Author: Anna Russell / Labels: , ,

Japan is not where I thought it was on a map. Lucien said I would die today and I nearly went without ever knowing the exact location of Japan. It’s closer to Russia than it is to Australia and it’s shaped like a dragon rather than a roundish blob. I love sushi and Murakami, you’d think I’d have known better. I nearly wrote “Here be ninjas” over it, but I don’t have a pen.

I wonder where Japanese people think Scotland is on a map. Maybe they’re smarter than me. Maybe they know. Or maybe they think it’s right next to Germany and write things like “Here be kilts” in Japanese over us.

On the day of my death, these are the things I have: a map of the world and a watch. I’m not thinking about my family as much as one is supposed to in these situations. The ticking watch, on the other hand, is really pissing me off. It’s got diamonds on the face. Fancy. I throw it on the floorboards and it still doesn’t break so I grind into it with my heel. Tick tick tick. Damn it.

I suppose I should think about love. That’s the thing to do. Love you’ve had, love you’ve lost, love you’ll miss. But I went through my whole life not knowing where Japan is. Love has never taken me by surprise; my abominable geography has shocked the proverbial socks off me. Maybe I would have loved a Japanese man. Maybe he would have surprised me. I have not been surprised by myself often enough. My tears are for that fact alone.

If my body was a map of the world, I would know every location. Here, on the Finland of my left thigh, there would be no cause for astonishment. The Canada of my left earlobe would be exactly where I always pictured it. My breasts are as familiar to me as the Italian tongue is to the Sicilians. They have even tasted Italian tongue. It was pleasant, but no real revelation. They responded exactly as I expected them to. The Nicaragua of my big toe was broken once. It’s fine now. That’s what happens when you walk into walls.

My brain is Belgium. Maybe not as the Belgians see it, but it’s Belgium to me. My cerebellum makes nice chocolate and people come to taste it from time to time, but there are other places they’d prefer to visit. Truffles. Praline truffles. I wish it had made a nougat or a fondant. Even a coffee cream, just once. But it makes praline truffles of thoughts that plop onto little silver trays and people sometimes like them, tell their friends good things, then go to brains that are more like Outer Mongolia or someplace that ends in a –stan and taste thoughts that would never even dream of being praline truffles.

The click of the safety being released shatters the air. Lucien wasn’t lying: I will die and it will be now. I grasp at the map, my tears overriding my ability for cohesive speech. I don’t know if he understands what I’m saying. Or if he cares.

But I’m begging to look at the map once more, to find something I didn’t know was there. I’m pleading for a chance to surprise myself just once more before I die. It is my final thought.