By Gabriel Don
The tree outside her window was obscured by a pink piece of cardboard. A plane crashing would not wake her but the slightest beam of light kept her from sleep. On this day, that she realised the multiple futures and the importance of having fifty faces, she contemplated the Spanish men who had told her, over sangria, about the lovers they had left behind. Anasthesia was her name. I’m sure she is as happy to meet you as I hope you are her. Her mother had a fondness for the Greeks and not spelling words as people say we ought to. We also, because of her mother’s wishes, can never abbreviate her name due to it reminding Sarah, her mother, of working women.
Once a woman of a certain age decides she must have a room of her own, and that people ought to knock before entering, Anasthesia put on her hat, despite its itchiness and as always (because she never really knew what she was doing till she was doing it) wondered what should be done. Her house was an old holocaust museum and she hadn’t realised this, mainly because the sign was backwards and she didn’t speak German till a friend had declared ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ meant ‘Work Will Free You.’ The guard tower and barbed wire had not given it away. At the age of twenty one something very interesting occurred in Anasthesia’s life, the universe, being random, forced her to lead more lives than one. And to this very day she is not quite sure which one she really lived. True story. She told me over coffee.
The day Anasthesia was born the wind was blowing so hard all the washing came off the line. Her father, often a pessimist, was certain the world was coming to an end. “See I told you, we should have changed our ways (and he wasn’t in the slightest bit religious) I knew this day would come…” and he continued to rant on about the downfalls of capitalism and its unnecessary place in the world. His wife, currently squeezing, pushing and agonizingly trying to get a child out of her uterus, told him for the very first time but definitely not the last, “Fuck, I’d wish you shut up. ” On this note the large woven wooden star sitting above the bed fell and out came Anasthesia.
Sarah’s mother Lara had, at the age of nineteen, two lovers. One of whom she had been with on and off since the age of eleven. It started with a kiss in the cupboard. Her father had caught them and kicked him out of the house. Then at fourteen she discovered the more serious side of playing sexually. She touched and was touched in all the places she didn’t quite yet understand. He had pulled out a condom and Lara was shocked and refused whatever it was she was supposed to do with it. Her sister had to explain to her that some people have sex. A couple of years later they had sex. He was Italian and named Paulo. He was very hairy and Lara started to like the look of a man with a hairy chest. The other lover she took on was his brother Dominic.
One day Lara started feeling very sick, like she was on a boat or jetty with wobbly sea legs. She had just started university and it was very disruptive to her tutorials. She vomited for a month before she realised she was pregnant. She didn’t know if it was Paulo’s or Dominic’s so she decided to never see either of them again. She caught a taxi home after university and the driver was a beautiful Japanese man.
“Do you like traffic?” He asked peering back with his sexy eyes.
Lara, Anasthesia’s Grandmother thought, ‘What an odd question,’ and answered, “No.”
“I like looking at all the different cars”
“That’s a very positive way to see it.”
“What music do you like?”
This carried on for the whole ride until Lara had reached her destination and realised she didn’t want to get out of the car. She leaned into the front seat and kissed him. He lifted up her shirt, admired her beautiful nipples and turned her onto her back. While they were fucking in the front seat of the car, covered in sweat, Lara noticed how due to his lack of body hair, she couldn’t get a grip. She tried to grab onto his back but he slipped through her hands like an eel.
Lara, pregnant with Sarah, moved to an apricot farm. She never married and Sarah never knew who her father was. Her mother told her she was immaculately conceived and was the last child of the sun god Aten. Lara had become pregnant while eating an apricot and accidentally swallowed the seed which swelled up in her belly. Nine months later a bright light came out of her mouth and she coughed up Sarah. Sarah grew up with labourers in white shirts, blue overalls and big brown hats. She would pick fruit and drop them into a cloth covered in pictures of corn and melons. She’d find shade under a tree, hide from her mother—who would insist on talking everything out—and read her books while sipping cranberry juice from a canteen.
Anasthesia’s father George was a very erratic yet decisive man. He would change his mind profusely but always do so with conviction. Like Sarah, George was raised without a dad. In the absence of a father he came up with a very clear idea of what a father is and should do. None of which he himself as father was and did. George and Sarah were both desperate to grow up and become adults. They didn’t like being children because there was always something they weren’t allowed to do just because of it. On a very quiet day, where one could hear a drip of water from a thousand miles away, a tarot card was dug up by a dog. On the top of the card was a sun. On the bottom of the sun was an angel emerging from the clouds with arms raised, palms facing outward. Below, in front of a mountain, feet firmly on the earth stood a naked man and a naked women. The card, which was the sixth trump or major arcana, was called ‘The Lovers’ and out of it stepped George and Sarah, who made a decision, not lightly, to sacrifice their other desires and make a choice. The relationship they chose was each other. Anasthesia—who at fourteen was convinced she was a witch and played with magic—would often ask to tell her mother’s fortune and when ever ‘The Lover’ card appeared her mum would sigh and say, “That’s how I met your father.”
It all began that day, aforementioned when Anasthesia was feeling annoyed with light. Why, she wondered, did things absorb all the colours of the spectrum they truly were and what we see is everything she is not. Why did she not mean everything she said?
She pulled herself together long enough to leave the house and went to a book launch of a poet she had heard talking on the radio, about gum nuts and seas. It was there she met an old grey man, crinkled like a sheet, who told her she was beautiful. She had heard it many times before but never believed it. For some reason, this time, she did. Seeing as though she had no idea what she was doing with herself, when given Connor’s number, who was for the record over seventy, she called. She called because—inspired by reading Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, she would become a mistress. Not with a married man of course and only in a couple of her lives. She had declared long ago to a friend it was wrong (being with someone who had another) and hated hypocrites, favouring honesty, even where she was at a loss. In another life, which I’ll get to later, she told a man whom she was in love with, that in their first month of meeting, because he didn’t want to make a commitment, she had tried to put her eggs in more than one basket to save herself from becoming full of holes, and he never forgave her. She hadn’t even liked the other man who took her on a date but it destroyed what she believed at the time was her one true love. We’ll find out later if that was the case.
So she packed her bags and moved to the country. She never slept with Connor. He wasn’t capable but she walked around the house naked, as she had in every life always found nudity preferable. She loved touching herself while he watched on, feeling there was nothing more powerful than being a young woman. For the record, in another life, she thought there was nothing more powerless. Connor was a very successful poet and had been published numerous times. Since this was one of her dreams, and people like to attach themselves to their dreams, she drank tea with him, painted while he looked out at the hills and told her things like, “Look at the curves, doesn’t it buzz like sunshine.” She would look in his eyes and exude the impression that it was the most meaningful thing she had ever heard. She had by now—please be confused if I jump around, Anasthesia didn’t believe in time and other man-made constructions and she made me promise if I was ever to write her story that I should move between the present and past tense frivolously— decided that she so wished she could have sex, with anyone. On Monday night (as she always began her new resolutions on the new week: one could never start dieting, exercising, a new hobby, plan, anything without Sunday finishing) she cooked him a roast.
He sat down and stared at her long hair, that was covering her breasts, and her blue eyes and she told him, “Can I sleep with other people?”
“Only women,” he replied.
“I don’t feel that would be cheating.”
It was at this point that she realised, Connor and her did not have as much in common as she first thought. She did however like women. Her fantasies more often than not would have them in it.
“I can’t believe you would say such a thing.” Anasthesia stood up, stabbed the big kitchen knife into her pork belly and ran outside, grabbing an overpriced bottle of wine from his rack on the way. She mounted her bicycle and put the wine into the basket. She rang the bell in a circus type theme and rode to the closest house. She knocked on the door. A man, quite handsome, luckily, answered the door. She grabbed the back of his head and kissed him vigorously, biting his lip so hard she may have drawn blood. She was naked at the time, so he quickly pulled her inside and she returned the favour.
It was never discussed again and Connor and her lived happily. Happiness not being infinite soon ran out. The garden parties and philosophical debates were still brilliant but Anasthesia felt more lonely (clichés often being true) than not in a room full of people. At night she lay staring at Connor who snored very loudly and found herself talking to him more when he was asleep. The following December Anasthesia went to visit her brother Tobias who had just been married. She arrived by plane and Tobias came to pick her up, and to her surprise his tall body had a papoose carrying a child attached. Over dinner that night after too many drinks, Tobias questioned her about her life. The discussion became filled with anger and they tried to hurt each other with their words. His new wife who was awfully prim and didn’t know aggressive debates and tears were all part of a normal drinking evening with Tobias and Anasthesia, kicked her out of the house.
The next morning Anasthesia felt very sick. She changed her ticket and flew home, getting a taxi to the big country house. She admired its patio from the window and the drive up the long dirt road which no matter how hard they tried wouldn’t keep its grassy side path. She thought about how much she loved the house—its vines that covered it, the one circular window—and decided that it may be time to be happy again. She went inside very hopeful and walked past all the paintings by people who were only famous after they died, and screamed while entering the bedroom, “Connor, I need a hug!” Connor was straddling a man, about forty, with dashing grey hair.