I seem to nap these days. Mid-morning, I can’t seem to move anymore. I find myself unbearably sleepy, and I don’t know if I just need the sleep or if it’s having a toddler out a lot of the morning, and it is his sleep cycle that is running my life.
But I wake up as a vague, confused Annoushka. She misses Natashka. She misses sex. It crosses her mind that Natashka is dead and this is permanent.
She begins to cry. The loss is unfathomable. It is like the sun going out for her. She is not like Sam or like Charlie. She doesn’t want reminders. She doesn’t want something to remember her by. Natashka is dead. Everything good ought to die along with her. And she is enveloped by a sense of deadness and despair.
She realizes without Natashka she isn’t even sure who she is or whether she exists. She lived almost entirely in that world. It occurs to me that she has occupied a narrower slice of my life than most of the other parts have. She isn’t even really sure what she likes to do.
She likes music. She knows that much. She remembers jumping on the beds. She liked that. It seems to me also that she is the one who liked roller skating, that she would have liked to ride a bike, that she is the one who used to climb trees. Annoushka is my kinesthaetic self, it seems, but there is sort of nothing beyond that. Or not much anyway. Not that there couldn’t be more, but she has never had a chance to explore anything. The fears of the other parts kept her wrapped up tight inside me. The compulsion to follow rules did too.
But it means she feels herself as someone who existed in slices, who was not complete in the way that Charlie might be, or Verka. Without Natashka, even that slice seems to be gone.
The idea of tea comes up. She is crying in a despairing way, and tea usually helps. I think I’m pushing the idea, but maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s someone else. Anyway, there is this insistent idea: Go make tea.
She finally does. She doesn’t know if she likes it. She doesn’t know how she likes it prepared. We make it strong and sweet with cardamom. She drinks it afterwards. It’s okay. She’s not wild about it, but it reminds her of something she does like.
She likes Coca-cola. She also likes grape soda and strawberry soda too. So that’s something.
Then she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Verka likes to draw. Verka also wants a tattoo. Verka has been planning to design a tattoo to have done later and she hasn’t gotten to starting it. So Annoushka thinks she might like to try that. Maybe she likes drawing too. She doesn’t know.
I’m not aware of what happens as we’re drawing, if she remains there or if she switches out again. She seems to recede, but she doesn’t disappear entirely, and the tattoo design is not quite finished, but we’re happy with it as an idea—as a start on things.
I make roti again after that, and Charlie seems to come forward then. Annoushka disappears. Her bit of the afternoon is over.
But it makes me realize her slice of the world was always too small. She is, to some extent, what I might have been if I had been less frightened, if I hadn’t needed to be so careful of everything, and it would have been nice to have that part of myself be more developed.
It also makes me realize that mostly what she has of my life is sexual. She has abuse and she has sex. She has punk rock and jumping on the beds and makeup. And not much else.
Nonetheless, there is something real and important in those experiences Natashka was the same person doing those things as she was doing other things, and Annoushka has as genuine a sense of her personality as any of the other parts. Natashka was passionate and also immensely tender. She was beautiful and feminine and in some ways vulgar. Annoushka saw such a small slice of her, and yet she saw everything there was. She did not miss out on anything.
And yet she feels she did. She feels I had only sex. And really what she has is how Natashka made her feel within her own body and the sense that Natashka’s touch gave her about herself. It’s important, but it feels to her like nothing.
She doesn’t even have the pictures that go with that. Sam has lullabies and Charlie has her scent and Verka has play, but what does Annoushka have?
Something important. But it feels to her it is not enough. Natashka didn’t exist just to make her feel good about herself.
But that’s not all you had, Annoushka. You felt good because of who she was. You have something too. What you have is just harder to pin down.
You have someone’s capacity to love and to care. You have her protectiveness and her loyalty and her fierceness and her gentleness. You have the tigress.