“We’ve been trying to fall in love, yes, with each other, but we’ve been trying to take the danger out of it. So no one ends up maimed, or dead, We’re trying for something normal and nice.” – Mr. Fox
He explains our relationship to me this way, as if I have been absent from its beginning. As if I were a part of him, a part of these thoughts and aspirations. As if I subscribe to the notion that we are both trying to fall in love the same way, as if we are both trying to fall in love at all.
I hold back my urge to scream. I play his game and continue his story.
I hold back, because I am not trying to fall in love. I am trying to live, but my life, my voice, my thoughts rely on the narrative. Without this man writing me into the world, do I exist?
Mr. Fox describes the romance as cautious in nature, “so no one ends up maimed, or dead.” I wonder, can I be dead if I have never lived? I am not capable of dying, it seems, everytime Mr. Fox kills me in his stories, traps me with words, suffocates me in prose.
It seems that the Mary in the “we” Mr. Fox describes is a Mary he holds in his head. The same Mary who “has no sense of humor” (pg 5) and “shouldn’t have anything to do with bottled fragrances.” (pg 272) It is in these moments, more than any other that I wonder how much I can resist how I am written. I assure Mr. Fox that I do not, in fact, have a sense of humor. I do this to not end up “maimed or dead” yet I know it is not true. I am funny. I find things to be funny. I enjoy comedy. I want to be covered in bottle fragrances. I want to be a woman who buys this fragrance for herself.
Mr. Fox, however, is the dictator of my story. There is no way for me to break out of his words on my own. I need him, begrudgingly, to continue to write me into the world, so that one day I can hope to be in it alone. Until then I exist as a girl without humor, without fragrance, and without a real voice.
- Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi,2011