My husband is dead. Will Gibbons is dead. I repeated those sentences over and over in my head. I thought about all I had left behind: a house, my belongings, a career, and a husband. And now, I imagined, that husband was dead. Lying on the floor. Lifeless. Breathless.
I had no plans.
I could start over—start fresh. That was something that always appealed to me my whole life. Maybe it was the artist inside of me, but I loved to create and then destroy. I loved to produce art from start to finish, either sell it or get rid of it—sometimes actually smash it to bits—and then start over with something new, something fresh. A new idea. A new, perfect idea.
I liked the idea of perfect. I wanted everything to be perfect.
I wanted all of my paintings’ brush strokes to head the same direction. I wanted each hanger to face the same direction in the closet. I wanted all the cartons of juice and milk and mayonnaise to face forward. I wanted the bedspread to line up exactly with the bed. I liked perfection.
I needed perfection.
And once something was no longer perfect, I destroyed it and started over.
Most artists thrive in chaos, drawn to imperfections. In fact, most artists see beauty in the world’s imperfections, in human flaw.
I hated flaws. I hated imperfection and asymmetry.
Mostly, I hated trying to mend whatever was no longer perfect. What was the point? Why glue a plate back together when you could revel in blowing it to smithereens and then buy a brand new plate? Why try to wash blood off the bedspread when you could just shred it and buy a new bedspread? Things are cheap in America. Things are easily replaceable. So why even bother saving what’s been lost to imperfection?
In big sky country, where you can view the stars at night, where redwoods shoot to the sky like unearthly creatures, where ocean water crashes against jagged rocks, everything is perfect. Things that are not manmade are always perfect, even when they are dying. I was beginning to see all manmade things as perpetually imperfect: cheaply made, easily broken, ugly, rotting, dying, chipping, peeling, leaning, needing to be constantly maintained. Everything in nature maintained itself. When a redwood tree fell, it created a bridge over water, a shelter for an animal. When water and wind scraped against red rock, it carved designs the most talented artist could never create. Nature maintained itself—it cleaned up its messes. In death, in overgrowth, during storms, it was always beautiful, always perfect. Nature would never be obsolete; it could never be replaced.
As the hot pink sun reflected off of the rear view mirror in a neon blast, I was forced to only look straight ahead toward the black asphalt, the dusty rear of a semi-truck, which was painted with the Kellogg brand’s logo. A big, red K almost throbbed as it reflected the sun.
I wondered what it was like to have changed the world. The corporations, the massive conglomerates, the inventors, the presidents, military leaders, celebrities, athletes—all the people who could never be invisible. Most people feared invisibility. Most people wanted to be seen.
Not me. While I wanted to control everything around me, I mostly just wanted to make it disappear. I mostly wanted to disappear. I wanted to be able to leave anything as soon as it disappointed me; I wanted to be able to leave anyone who I had disappointed. I couldn’t deal with failure. I couldn’t deal with mistakes. I couldn’t deal with imperfection. I had to go.
So that’s why I killed him.
And that’s why I had to drive into that blazing inferno.