By Isabelle B.L
It survived a run-in with the power nozzle by clinging to the bristles, narrowly escaping the drain. So stubborn.
After its separation from the old, blue bath towel, I couldn’t discard the long, blue thread. I folded the towel, stashed it away at the bottom of the bathroom cabinet, and let the long, blue thread linger around the house. The thread camouflaged with the tiles, stuck to the striped curtains, hid in crevices until I pulled it out. Such a tease.
When I reread the same paragraph repeatedly, his name creeping between the punctuation, competing fervently with Rodolphe Boulanger, I got up for my usual no-cooking-required meal. The long, blue thread hovered over the pedal bin. I threatened to drop it in the middle of an orange peel and an empty can of baked beans. Instead, I abandoned the thread in a drawer with a Nokia 8810, a hairbrush with bristles that used to stand upright, and business cards from defunct establishments, including one from a Parisian fromagerie where we spread Bleu d’Auvergne over crusty baguettes. The useless drawer.
Cheese! Plenty of photo moments. His collection included the latest in optical viewfinders, crop-sensors, and aperture priority modes. He used to thrust the heavy-duty hardware upon a stranger, gesturing when foreign words created a barrier to communication. After the bath towel’s owner left, I thought I had charred the one hundred photos we took together, but photo number ninety-nine lay inside page 260 of Madame Bovary. I too believed that he loved me. That he wasn’t a womanizer like Rodolphe, but Emma and I were both duped. Photo number ninety-nine captured a pyramid-shaped ceiling and a King’s castle behind smiles rivalling that of Mona Lisa’s. Ambiguous. The second-last click marked the end of foreign travel.
Finding that photo triggered a tirade. The long, blue thread dangled from the balcony, then fell gracefully onto the concrete car park. Still amid uneaten breadcrumbs, the long, blue thread appeared to be a long, blue worm. A choking hazard for baby birds. I ran down the steps, two-by-two; I swooped, seized my prey, and placed it on the checkered red and white tablecloth scattered with week-old crumbs.
I pinched at the long, blue thread, which stood between the dead flowers—unidentifiable petals—on the balcony. It had been a while since I picked up my miniature spade with its floral handle, slid on snug gloves that felt like a second pair of hands, mixed different soils, and enjoyed cups of black tea or glasses of rosé between apricot-colored begonias, dangling fuchsias, and busy Lizzies in hues of purple. I propelled the long, blue thread over the balcony, peered to watch its landing place, clutched potted plants, and embedded my nails with dirt. The neighbor’s Fiat ran over the blue snagged thread. Saying goodbye would never be easy.
Once the thread’s gone, I’ll get rid of the towel, I said to myself, wiping my face ten times with my sleeve.
The next day, I found the long, blue thread stuck to the bottom of a shopping bag. Then, it appeared on a welcome mat. Dangled from the key stand. Under the coffee table, snaked between the seven, five, and three of the remote, entwined around the handle of the laundry basket.
Some couples have Kenny Rogers. Others, a special day to celebrate their firsts. I turn around, hang up, don’t answer women with diamond-encrusted rings. We had a blue towel with loose fibers and poor absorbency. He wrapped it around my spine-tingling skin before my body lost its purity. We engaged, then disengaged. Cotton filaments breaking—engagements too.
My eyes glimmered through many springs before they dulled again when the oaks and maples became bare. He’s not coming back.
This year, rather than continue to wait for him, I did what others usually do: spring clean. Removed dust, grime, and his pencil shavings that had settled in narrow spaces. Scrubbed ceramic surfaces where his Blue Musk deodorant still lingered, vacated useless drawers, and applied the six-month rule: if I haven’t used it in six months, bin it. I used the blue bath towel to wipe away tears and scrub unyielding mold and mildew and memories from the bathroom. Bleach made my bathroom tiles whiter. The room became instantly brighter and full of clarity. I finally removed gray from my space.
The long, blue thread missed the spring clean, but during a balmy day in December, sipping iced tea between begonias, fuchsias, and busy Lizzies, I dropped the long, blue thread into the bin with homemade lasagne leftovers. When the weary rubbish collector dropped the long, blue thread’s temporary accommodation, he gathered what he could, but some things remained obstinate like me when I refused to believe he was behaving like Rodolphe. From my streak-free dining-room window, the long, blue thread mocked me from its perforated bin bag, teasing me like the former towel owner did when I finally asked if he were Rodolphe, and I, Emma.
The fine strand, beat but not beaten, lay in the gutter before torrential rain carried it away down a sewage system.
Thankfully, I’m threadbare no more.