by Angel Dionne

You aren’t who you once were. You aren’t the same as you were before this happened—this terrible thing which we can’t explain. Even your eye color has changed. It was once a deep brown, the color of freshly cracked hazelnuts, or spring mud. Now your eyes are a bit duller. They resemble hay tied into bales in a dusty old barn. Your tone of voice, the way you tuck your hair behind your ears, the way you sip your coffee, your breathing at night—it’s all different. 

Neither of us are sure what happened that night. You retired to the bathroom after dinner. You had a headache and you took two Advil with a glass of cold water before heading upstairs. The sound of faucet water splashing against the sides of the tub could be heard all the way from the kitchen. After about an hour, you still had not emerged. 

“Everything okay up there?” 

“I’m fine, just taking my time,” you replied. 

But something was off. It wasn’t anything alarming, just a barely noticeable drop in the tone of your voice—as if you had just woken up from a particularly deep slumber. You came out of the bathroom around 8:00 with your yellow hair tied up in a towel and a pair of pink pajamas draped over your thin frame. 

“How was the bath?” 

“It was great,” you said. “My headache is gone and I feel relaxed.” 

Something had changed. Something was missing. You seemed happy enough—as if nothing had changed, but I could tell something had taken place. Had something inside of you, some important piece of yourself, fallen away from you? Had it twirled its way down the drain along with the soapy bathwater? We went to bed, and your breaths skipped a beat. Your breathing was no longer the same. 

The next morning you ate a can of sardines on toast for breakfast. You used to hate sardines and complained whenever a can was opened. The smell was always too much for you. But that morning, you scarfed the small fish down as if they were the best thing you had ever tasted. Then, you painted your lips with pink lipstick—a color you once hated. You preferred deep reds, mauves, and browns since they complemented your skin tone. Or at least, that’s what you used to say. Why didn’t you seem conscious of these changes? These sudden, terrible changes. 

“Did you want to go to the movies tonight?” 

“You know, a good book sounds like a much better idea,” you replied over dinner. 

A book? You’ve never been much of a reader. You’ve never so much as touched the bookshelf in the five years we have been living together. Suddenly, you were reading Les Misérables—consuming it as voraciously as you had consumed the sardines this morning. Your eyebrows furrowed and you chewed your bottom lip as you studied the pages. You didn’t come to bed until 2 AM that night.

“You’ve changed.” 

“Only in the slightest way,” you said. 

You crawled into bed and nestled your nose into my hair. Something small had happened. Something small and terrible—parts of you running downstream with the bathwater.

Angel Dionne is a professor at the University of Moncton – Edmundston Campus. She is also an interdisciplinary PhD student at the University of New Brunswick. Her area of specialty includes surrealism, existentialism, and the absurd. In addition, she is the founder of The Peculiar Mormyrid Surrealist Journal.
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