moment Daisy realized she was frozen, and by frozen, I mean completely frozen; a
solid, rectangular block of ice, she felt panic harden.
She had been walking up the sidewalk, had stopped to look at the roof of
the house, something had glimmered at the edge of it, and the next thing she
knew, she couldn’t lift her foot to move it.
Nor could she move her lips to speak, to scream.
It had happened that fast—she was suddenly unable to move, frozen
Sure, the ice plates of her body would shift occasionally, like any other
solid, but movement came from external sources, not internal ones, from the wind
and the tilting of the earth, from the temperature dropping, from the pull of
the moon and the snow that fell, later, and coated her head and shoulders.
was strangely calm to be a frozen girl. Not that she had ever been one to
be overly emotional. She knew women
that were, and found them a bother. So
caught up in things. So busy
feeling. They were the types that
never balanced their checkbooks, never check the gas gage.
They were the ones that listened to their biological clocks.
God how she hated that term. In
Daisy’s mind, sex was math, calculated and a matter of odds.
When she told her friend Jane this, Jane had dropped her mouth open in
horror. Didn’t she feel anything?
A tug a pull a desire? How did she
explain those things in mathematical terms?
Didn’t she wish for something that wasn’t concrete, something that
couldn’t be tallied?
She had wished for a twin sister when she was young, and as she stood in
the yard, she realized it would have been nice to have another side of
her--equally frozen-- like two popsicle. She
would like the symmetry, the balance of company. Instead she stood facing
the house she had grown up in, not thinking all that much, just watching lights
flicker on at the neighbors’ houses now that it was dusk. She watched
the wind in the trees, the crows flying in circles, the squirrels scampering up
trunks of trees with chunks of newspaper in their mouths.
one seemed to notice her there, and she wondered if she was invisible too.
And if she was invisible, did she exist at all? What made a woman a woman?
Besides the obvious. She knew there
was no mistaking her for a woman. She
had been blessed with a woman’s body, curvy and long, she had the fine
features that catch men’s eyes. She
knew she added up to an attractive woman, and she knew it had gotten her a job
or two, and let her through doors, into rooms she wouldn’t have had a chance
to enter if she hadn’t been pretty. If
she didn't move, wasn't visible, didn't consume a thing, did she exist?
A shot of panic moved through her body.
And for the first time, she saw this as a good thing.
If you could still panic, you must be alive.
mind fought the idea of no longer existing. For one thing, she had just
taken the trash out to the alley, had been doing something useful. Okay,
she made a couple mistakes. Didn't bother to put a jacket on, despite the
17 below temperature, left her cell phone on the kitchen counter (not that she
could answer or dial it now), and she didn't tell anyone she was finally
cleaning out her father’s house. Her
brothers had done all the hard work. Were
there taking turns nursing her father as he died, helping their mother through
it all. Billy had moved their mother
in with him, and Tony and Lou had found the realtor, had moved all the big
furniture out, had asked Daisy if she had wanted anything, for sentimental
reasons and she had laughed. Surely
they knew her by now. The last thing
Daisy was, was sentimental.
Tony had left a message on her answering machine asking if she could
finish cleaning out the house. There
wasn’t much left, but his wife was about to deliver their third child and he
couldn’t get to it. Lou was in
She had gone over after work, figuring it wouldn’t take long, didn’t
bother telling anyone she was finally getting around to it.
Hardly big mistakes. More like errors in judgment.
But to stop existing altogether didn't make sense. Besides, icicles
existed. They had weight and volume, they could be held in your hand.
Ice was something real. Frozen was a state. So she must still exist.
And if she could think, she must still be alive.
house was empty. She had taken the last bag of trash out, just needed to
wash the floors and then call the realtor and give him the keys.
And it had been just as she expected.
She knew she was supposed to feel something as she sorted through her
father's things, and that she didn’t, didn’t feel a thing. Expected to
feel a sadness but found instead that each object was just that, an object; a
toaster, a drill, a dresser, a television and remote. Now that he no
longer used them, they seemed ordinary, their existence purely as the function
they preformed. She had felt a wave of sadness when she found the shoe
polish and the rag he had used to polish the heavy black shoes he had worn to
work. She had frowned because the rag was bent and dirty, crusted with
polish and when she picked it up, she knew what it had felt like in his hands.
The sky shifted into a muddy purple, the stars came out one by one and
Daisy knew this was going to be a night she'd never forget.
She never realized how hard it was to just be.
To just stand and watch the world fall into night.
Everything around her was changing. The
snow went from blue to gray, (from 6 to 7—colors for her had numbers attached
to them, everything did) the sky from purple (4) to charcoal (13), the birds
tucked themselves in for the night, as did the squirrels.
Car tires squeaked on the snowy roads.
Dogs barked to be let in. Doors
slammed. The street lights came on,
slowly warming up to the idea, made haloes on the ground and she wished she had
one shining on her. There was a
freedom in being frozen, the cold no longer mattered, it was just a fact.
It was just what she was.
And she knew it wasn’t that hard for her, to not feel.
She had never been every good at it.
Each boyfriend had said the same thing.
You just don’t feel anything. It
had never bothered her much, because it was true, and feeling were overrated, as
far as she could see. Sure, you
needed them for the big things, but not every day. Numbers
and facts were much easier to deal with. Better
friends, better to fall in love with.
Daisy stood in the shadow of bare trees in the yard she had chased her
brothers in, played of all things—frozen tag, stood in the spot, she just
realized, where she had let V.J. slid his hands from her waist up to her bra,
where he had circled in as they had kissed, teeth knocking for the first time.
V.J. had been a quiet boy with the most beautiful eyelashes and a head
for math. Her parents never realized
what the two of them were adding up to, not until the wastebasket in her room
with the multitude of used condoms was discovered by her little brother.
V. J. liked sex. Loved saying
Daisy’s name as she climbed on top of him.
She had liked it too, like the ritual of doing their homework, getting
most of it done, and then V.J. with the eraser of his pencil, would trace the
shape of her shoulder or arm, the curve of her breast.
She continued working as he undressed her, so that by the time she did
the last equation she was completely nude, had V.J. focused on some sweet spot
of her body. She still thinks of her
favorite number when she orgasms. Sometimes
finds herself multiplying the biggest numbers she can, making her body wait
until she gets the final answer.
She got an A in calculus, so her parents weren’t as upset as she
thought they were going to be when her little brother told everyone at dinner
that Daisy had a lot of see-through balloons in her trash can. Strange ones,
some long, some rolled into little circles.
It had never occurred to her that maybe her parents were pleased, that if
she was showing normal desires and feelings, that she was in fact not as
detached as they thought and feared she was.
As she stood there, in the night air, she felt her body stirring and was
thrilled to know she could still feel something, even if it was an old memory,
even if V.J. was bald and living in
She had always been thin, still was, and knew her body hadn’t changed
much--except that it was now frozen.
She watched as the moon broke the top of trees, and wondered what she had
done to deserve this. Sure, she
could be cold, turn cool when she started to lose interest in a man, in a thing.
But she never believed in pretending anything.
She wished her feelings were like numbers, but emotions were more like
the weather, shifting and changing with the light of day, and the darkness night
The kitchen light turned on at the Murphy’s house next door.
She watched as Mrs. Murphy stood at the sink washing a frying pan.
From this distance, she looked the same as she has when Daisy was a girl.
She remembered a night when she was ten or eleven.
Her mother had gone over to return a book she had borrowed.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It
was a spring night and Daisy had been playing cards with her brother Billy, on
the back porch.
The sound of women’s voices filtered through the night air.
Daisy recognized her mother’s voice every so often, but not the words.
She and Billy were playing war and it was getting brutal.
Neither of them liked to lose.
Billy had slapped a card down and the quiet that followed made the small
blond hairs on her arms stand up straight. The
absence of sound. She felt too a
charge, a bolt of emotion. The sob
that followed felt like soft thunder. When
she heard her mother repeating, its okay, its okay, it will be okay…Daisy knew
it would. She had heard her mother
say those words to her, to her brothers and she had always been right.
Watching Mrs. Murphy now, she wondered what it had been that had made her
sob. Daisy knew she had felt things
as a girl, knew too she had dismissed feelings as she grew up.
Labeled them weak and unnecessary and did her best to avoid them and
situations that required them. The
light in the kitchen flicked off at the Murphy’s house and she wondered if her
mother had been right, if whatever had made Mrs. Murphy cry out like a wounded
animal had ever been okay. If you
feel something that deeply, does the hurt ever go away?
Daisy felt the ice on her face shift, crack.
She wished she could bring her hands to her face, push it way, but she
couldn’t move her arms at all. It
was snowing now, gently and she could feel it hit her shoulders and head.
She wanted to stick out her tongue and catch a flake or two.
Loved doing that.
A wave of sadness passed over her, and with it another shift in her icy
body. Yes, she thought. All I have
to do is feel, feel intensely and I will thaw, thaw enough to break out of this
It wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be.
She thought about the obvious things first.
Mopsey, when he was hit by a car, her mother’s illness, her father’s
death. She thought about people she
missed, her father and Billy’s ex-wife most of all.
She thought about men she had loved, but never enough.
The ice of her body cracked, but not enough to move.
She started to feel mad. Mad
that her sadness wasn’t sufficient.
She thought about Ryan, how he had told her she lacked warmth.
He had accused her of loving numbers more than him.
Numbers were predictable, she had said.
They always do the same thing. They
don’t come home late, they don’t eat the last peach and deny it.
Numbers are not flighty or emotional.
They don’t have to grow up.
As she stood there, in the backyard, the only person out, and seemingly
still awake in the neighborhood, it made her smile to think he had been right.
She lacked warmth. Was never
hot under the collar, never burning with desire, never in heat, fired up,
ablaze. Yes, funny as he was, he had
been right. Daisy felt a laugh
coming on, remembered how he used to dance and sing this god awful math song he
had made up, just to annoy her. One
and one equals you and me. Add it up
baby and see how much less your life would be, minus me.
Something shifted. Her smile
broke through and before she could stop it, she was laughing, loud and hard.
She felt the ice flake from her body, felt the heat of love rise.
Her heart beat strong and she found that if she picked up her foot, she
could dance. And she did.
Dance in the backyard, the snow squeaking under her shoes.
She kicked it up, watched it glitter in the night air.
Her whole body moving, she danced, the night sky her partner, the world,
her dance floor. She looked up at
the sky, found the north star and made her wish.
She didn’t care how late it was, it was time to put numbers and logic
away, try and erase all the lines she had drawn, the ones she would never have
crossed, until now.