Agnes Person | Surfactants

Below is Part 19 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.

◄◄ Read the prologue / introduction: Meet Agnes Person
◄ Read the previous installment | Eyestalks


Up early with morning sickness, Agnes Person pulls her ponytail offside and hunches over the toilet. TN cocks his head and thumps his tail against the tub. The dog is concerned, and Agnes leans on his back to right herself. Standing with effort, she breathes deeply and stretches her arms to their limits, today, her limits. The walls of the small apartment are still warm from yesterday’s August scorcher. Agnes yawns. Too hot to sleep, she stayed up much of the night watching British nannies with clandestine sentiments.

Nothing like a good barf to feel better.

Ready for pushback, ta-ta, she sculpts her hair. Within the hour, the sulky tilt turns granite. Carved strands frame her brow like cliffs. Stone rivulets part and define the small of her back with delta flare.

Ah, geologically adjusted, Agnes feels ready for nurse Jena’s phone call about trimester woes. Agnes wants to know when Baby begins to dream. She shuts her eyes and sees patterns of red and white—Adria’s blood cells, lacy nerve endings, palm whorls.

Agnes decides to bail on this first-thing phone call and walk TN around the block. Agnes moves stiffly, fearful of cracking her stone hair. Good boy, TN does not pull on the leash. He leads his mistress like a service dog, does his business in the vacant lot, and navigates the steep stairwell, pausing on each step.

Back inside the apartment, TN sprawls across the couch, leaving his owner the big chair for Sit. Agnes opts to preserve her stone hair and Stay standing. Running a finger across the table, she decides to dust what shows before she tires under the head weight of igneous rock.

Agnes admires the almond odor of the furniture polish. Before shaking the can, she reads the label, the manufacturer’s dusting pledge:

Stop hiding behind old wax.

Bring out inner beauty.

Do not spray on floors and flies.

Sun may burst.

After Baby is born, she, too, can write copy for canned household products.

Agnes does her best with surface gleam, but soon needs a rest. She dials FM radio—opera, oh boy, Mozart. In his last act, Don Giovanni invites the stone statue of an elderly gent he has murdered to come to dinner: RSVP, sneers the bully tenor Don G.

TN growls.

The statue arrives on time. Agnes listens to him rumbling in the lowest register audible to the human ear.

The stone man warns Don G, Repente, repente.

TN cowers.

Non, non! toasts the Don, flaunting as his many crimes buckles his castle walls and collapses the floors.

TN barks.

A horrid hellsmouth opens, fiery as a glass factory, and the Don evaporates. Like music, his particles mingle with the molten glass.

He is the gleam, Agnes muses, in hand-blown tumbler, sleek vase, silvered mirror. Evil as he is, we reflect the Don, put him to our lips, pleasure our faces, surrender.

Father figure, her shrink would say about the statue. And, yes, the stone man was someone’s dad, no doubt, difficult at times. But art can avenge.

Refreshed, Agnes breaks up her stone hair with a piano-tuner’s mallet. Sweeping up the semicircle of rubble, she saves the more interesting pieces for her fishbowl Zen and Pal.

But what if park statues could come to dinner, grow appetites and real hair—bushy manes on lions, hairballs under stately raised arms, little love curls between pedestal legs. For sure, City Hall would appoint Shave Managers. They would never let Agnes recycle the trimmings as a grand public work, a giant Hair Henge aligned for astral events.

Yet, if the gods lacked hair, would humans bother with fashion looms—the Age of Clothes? Agnes pats TN and considers the tonnage required to dress a prudish world. What next? Must the gods go bald?


►  Next Installment | The Dodie Medallions

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