A Novel Excerptby Douglas Wood
Clay steps inside his closet in search of a shirt that isn’t repulsive and discovers he’s left his body: a sensation neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but bewildering, definitely. Those hands, the fingers thin as paintbrushes, recognizably his, continue to sling hangers along the rail, but he observes the action from a close vantage, like the difference between the left and right eyes—that far away—an adjacent but distinct point of view. Dizzying, to watch yourself operate like normal, to function like someone in control when there’s no one in control and you can’t trust anything.
The blue linen? The black one with the trim? The checked one he got in Brooklyn, what about that? No. All are dispatched, their empty arms flap, the patterns blur. He sends them flying as if combining them with a tan jacket would prove fatal. God, I wish I were dead, he thinks, comforted. He doesn’t want to kill himself, not right then, not in a serious way. But this bleak thought gives him a pinch, enough for Clay to collect himself.
It’s not so crazy. When you love someone you sometimes wear nice things for them, right? He can’t disappoint Mark. Mark, who deserves every good thing. Except for taking their daughter to school, Clay has left the house only twice this week. Mark and Aedon deserve better. Someone who has his shit together. At a minimum, they deserve someone who can pick out a freaking shirt without turning it into Sophie’s Choice. The paisley Robert Graham? The Paul Smith with tiny dots? The ecru Calvin Klein? Ich kann nicht wählen. His brutal, automatic hands decide: Too fussy. Too dressy. Too boring.