Sleepingfish infinite
Process News 1

from NIECE AUCTION by Sean Kilpatrick


The librarian refused to recognize any aspect of herself others could first. Her mother stuck some scars to a flagship Middle American birth even the eighties wouldn’t spruce up. She hailed from a church she mispronounced and felt equivocal about stirrups. The baby peeled her off with a gesture unsure about this dustier territory. Tantamount with her gender, all choice became muted to the unfortunately presentable world. But no one told her she was special until puberty brought the simulacrum of this effect through revolving male hormones. By then, all she could muster to rebel was the categorization of their shitty and shifting wants. She read too much into the sky. If she guessed herself habituated alongside the institution of another person, they could very well be her coda. Earth wasn’t big enough for the suicide she was planning.

She hopped a curb where the gentrification cooled down to a utopic blend. She awaited the neighborhood children with which she had developed an implicit repartee of give me this and maybe next time. The streets were quiet, except for the occasional and perfunctory screaming. She liked to hear the city call her names. It was the only real parenting she got. She had to incessantly rotate the ability to empathize from her head in order to survive. There is no worse off because we’re already in it. It’s okay. The incalculable masks that go into a timesheet are okay.

She remembered when people read the paper. It made her think she was someone’s ominous dad. She saw her singles ad for the geriatric crowd. She enticed portly gentlemen to pay for dinner and stole their stories with an almost mimicked respect. She wanted men to always see her absconding with their greatest and most vain efforts. Her husband was progressively staved off once she realized he was the result of her believing her own pillow talk. He was the kind of man who would change anything to get married. She required more agency than there was space for in a bedroom. Someone with the perfect balance of indifference and obsession half concerning her. She only said I love you if you wanted her to for months and had finally given up. The individual rejections she would wand about never parsed how little she had been raised. “I never been hungry on food. I just eat to resent being fed.”

She didn’t know whose loss brought people toward her, theirs or hers, or their sense of hers, or their indignation at her preferring her own loss to anyone else’s. She only hoped that she wasn’t so alone in her incontinence. Her husband paid a psychotic amount of attention to detail. She evaded being monitored even during sleep. She startled conscious between snores if someone was admiring her. Her father had scared her of the need to be watched over. He was a loafing doofus mad from lack of her. She would often wake next to a man who was crying to be held. Her husband stayed home with his idea of their kid. He had several degrees in different fields and applied constantly to every job, even fast food, and was rejected because of how intensely she wanted him to work. It wasn’t about money or status, it was about him going away from her, about opening a space where she could begin with someone new. He took up fast food anyway. He ate so much of it their bed was mostly oil. All in her hair, fingerprints of the people grabbing it.

She desired groceries. She purchased everything. Her husband was a just figment of the house she bought. His apnea was his biggest contribution. His undying affection made him worse than any neighbor. He would go at their lawnmower until she was sick of explaining him to her family. He failed to contribute at any gathering. He just wanted to punish her for her not being a kid in the woods with him. No amount of returned affection could meet his severely impractical notion of the word love. She regretted ever having said it back. Saying it meant nothing anyway. The concept was as fake, if not a condition of, the subsequent ritual of marriage. You couldn’t corral these things obtainable to feel better about how they would always fail regardless. Why did she route herself to these locales for the propaganda of fine living? Out of spite, of course, for the conditions that made any form of escape both so necessary and ultimately so unobtainable. People had for many years been reduced to decoration.

She maintained several dating site profiles and they all said easygoing over and over, as if this was an accomplishable trait. DTF, easygoing, serious Christian, but she was none of those things. What she was when she went on a date was approachable, but highly armed. What had been done to her was a status she would refract through everyone’s plaintive concept that caring was indeed possible. She told herself she didn’t need anyone until the people hurt as a consequence of her faulty conviction were forced to scare up some recompense. Anyone who doesn’t need love should need the police if they mean to frivolously test their theory out. She needed those foolish enough to love her distributed to different area codes and bussed in when she could stomach the idea of them. She made you accept any yielded act with a bigger gratitude than her issues with it beforehand might elaborate. She had reduced her husband’s entire input to brief conventional patter. They only stumbled over an occasional glimpse of what they could have been, self-sabotaged because she hated this other person she was fashioning him into. What a sick method of eschewing responsibility, his being so emotionally supportive every attack belonged to her.

Her husband cashed out all his student loans to help her do nothing she couldn’t have done on her own. It was mostly spent on fun meals to apologize to her for being himself. Everyone that looked at her wanted to give her a job. She needed people to think they needed her. Secretly, she couldn’t care less how they might have murdered themselves doing so. But she worked extra hard because it was important to display yourself as a contributor. Her husband had no concept of how he was perceived. He cut his hair with a kitchen knife. He was such an expert at being supportive he had no place for the world. She couldn’t imagine his potential in any corporeal sense and had forgotten what made him once seem spiritually relevant. Maybe it was because he went to the bathroom too many times a day. She had taken to his vastly welcoming parents with a perverse etiquette. She fantasized about them letting her be their caretaker. She was only seen through slips of light even by those who studied hardest. She never condemned a singular location to thoughts amassed to inflict more her. The air would hang. She saw information on any topic as her enemy, wanted things relayed as a sphinxlike riddle or got bored. She had never performed research once, but was afloat with so much conjecture from the people she inspired that everything was known and known brighter.

She forgot people made keeping keys a legitimate condition. She learned to speak from the tooth auto-erotically extracting itself from her skull. That’s how your god would gum you, with hemophilic blasphemes to its image. Once between forever she and her husband crapped out on the expectations of their union in order to enjoy each other’s presence. She wasn’t busy making this impossible with other men. He wasn’t busy picturing who those men could be, if they weren’t already near. They shared a frolic without code. They were aware of the illness of events outside and were thus prepared for pregnancy against those odds. They’d feed their baby its own glossolalia. It would muscle through a conga line of other it to rebuild the lies they knew. They would send it into the canned matter of other viable heads and claim whatever backwash. It felt uselessly evil enough to repair their feelings. The barbeques they wished they’d jumped into. They were doing it to appreciate silence again. Another them they pretended wouldn’t die in the same position. We have to put up curtains on our adventure or they’ll ban our DNA.

Process News

Sean Kilpatrick is published or forthcoming in BOMB, Boston Review, New York Tyrant, Columbia Poetry Review, Vice, is a Best American Essays 2014 Notable and his novella Sucker June is forthcoming next year.


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