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The Harder Problem

by H Sarah Blumenthal

What is YOUR life?  Me, I was a pig and now I am a woman. I was a half, now I am smithereens. It begins like this:


The moths undo my sweaters because they are moths. And moths make moths from moths. I need kitty litter and Adderal.

Most days I need a lot of stuff from the drugstore. You, too? Need stuff from Duane Reade?  We have that between us. A human thing. Kind of a human thing.


My husband? Across a vast and yawning ocean, the profoundest sea. And this, too- six hours ahead in space time. Six hours beyond me. When I’m in pain, pain is already over for him.  He has our little boy and our little girl. I’ve got two oil slick cats who stink professionally- two big, black shitters.

I dig their yellow eyes on me at night. “Howdy, amigos” I say.

“We made you some gifts” they say, and point with the tendrils of their tails to the fat lipped litter box. “Because we care” 

Love you, too, bitches.

Already told you I need kitty litter from Duane Reade.

Downstairs in the cool and dim vestibule, the geriatric supermodel kicks the crap out of my Amazon Prime boxes.  Eff her! Big time! You know she remembers me back when I was beautiful because we were beautiful together, in the same clubs and at all those parties. How long ago that now seems! Before she was a crazy, kicking  vigilante with a fizz of grey hair. And before I became THIS- this- whatever I am now. Don’t you remember the pyramidal bouncers in their dismal suits , rocking those rivers of gold chains, sunglasses 24/7, as they stepped aside, parting those red, red ropes for us? Our legs were mythology. My hair was SO good. And, don’t forget -I used to shower.  On the regular.

In my heyday, in my twenties I wanted only love. WILL. YOU. LOVE.ME?  Is my dress pretty? Is it pretty enough? I never thought for two seconds what the aftermath of love could be- the onslaught, the terror of actual children. Consider the diapers! Diapers and kitty litter? Is that really a life for a person like me? WHATEVER IT IS  I am.

I ask you, is that a life?


She’s so into the kicking she doesn’t see me. Or smell the kitty turds behind her. “Consider this a protein pack for your desiccated ends, be-otch!”  And just then she rings the cops. And that’s when Dr.Millstein takes the kids. 


And the SMITHEREENING business starts again.

Hey, you know something? People who work in restaurants HATE people eating in restaurants.  At least I always did. In my youth I was forever lowering salad onto the table. Forever swishing crumbs across arctic white fields of linen. Eyeballing the clock, shifting the density  of me from stiletto to stiletto. {yeah, I was that kind of waitress} The diners bent their necks away, and i rammed untouched carrots into my cheeks, and held them there for ages, each night- just to have something off their plates. To get at the taste of them. Every evening, I ransacked the trash. And every single  time I found there, embedded, a message, a treat, intended only for my delectation. Propped atop the chicken shards and coffee dregs, a treasure held aloft a secret valentine from creation.

Just. For. Me.


Like when Dr. Millstein got seated in my section, i knew he was intended for me, by the will of God. Freud says there are no accidents. Who knew he’d end up in Stockholm with our kids,that they would ask to leave  their own mother. That I’d land on the “out” list. They tell me they have a step mother now. Yeah. I’ll just bet they do.


Boils down to this: the hard problem of consciousness is that it’s hard to be conscious.

About the Author

H, Sarah Blumenthal is a poet and fiction writer from New York City. She hold degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and The New School. She works as an interior decorator and is pretty good at it.

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