from imagining wintry climates. Do lumberjack shacks have large kitchens? Would the kitchens smell of pinewood? Would freshly baked lemon squares, which she always wanted to bake, fill the house with its scent, mixing with the other usual smells of pine oil, sawdust, and smoke? Would the lumberjack come home hungry and can she ask him for a bear to cuddle with in the winter? Would her hair be powdered with fine sugar and flour from the baking?

I also think she loved cherries. She used to drop ice cubes in a small bowl of cherries and watching the freezing block slowly melt – with her chin on her hands and her hands on the table – water condensing down the cherries, wetting them and running in tiny rivulets into the cracks between the cherries. Sometimes she toyed with the cherries, feeling the cold water pool into a puddle at the bottom of the bowl.

I always used to think it was her eyes that ate the cherries.

Slowly she forgot that she existed.

Sometimes she founds bits and pieces of her parts missing.

Over time she would disappear completely for days at a stretch and reappear only when she remembered herself, her clothes falling off her body as she transitioned from something into nothing, and finding herself completely naked when she eventually materialized back. Because nobody asked her about it, she was not too worried about it either. Her pining morphed into a dull ache in her heart that was unquenchable, almost as if she was afraid she didn’t really want anything and she wanted to forever be lost. She found her thoughts more and more muddled during her waking hours. Her shelf of books started exuding a smell that welcomed her back from her shadowy dimensions.

Her voice, already low and soft, dropped lower and softer.

Her hair grew longer, curlier and fell in dark tresses. I occasionally see her wandering about and have thought she looked happy in her sadness.

Many times I too have wondered how she would look in a wooden cabin waiting for her lumberjack. Because somewhere in those heavy eyes and sloping shoulders and long legs there was a cabin girl quality to her existence.

2 thoughts on “The Lumberjack’s Wife

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  1. I am reminded of a few stories in Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women. There’s a story in which a woman is always followed by wetness. Another story where the woman is a knife–I think that’s the one I’m thinking of as I read this, the cabin-in-the-woods quality of this, remote and speculative (maybe?).
    Hope you’re not irritated by the comparison. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh!! I didn’t realize that.. irritated by the comparison? what!! I need to read those pieces now that you say this reminded you of those 🙂

      Like

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