43. Twentyseven Inches

26 August 2022, 19:06

EZRA: How long is my arm, do you think?

ISABEL: Why do you ask?

EZRA: No reason. I’ll tell you; I measured. My right arm is twentyseven inches from the tip of my middle finger to the seam of my t-shirt where the sleeve was sewn to the body. My left arm is the same, so either I am a proportional human, or TJ Maxx lied to me. I am thinking the latter because, after two washes, the green stripes of this shirt bled into the white spaces around them. Another one bites the dust. Another dayshirt becomes a nightshirt. If I asked you to walk in the day with me, would you?

ISABEL: (sarcastically) That remains to be seen.

(Merriam-Webster and the Legal Information Institute, riding crops tight in their armpits, march up and down the lane. Their horses nicker, whicker, and fart.)

MERRIAM-WEBSTER: “At arm’s length” is an idiom that refers to individuals who “act independently and without one having undue influence over another.”

LEGAL INFORMATION INSTITUTE: “‘Arm’s length’ is an expression which is commonly used to refer to transactions in which two or more unrelated and unaffiliated parties agree to do business, acting independently and in their self-interest.”

SHAKESPEARE: (shrewridden) I hate my wife, allegedly.

SOCRATES: (henpecked, misogynistically) My wife, Xanthippe, is much younger than me. She is a yellow horse and an ill-tempered woman.

ARISTOTLE: (allwisest) My lover, Herpyllis, rides me like a horse. I rest on my hands and knees while she places a bit in my mouth, sits on my back, and whips my behind.

PHYLLIS: That’s not my name, brute! And you said you wanted me to ride on your back. This was all because you told Alexander to avoid me and look! how the tables have turned. Even a great philosopher like yourself is no match for a woman’s charms.

GRAVE-DIGGER: (singing) There was a gorgeous governess, known ‘round town for her stubbornness. She met a pretentious poet; he composed a sloppy sonnet, trying to earn her attention with cleverness.

THE CORPSE: (disgusted) If I were not already dead, that rotten limerick would have done me in for sure.

JOHN LYLY: (speaking to Isabel) “Ah wretched wench, canst thou be so lyght of love, as to chaunge with every winde?”

ISABEL: To all you madmen, with your sickly ideas about women, allow me the final word. I keep him at arm’s length because it is my choice to do so. I tolerate him. It is easier for us to be friends than enemies, or worse, nothing at all. He buries his meaning too deep for any reader to discover it. He writes me into and out of existence. He loves me; he does not love me. I will not play his game. Let him lie still, six feet under, for all I care.

Tip to seam