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  • Sometimes I’m Suzanne
  • Merran Jones (bio)

Sometimes he was one. Sometimes they were two.

She’d been his first words: “Sometimes I’m Suzanne”—plonked into the room like a fat stone in water, between the baby wipes and nappies.

Carly fumbled with her phone, her jaw around her knees.

“Kev? Kev! Matthew just said his first words.”

“WHAT?” Kev yelled over the white noise of the truck, somewhere between Shitsville and Bum-Fuck Nowhere.

“His FIRST WORDS!”

“Yeah what?”

“He said: ‘Sometimes I’m Suzanne’.”

“What? What the fuck’s that mean? Who’s Suzanne?”

“I don’t know.”

Carly frowned at their baby boy. He grinned and pissed into the air.

Sometimes he was one. And would chew his blocks, play with his spaghetti, and tantrum like a boy: a true atheist of discipline.

Other times they were two. And Suzanne would wander through Matthew’s brain, from cerebellum to parietal to occipital lobe, affecting each one accordingly. Matthew would strut like a woman; admire Carly’s perfume—Mmm, jasmine. Such a purple, heady fragrance; or comment on a lady’s dress—It really takes the focus off her face.

One day, Suzanne milled around Matthew’s somatosensory cortex. He kept talking about the softness of Carly’s nightie and the comfort of his sneakers—feels like I’m walking on clouds. Good choice, Carly.

Carly raised an eyebrow at her fourteen-month-old son.

________

“Remarkable.” The specialists all shook their heads.

They ordered scans. The mri ingested then spat Matthew out like a sommelier with wine, testing for potential. [End Page 17]

Suzanne hid below Matthew’s brain stem and smirked at the doctors’ confusion.

“It all looks fine.” They frowned at the images and shook their heads.

“Vroom!” Matthew rammed a toy truck into Carly’s foot.

They referred him to a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, a psychic: any specialist with the prefix ‘psych’. They all peered at Matthew, clipboards in hand, gathering knowledge to themselves like precious nuts for winter.

“A genius,” they said. “His language is so advanced.”

Matthew blushed and gushed: “Well, good looks and brains can go hand in hand.”

“Who is Suzanne?” they asked.

When are you Suzanne?”

“Who are you right now?”

Matthew giggled and threw his ball. Suzanne tucked herself behind his eyes, making him cast coquettish looks at the young intern.

They suggested pro- and anti-biotics, medication, and meditation.

“Meditation?” Carly said. “He’s a baby. He’ll just fall asleep.”

“Actually, meditation is very effective. As is ‘Yoga for Bubs’.”

Carly clutched the boy to her chest.

“He’s accessing a past life. He’s hosting another spirit,” the psychic said.

“No,” Carly said. “He’s just Matthew who sometimes says funny things.” Matthew winked at the psychiatrist.

“I do love that shirt. Really brings out your pecs.”

Carly took him home.

________

Sometimes he was one. Sometimes they were two.

Matthew grew from two to four to six years old. Suzanne remained an ageing, divorced art therapist with a love for scarlet nails. Carly got sick of finding the couch and her son streaked with red like a scene from Carrie, as he sat there admiring his hands.

He’d look up and shrug. “Sometimes I’m Suzanne.”

Carly crouched beside Matthew one day. He fiddled with his Lego, eyes on the task.

“Matthew, look at me.”

“What?” Matthew clicked two pieces together.

“Who is Suzanne?” [End Page 18]

Click click.

“How old is Suzanne?”

Click click. Click.

Carly sighed and stood.

“I’m forty,” Matthew said to her back. “But I’ve been known to pass for twenty-eight.”

“Thanks,” Carly said stiffly.

Forty: just a few years older than herself.

She made the mistake of telling everything to Kev.

“He’s a bloody fruit,” Kev moaned down the phone. He’d been on the road four days and was due home in another four, maybe.

“He’s not always like that though,” Carly said. “Sometimes he’s just Matthew with boogers and dirty knees and video games.”

Sometimes he was one. Sometimes they were two.

Kev wasn’t convinced. He nicknamed his son ‘Softballs’. Want to play some softball, Softballs...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-426X
Print ISSN
0032-6682
Pages
pp. 17-27
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-09
Open Access
No
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