Shine Shine Shine

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Book: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lydia Netzer
had rotated, somewhere far away, without his feet on it, without his body, prone, asleep on it, stretching over the bottom of any bed he’d ever lain in, his feet always spilling out, his head always butting against the wall.
    For a man so long, restraint was essential. He was always bumping into things. Maxon’s fuse was long, too, his temper even longer than his legs. There had been times when his limit had been breached, and his ability to tolerate the little clinks and rattles when his limbs bumped into knickknacks was the first thing to go. In the house where he grew up, for example, there were so many things. So many piles, shelves stacked high with papers, jars, shoeboxes, empty cans, lumps of fishing tackle, scraps of leather, and the filth and detritus of a house full of boys. So in their house Sunny and Maxon didn’t keep decorations on the surfaces. They were smooth and clean, a candle here and a bouquet of eucalyptus there, brutally arranged by Maxon for minimal clutter, just enough to keep them looking like they lived in a proper home. When they were first married, Sunny didn’t care. She had no feelings about what things should be on counters or tables. It didn’t matter to her.
    When they moved to Virginia she started making changes in the arrangements, asked that he rotate them by seasons. She had bought an antique clock, put it not equidistant between two candles. There were other purchases, and contractors coming in to work. He knew that this was the time she started caring about the house. This was the time she became different, when they moved to Virginia so he could have the lab at Langley. When they, together, made the boy.
    He had written in his notebook during the night. He looked down and saw that he had written the words “Sunny’s great disappointments:” and then underneath he had made three strong bullets. Beside the first was “Me” and then “My behavior.” Then finally, “My genetic material.” He saw the words “Sunny said:” and then three more bullets underneath. He wrote “Why can’t you just be a normal fucking human being?” and “It is all your fault that Bubber is how he is” and “I hate my mother for being right, but she was right. She was right!”
    Maxon knew that elsewhere in his notebook was a page that said this:

     
    “Thank you for letting me know,” he said to Sunny’s words. And without any further hesitation, he turned the page, smoothed out the fresh sheet, and began the day of work. He considered the mother, her smooth golden head, her dour pronouncements, her long illness, but then he tried to put the image right out of his head.
    *   *   *
     
    S HE DROVE TO THE YMCA and put Bubber into his swim trunks, because this is what they did after preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Bubber’s schedule was sacred, like a litany, helping him fit into the world. He danced from foot to foot in the changing room, his hand on the door, waiting for her to come along. The pool had an L shape, shallow in the bottom part and deep on the long part for laps. Bubber’s goggles were bright green and his trunks had bugs all over them, red and yellow. When she came along, finally, he flopped into the pool without looking back at her, without noticing, immediately engaged in his own world. Sunny could smell the chlorine, see the rust around the drains, and there was a crippled man in the hot tub, his face pinched and persevering. She had looked into the wide mirrors of the YMCA changing room. Under the fluorescent light her head looked pointier, more gray.
    She stood in her skirted maternity bathing suit on the wheelchair ramp that wound down into the pool. Her giant belly pressed against the railing. This is where she always stood. The YMCA rule said a parent had to stay within arm’s length from a child this small. So, there she was. Bubber was a freakishly good swimmer, and he always had been. He had never been afraid, even for a moment, of drowning. In fact,

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