She is sifting through the detritus, trying to find what is relevant. Her mind cannot rest. As the dentist tells her to sink back into the chair and relax she tries, but cannot focus her thoughts. The memories of it consume her. She tries to make sense of it all, to compartmentalise the details; the wintry branch scratching at one side of the window, the white flowers in the vase rising to meet it on the other. Details separated by glass, examined individually. The cat lolloping, stretching out in the winter sun. Which side of the branch? Where did the cat fit into the picture? Had it watched the whole thing through the window? She remembers seeing its eyes, staring. And behind it, the car. The passing car, red, a sedan, a family car, a bumper sticker. Ordinary people living their lives in the daytime.
She rinses with mouthwash and spits into the small white basin as the dentist instructs her. She recalls the toothpaste smeared down the tube and crusted up at the end, how his hair smelt minty because of the conditioner he used. She hears the small clinking of the glass on the tap, remembers reading the small print on the backs of their shampoo bottles. The mess in the bathroom. The privacy she felt in being near his skin. She sees the face he made when he put his contacts in, sees her underwear reflecting in the bathroom mirror, riding up just a little higher than it should. She feels a vacuum.
Harsh yellow light shines into her eyes as the dentist leans over to examine the inside of her mouth. The flowers, the cat, the window. She pulls out the details from the air, like pulling loose threads from her pajamas. The toothpaste, the glass, the mirror. These were the raw materials of their love, enough for a thousand novels, epics hidden in the minutiae of their lives.
The dentist moves the drill into her mouth and she remembers his fingers pressing into the small of her back, the surprise of his cold hands on her skin, remembers the glass being knocked, the arm involuntarily sweeping out over the bedside table, remembers the thud on the carpet and the clink on the side of the bed like a bell. She feels his body on hers. The memory of his weight pressing down on her makes her suddenly feel the space floating above, stark and negative, like she is making love to a ghost, there in the dentist’s chair.
The memories fall apart, unravel like tied-up hair let loose. They scatter and multiply, bouncing light into a hundred other bathroom mirrors, reflecting, refracting, expanding. It was not yet night, it was evening, it was morning. The sun was moving. It was autumn, or spring. The room was a certain colour and the sheets were a certain colour and his belt was a certain colour. All this to wade through. Could it not all stick? Or else all simply disappear?
She does not see him anymore. His days and hers are filled with separate necessary details, unshared, as she pulls apart the love that they made and tries to find the small relevant details that made it all worthwhile.
The dentist scrapes metal in the gap between her teeth. He presses his fingers against the roof of her mouth. Her tongue quivers as it tries to avoid touching the fingers. All her attention is held for a moment. Her guard is down. A single detail flies like a black bird and smashes against the window – it is the shape of his eyes, his pupils bending back beyond themselves, like holes in arctic ice, like black stars burning, and it is suddenly all she can see, his eyes burning there still, shot through with pain like a phantom that cries as a black bird smashes into his eyes, his shapely eyes burning like ice that smashes like a bird a ghost a phantom stars slipping eyes into ice into eyes as she jerks breathless sputtering ice as birds smash into eyes face black eyes dead face birds black eyes ice face eyes face face face...