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The Red Bull by Miriam Verburg

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  • I had a dream about a red bull when I fell in love with Mike. The bull came in through massive oak doors, and stalked towards me. Smoke pouring off his sides.

    I woke up full of confusion, a giant implantation in my heart. An embolism of blood where there was already blood. I felt exposed in my own bed.

    I had dated women for about 5 years when I met Mike. He arrived at my work and got off his bicycle sweaty & disheveled. I watched as he energetically pulled off his sweater, his torso was a ledge I fell over.

    My mom died in 2004. About 4 months after she died, Mike broke up with me.

    A few months after we broke up, I made this painting of my dream. While I was painting I was content. At all other times, I was in despair. Unfortunately the painting was done before the despair had ended, but it helped me remember what other things I could do besides grieve.

    The source image is from the newspaper. It's a picture of one of the bulls from Pamplona running into a canal. Hanging on the side of the canal for dear life is a soaking girl, her chemise plastered to her shoulders.

    The bull is jumping right over her.

    On Christmas day, my friend Nadine's mother died in a car accident. Nadine was in the car too, and says she turned her head and watched her mother's last exhalation.

    When I got to the hospital and they disconnected my mother from life support, I also got to watch the life exit her body. I can't describe what it's like, but it can't be erased either. I will see it in my minds eye forever, and never share it.

    Once she was dead she looked like a potato, she looked like a wig, she looked like a woman who raised me, she looked like a dead person. She looked like someone I wanted to physically shove breath back into. I would have forced it down her lungs.

    I went over to Nadine's to make dinner and watch a movie. Of the 5 movies I brought to her house, one was a copy of The Last Unicorn. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid, and I thought an animated feature might be the right kind of movie for a woman with no mom and 2 broken ribs.

    That was when I met the red bull.

    I'm reading the book now, and I still don't quite know what he means, but the Red Bull has been on my mind for a long time. Long before Mike.

    I guess this means I think I am a unicorn, which is a surprise to no-one.

    That is a picture of my friend Ned's daughter and I. She thinks that a smile is opening your mouth as wide as it will go. I love her way of smiling, I love her. I want to keep her away from Red Bulls for the rest of her life, but I think that may be impossible.

    The book, by the way, is also called The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle and it is amazing.
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