Angela Palm


/ The student recalls or recognizes information

I have a car, but which one? What year is it? It's winter again, but when? I look up, and I have just walked out of a Walgreens. Okay. Right. The gray car, a Honda Fit. Economical, gets good mileage. It is 2015. I'm alone. It is nearly always this way now.



/The student changes information into a different symbolic form/language

We are laughing at a joke my brother told us when I freeze, her face unrecognizable. The Picasso nose. The Walter Keane eyes. Chiclet teeth. She and him. Familiar and not. "Who are you people? And what am I doing here?" I ask. For eight seconds, I forget that we are together in my living room, smoking pot. I can't recall their names. It is Christmas night. There are hardly any presents and that is funny, too. I have two kids and they are sleeping upstairs and when did that happen. We are adults in our thirties and none of us have love lives per se for our whatever reasons, even though we are decently attractive people. I laugh tears down my cheeks like a busted doll, sawing the well-oiled hinge of my smile. Something about a flannel g-string and wouldn't that be funny and unsexy but also a little cozy, you have to admit. Hiccupping, I try to re-enter the joke but it is useless. She tells me later that she would fuck my brother and I say go ahead. She tells me later that she thinks she's in love with me and I say nothing.



/The student solves a problem by using the knowledge and appropriate generalizations

It begins subtly enough, like everything that will eventually go wrong and then end completely. We start a business together without thinking very far ahead. "Ninety percent of partnerships fail," the small business counselor tells us, and we laugh. But right away, she overspends on an event breakfast. Not just bagels and orange juice like we said, but also fruit and muffins and quiches and what if someone wants yogurt so there is also yogurt. And granola. And what about raw nuts. So there are those. "Don't get worked up about it," she says when I mention that the breakfast is four hundred percent over budget. The money my father gave me. The kind of money I swore I'd never ask for, but did, for her. For us. After dinner, she offers me an Atavan like it's candy, popping one into her own mouth. "It'll help," she says. And I assume she means with blurring math. "You need one," she says. And I assume she means for letting go.



/The student separates information into component parts

Keep business and friendships separate, everyone says. But when she is lost and heartbroken, she moves in. I give her a key without caring how long she stays. For a while, we co-opt my children. She plays with them while I make dinner. She does the dishes while I sing them to sleep. We find an easy rhythm, synthesizing our skills. I set egg sandwiches or salads or shrimp in front of her when it is time to eat. She picks up flowers for the dining room table. We sit with our laptops at night, amid bottles of red wine. We build fires in the fireplace that burn out too fast. Sometimes we sing and we think we sound good. Mostly it is just the two of us and the children. When my husband is home, he seems to enjoy this expansion. Something is interesting again, and it is not me, on the sofa with my notebook and the ideas that bore him, writing myself out of the picture. Or maybe it is me, made more interesting by her. We could go on forever like this, maybe. We all joke about it, then consider it in earnest.



/ The student solves a problem by putting information together that requires original, creative thinking

But the next Christmas, she lives on her own again, or back with the boyfriend, I don't remember which. I spend hours sewing a pair of flannel mittens from selvage scraps for her. I love the mittens and I love her. There is something missing, I think, right up until the moment I wrap the gift in crepe paper. I love the mittens and I love her so much that I don't realize until it's too late that I have only made one. There is no pair. Just the left, or the right, depending on how you turn it. I decide to give it to her anyway, thinking how it will be become a running joke. That year I made the one mitten. And maybe later I finish the other and won't that be sweet, but no.
     One night, I step out of the bar and hear her whisper to another woman, "I think I'm in love with you," and I just keep walking.
     Another year later, when it is already over and there is no her, I'm still flush with embarrassment. How I only made the one mitten. All my attention on threading the machine and stitching straight and not the naked hand. Not the cold. I lie awake some nights wondering how many days or weeks or months it takes her to throw the mitten away. Or if she ever does. And what does she give me? Another half: a single deer antler mounted on driftwood. I hold it up near my skull, unsure whether it's a left or right antler. I hang it on the wall above the fireplace and it stays there, even after she doesn't.




This piece is one of a series of brief five-section essays that each use the same loose interpretation of Bloom's Taxonomy, a scientific testing rubric, to work through complicated emotional terrain within a small space.