Arthur’s mother died in the 10th grade. About fifty people from his class came to her funeral, he remembers that day, it was a warm day in fall, and he didn’t mind so much being sad, as long as he didn’t have to be in control, it was alright. He walked with the casket and spoke during the service, and afterward went to a living room where he was given a chair to sit in and girls from his class sat around him and on the floor and put their hands on his knee and leg and sometimes on his shoes.
For a few months afterwards Arthur loved people, without caring too much about them. Thoughts of his mother crept by. Sometimes he saw her floating above him near the ceiling when he took a bath: She wore a black wool skirt and jacket, gold buttons and a thin white line up the front. She had on colorless pantyhose but no shoes, and he couldn’t help thinking it must feel good to be suspended in the air with no shoes, with just pantyhose between the soles of your feet and all of space. Her eyes blinked continuously, her hair blowing across her forehead.
He thought, She is suspended.
Girls in school gave him hugs when they said he was looking sad; boys nodded solemnly.
When he changed his clothing, his mother sat on the dresser. It was high so she had to bend her neck to keep her head from striking the ceiling. She wore running shorts and a red sweatshirt. Heavy socks. Her sneakers looked very clean. He wanted to ask her where these clothes had come from. The suit was familiar, but not this athletic gear. Sometimes it looked a little like she was laughing, which scared him, but not enough for him to want her to go away.
At night he did not dream about her, instead he dreamed about amnesia, he would stand in a furnished room in a house or walk the length of a crowded avenue, thinking how he should know exactly where he was, what was the next step, what his own name was, but he could not remember. He would see a commonplace object on the table, but be unable to recall the word they were using to refer to it “these days,” which in the dream he put to himself as, “this time,” examining the turquoise digits of a clock radio someone had left sitting on a couch. He could hear traffic outside. Otherwise in his dreams he ate. He ate mixing bowls of milk and cereal, he ate heads of lettuce whole like apples, he poured boxes of sugar into his mouth and listened to the sounds of his mother and father talking, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of going into the city or buying a convection microwave.
In the dream he became sleepy. He kept fighting to stay awake until the last word, filling himself with more sustenance.