by Jay Merill
Standing next to a window can be a grim brim experience. I don’t like it. In fact, it’s more than don’t. It’s can’t stand. And this is an apposite way of putting things because there’s a vivid realism hooked onto these words. Strange, how they came into my head without premeditation. It’s like, the closer I get to the glass the more I feel my knees shaking and my toes going tingly. Looking down now, I notice the beginning of a tremor in my right hand. This is related to a memory: Once, I was right up against the window in the kitchen because I was trying to thread a needle and kept missing the eye. I was so close I could feel the glass against the knuckle of my little finger as I went on trying, again and again. There was this terrible sharpness to everything. And I keeled over.
This was winter so I was safe. As the window was shut I couldn’t fall very far. Just to the floor of the kitchen. But still I could visualize what would have happened otherwise. Because the apartment where I live is on the 3rd floor and so the kitchen window is on the 3rd floor too. Which is a long way up, if you look down. I wouldn’t want to fall from the 3rd floor to the ground. Nobody would, would they. So, as you’ll understand from what I’m saying, the summer is another story. Even thinking about trying to thread a needle next to an open summer window is stressful. It makes me want to have a drink as this is a pleasant way to get calm.
After the one you’ll be relatively calm but there is a trace of the uncalm you felt before you poured it out. Which is to say, when you could still stand quite straight, because at that time you had not been on the brink, (which funnily, rhymes with drink). And so you could see the window very clearly. Prior to opening a bottle there are likely to be certain acute awarenesses. I think, at this clear-headed time, of how dangerous it might be to reel and jump near an open window. Whereas, when I’m pissed it doesn’t trouble me. So in the abstract, I’d say it is safer to swig in winter because the window will not be open. It’s for this reason that my happiest days are winter ones. And even if you haven’t yet downed the first glass you don’t have to be as uncalmly worried as you would in summer because you know when you’ve had a few you won’t be falling out.
A bit later on, if you don’t stop with the one glass and have another and yet another and so find yourself getting to the level of drunkenness you probably won’t seem calm in the least. Your body may be reeling and you might be jumping about by then, and maybe shouting. Still, in a way you will be, because of feeling happy with things. You aren’t fazed by the reeling even when it gets to the point of jumping and you are also happy with the shouting. If you should happen to notice you’re doing it, which you may not of course, because your mind will be befuddled.
When I think of sharpness I picture the word rim. Rim is how I describe the narrow surround of the kitchen window. At this point the room has come noticeably to an end and through the glass you can see the space beyond. As I’m a lifelong asthmatic the sight of the outdoors may bring on wheezing. Especially if it’s a bit windy or rainy. Rim is like grim, only without the g. The grim rim reminds me of what lies beyond and I feel I hate it and want to spit at it as a warning to get off my back. Not that the rim is on my back but, you know. The unreal can be vivid too and on occasions nicely so. As when I’m drunkenly swaying round the kitchen space. At last I sway so woozily I don’t even see the abrasive edges anymore.
I just want to add that if you pronounce a g softly, as in the words genesis and geniality and generosity it can feel like savoring a blob of cream-cheese, which I’ve always had a fondness for especially if it’s goat’s not cow’s as that is supposed to be better for an asthmatic as it’s less dairy, or something. However, I’m aware that when saying grim you have to say the g the hard way because that is the sound which works when followed by the r, and trying to say it the other way would have your tongue doing awkward semi-somersaults and wouldn’t be a good experience. In the case of b, there’s only the hard way of saying it otherwise it would be a p. (Which, oddly, doesn’t sound that soft either when part of a word). I’m not saying grim, brim and rim don’t belong together in terms of the feelings they elicit, just that you don’t need the g or the b because rim is cuttingly nasty on its own.
Now I must confess there’s a part of me which wants to see things as they are rather than perpetuate the cosy delusion that there are no sharp peripheries and no endings in sight. I love having a few drinks though so this is a bit of a paradox. But there you go, things don’t necessarily end up tidily, do they. What I’d recommend is, instead of sticking with rim it could be preferable to use the word sill. Although sill is limited as it only refers to the ledge of the window rather than the whole surround it’s more flexible in that it can comfortably lead the mind to still or spill according to mood.
Jay Merill lives in London UK. Her short-story collections published by Salt, are: ‘Astral Bodies’ and ‘God of the Pigeons’. She has prose forthcoming in Del Sol Review, Hobart, Psychopomp and The London Magazine. Further work has appeared in Entropy, Eunoia Review, Gravel, Occulum, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf and other greats.