Fading

Petar Ramadanovic

You’ve been fading lately, my wife says. You used to have this presence and now, look at you. You are almost see-through.

I’ve noticed that too. Even my shoes have gotten kind of fadeish. Not worn out, not gray, not dusty, but lacking in intensity as if I were half turned off. I wonder where the other part is now.

Where do you think the fade goes? Somewhere like France, I hope?

More likely into a different dimension, says my wife.

Or perhaps it turns into dust or something, I muse.

When I go to a chiropractor who was highly recommended by my wife’s friend, he is puzzled. It’s rare. Heard of it but has never actually seen it.

He is pensive and suggests he’d give me a general to see if something pops up. He says “pops up” with a popping sound and a big smile.

Nothing pops up. And I am no wiser. I thought chiropractors knew everything.

He thought so, too.

He does have a theory. You may want to go frighten yourself to death and see if your intensity improves.

Like with hiccups, when someone scares you, I say slowly.

Exactly! Like hiccups, he says with that big smile he turns on when he is uncertain.

Do you urinate a lot? he asks matter-of-factly.

Do I? I can’t tell. What‘s a lot? Not any more than I take in, I hope.

How about gas?

Gas?! I say thinking. I don’t answer doctor’s questions well. I have gas. But then I assume everyone has gas, don’t they?! Are there people without gas?

Ammonia! he says again as if he were only talking to himself, not waiting for my response.

Ammonia, what? I ask expecting him to finish his thought.

He hesitates.

When I go home, I try to frighten myself. It’s not that easy. You’ve got to believe in something.

I ask wife to scare me but then I expect to be scared and all her attempts make us both feel very self-conscious which is not how we like to feel in front of one another.

She says, read something scary. That may be the only way.

I still have the same problem. Read what?

Creepy stuff, what they call horror, makes me nauseous thinking about the kind of people who can think up such shit.

My wife asks me to read this story about the sacrifice to god called Toci. A girl is decapitated then skinned and a boy who is also decapitated is dressed in her skin. Just two sentences and I cannot shake the image from my mind. I think of the girl and hope she is skinned after she is decapitated not before and that the boy is dressed in her skin not before he is decapitated but after. I try to find the reason why a child would be skinned. Why dress that skin over another child’s body? What’s in the skin? The children are drugged, no doubt. But that explanation does not lessen the cruelty I imagine in the act. I go through the scenario over and over and over in my head.

I shudder. I think I am furious.

My wife says, the chiropractor might have been right. Some color is returning to your cheeks and your presence seems more intense. You are kind of here more than you were yesterday, she says. Like you drank some blood. Do you feel any better?

After reading about Toci’s children, I don’t care anymore about my fading. There are worse things than fading. Much worse. It’s not like I am decapitated or skinned or dressed in someone else’s skin.

Except for your shoes, of course. They are made of animal skin, aren’t they?! my wife says, freaking me out even more.

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