My writing and other perversions
Monday, October 24, 2005
She was in a prison behind her eyes. Every day she walked and hoped that someone would notice when she stumbled. Her heart begged for anyone to do more than wish her good morning or hello.
She fervently believed in love at first sight, so much that when she fell in love with a man upon meeting him, she let him tear her open and leave her bleeding on the ground. And she went back for more.
She would wish on falling stars, and make dandelion dreams whenever she had a chance. She would take 2 minutes before a birthday cake to make a picture in her head of what she desired would happen when she blew out the candles. She kept her fallen eyelashes so that she could blow them from her fingertips when times were rough and she needed a bit of hope.
She dreamed of men that she met, every day, casually passing by. The ones that smiled and the ones that scowled. She knew that one of them was her true love, but she didn't know how to tell him apart from the ones that weren't. She knew he would come to her, though. It would happen because it had to happen.
She almost burst with ideas every day, paintings that she drew upon steamed mirrors in the bathroom, snippets of stories that she wrote on the backs of reciepts, sonnets that grew to crescendos in her head only to find out that the mirror dried, the reciepts lost, and the sonnets lost the beginning by the time she got to the end.
She felt full to bursting. She felt like she could tread the world, but she dreaded taking that first step alone. She needed a sidekick, a partner or a friend.
Oh, she had friends, people who spurred her, prodded her, poked her when she needed it, but she didn't have that one special friend who would look into her heart and know what she needed. That other, opposite and same.
She burned with embarassment when she saw people gaze at each other with pure love in their eyes. She once spent a whole movie watching two people in front of her kiss, wishing that she was one or both of them. She looked at every holiday as another chance to meet her special one, then stayed at home.
And that's what she hated. Every time she was at home, she cursed herself as that being the moment that she missed her true love. When she slept at night, she knew he had passed by the door to her apartment, and she'd just let them go by.
Oh, she'd tried the clubs. She'd gone out with the girls and seen the glittery boys, shining under the flashy lights, all teeth and eyeballs roving her body. She'd seen the interest or the casual dismissal. None of them would care what her favorite book was. None of them would ask her if she liked milk with her tea.
She'd been to the church, but those boys had their eyes on one goal and she could not compete with that. It hurt to be with a beautiful one who had such love that he wouldn't share with anyone but the one on the cross.
She'd attempted the computer dating, with the sly, slimy boys. They all seemed like they were trying to sell her their cars or their watches. They wanted to hypnotize her, that was obvious. They didn't see past her eyes, they didn't have the key that unlocked the door in her mind. They didn't have what she needed.
She'd glanced about her at work, the boys that shuffled and filed. The ones that giggled and then stopped when she looked at her. They were all sad, sycophantic, begging for attention from anyone, but not from her. No, never from her. Her they ignored, or sometimes playfully flirted with. If they wanted something. That was all they knew, to use charm to get what they wanted. That wasn't for her. She saw through them and their petty ways.
Her mother had tried to set her up with boys, they all seemed eager to please, moist and unsure. Too shy, too undemanding, willing to bend. She'd had enough of them after too long. They were wet ones, damp like a used diaper.
Lately, she'd been feeling odd. Off. Out of sorts. Unsettled. She felt like she was becoming disconnected. The lack of attention was making her feel invisible. Not that she lacked attention, but the right kind of attention. Sunshine versus heat lamp.
She was wilting, she knew it. She could feel it. Her skin was always dry, her hair felt brittle. She had trouble catching her breath. She thought she might have a disease, when she woke up with huge bags under her eyes and no one noticed. She thought she might be catching something, diseased from some exotic rare thing that was uncurable.
She made up a fantasy in her head where she had her last days, and people clustered about her, praying for her, sobbing over her. And one handsome doctor who had a cure, but it might be worse than the disease. In her dream, it would leave her permanently crippled but alive. But he would care for her nonetheless. He would be there for her, if she needed him.
Then she realized that her doctor was already handsome, and he barely asked her about the weather when she saw him.
She spent the day staring at her nails, wondering if the spots in them meant that she was experiencing the last stages. The people at work milled about her, dropping things off or picking them up, barely glancing or recognizing her illness.
She tried dressing the part, wearing black for days on end. No one noticed that she was garmented for her own funeral. Not a word was spoken about her black painted nails, bunned up hair and black spectacles.
So she started listening to the most droning, dark music that she could. They were allowed to put in cds on their computers, and she took it to extremes, playing dirges and cacophonies. From Moussorgsky to Marilyn Manson. From Tchaikovsky to Kronos Quartet, the music was resoundly neglected. All that happened was everyone avoided her, instead of just a few.
Then he came back.
Her only, to be honest.
He was in a band. She met him through a friend, and he savaged her heart with wolflike skill. She loved him from the moment she saw him, the way he carried himself like the world owed him a favor but spoke as if he wanted to pay one back to you. She could see his duality and felt it in herself. He was proud and hurt and she loved him for it.
He wore ugly clothes and sang ugly music that hurt her ears, even as her heart drank it up. He put on makeup and had more jewelry than she did. His hair was never styled, combed or washed. He always smelled like the cigarettes at the bottom of an empty glass of beer. And sweat.
When he talked to her, away from the others, his eyes reflected hers, his voice was so soft and sweet. He touched her arm and she felt it in her ribs. He slid a hand across her back and she felt it all over.
He cried when he was with her. It made him angry to do so, and that made him better for it. When he raged and broke her vase that her mother made for her, she forgave him. As he screamed at her she closed her ears to it and remembered what he'd whispered to her earlier, before the screaming, and the sobbing faded.
He'd been shattered, and he was only trying to put it all back together. But it was hard, because pieces were everywhere and he couldn't find them all. She understood.
He wrote songs about her pain, things she told him in confidence, secrets passed in the darkness above their bed. He sang in loud voices about her fears, he made them into poems and dedicated them to her. She loved the jealous looks from the other women in the crowd as much as she hated him telling how much she feared germs, or all her hair falling out, or that dream where you pull your teeth out and there just seem to be so many teeth and they never stop coming and you keep pulling but your mouth, bleeding and sore keeps producing them.
She'd read enough to know that you cannot change what will not be changed, be that fires, foot length or fellows. She knew that she wouldn't make him into something new, but she wanted to have what he could give her for as long as she could. She knew that he would hurt her. But she went anyway.
He would sit up for hours, playing his guitar while she dozed next to him, tuning and re-tuning, never happy. She would call him and know that he had just turned off his phone, but knowing that he was all right because he'd turned it off. He only answered her when he was angry.
She would cook him grand meals that would grow cold and old in the night as he played for hours after his set was over. He would come home drunk and full of regret, but he would come home. That was important.
She helped heal him, finding the scattered pieces. Gluing them with love and pasting them. Sometimes it was rejected, too old, or ignored, too fresh, but it happened. And he began to live. He took deep breaths instead of his shallow angry ones. He slept instead of picking at the strings all night. He stopped screaming his songs and started wispering, like he did with her at night.
And then he left. He didn't say a word. He didn't even take his guitar. She'd come home and there was nothing. But a new nothing. Or maybe the old nothing again. The one that was there before. The emptiness where two bodies were. The dryness from lack of breath. She knew he hadn't been there. And by the next morning, she knew he wasn't coming back.
She checked the band's website, but it was the same old page filled with lies and bravado. Then it too, was gone. She checked the paper, looking for his name. She googled him obsessively, for months on end. He was gone, like he never existed. But she knew he had.
Though there were times she thought she made him up. In the shadows thrown up by the clock radio on her nightstand, she wondered if she created him, bought all the things that she had, the guitar, the ratty, stinky clothes, the cigarette butts. When she went back to the club where he played, everything was different. They didn't play that kind of music and she didn't recognize anyone, not that she knew them anyway.
The old hurt was back. She drew it across her like a blanket it, settled in it, waiting for it to disappear again, if it ever would. She felt the hollowness inside, the emptiness and the feeling of being carved out.
She'd cried so much. It felt like she cried all the blood from her body. And then she stopped.
He showed up at her work. At first, she thought she was seeing things. It was... phantomic? That's not a word. Ghostly? Not real enough. Spectral.
He was just standing there, in the middle of her busy office, people walking around him or narrowing their eyes. They wondered if he was a new boss, same as the old boss, or a new employee. He was in a suit. He was clean. And warm. He looked warm. He'd always looked cold when she'd known him.
She recognized him instantly, even shaven and sparkling. He didn't walk like he used to. He advanced, like he had purpose. His legs strode now. She wasn't sure she liked striding. It reminded her of her boss.
It shocked her that there might be something about him that she didn't like.
"Can you leave?" He asked. This was not a whisper. Nor was it a request. It was more of a demand. He'd never demanded. He was too used to them being ignored back then.
"I think so." She was not playing hard to get. She wsn't sure she wanted to go.
In her mind, he'd joined a cult. He had come back to get her as a likely candidate to be the new mother goddess. To give birth to the new race. She was to be worshipped and kept as a breeder. All the men had their turn, and none of them knew who would breed true. But they needed her to strengthen the strain.
"Good. Meet me at.. Luigis." He turned and strode out again. That was like him. Except for that pause. He always knew where he was going.
She puttered around her desk. She felt the love stirring, yawning and stretching. She felt the blanket slide off, and
She felt fear.
But she was going anyway.
So she got up, punched out and left. She told no one, but she watched as they whispered behind their hands and turned to watch her leave. She stumbled, as she always did when she was being watched, her heel turning and her ankle twisting, but she kept moving. She walked through it.
She got to Luigis in moments. It was their place, the only place he'd eat out. A badly lit hole in the wall with mediocre food. He liked the ambiance, where he could crouch and eat and mumble. He ate like a refugee, and in this setting, so did everyone else.
He was there, at a booth.
She slid in across from him. They used to sit on one side, because he knew it annoyed people.
"How are you?" She knew before asking that he'd tell her he'd changed. That he had found God (who was never lost) or that he had one week to live and he had to find her and apologize or that he was actually his own twin and the man she loved was gone, dead.
"I'm okay. I'm better than I was. I'm sorry I left." He let her chew on that. She knew he was waiting for her to ask him why. She wouldnt' give him the satisfaction.
"Why?" She cursed herself, it was her feminine curiousity or her need to be in pain. She wouldn't like the answer and it would never satisfy her anyway.
"Why am I sorry? You were the best thing that ever happened to me. Why am I better? Because you helped put me back together. Why did I leave? The band thought I was losing my edge. They told me you were changing me and that I was becoming a whipped dog, peeing in corners because I was too afraid to make it outside." He said this as if it were something he wrote in his head but never practiced in a mirror. Or vice versa.
"But you still left. That's what matters." She could feel his heat across the table. She used to feel his cold. It made her feel ill. He smelled like aftershave and some expensive cologne that was actually cheap. His fingers were no longer stained from cigarettes. His breath was minty fresh.
"But I'm not who left. I traveled with the band but I was no longer in it the moment I met you. I was a stand in. They replaced me on the road with someone who sang two octaves higher and growled two octaves lower. I worked my way back to you, from California to Michigan. I love you. I never told you when we were together because I didn't want you becoming attached. And I became attached. " He almost said this in one breath. He paused before the second attached. He didn't used to have to pause.
"Right. And I wasn't there to see this change. So to me, you're a diffferent person who became one when I wasn't around. You're the shadow of you, or maybe that was the shadow of you and now you're you, but I didn't watch that." It made sense to her.
"I thought you'd be happy." He almost. Almost. Sounded like he used to. He came close to his whisper, and she felt a part of herself, her inner self, reach out to him. This was what she wanted. Him. Not this Him suit.
"I would have been happy if you'd never left. I would have been happy if you'd changed with me, instead of because of me. I would have been happy if you had become this with me at your side. I would have been happy if I could have held your hand while you quit smoking, or kissed your lips when you quit drinking. I would have made sure you had a suit that fit your shoulders and an aftershave that didn't burn my nose. I would have shaved that spot you always miss on your neck when you went for your job interview or laughed at you when you tried to tie a tie. Now it feels as if a baby was taken from me and raised by another mother." Now her inner self had pulled back and crossed its arms. That last line was very wounding, since that's what happened to him as a child. She was trying to draw blood.
"I'm sorry. I tried. I thought things could go back the way they were, before, but they weren't that great before, either. I met you when I was screwed up and you were screwed right and you unscrewed me. And then I left because i couldn't stand to be unscrewed." Here he was. He was getting there.
"But you left. Don't you see? You left. You walked away. You went with them. You didn't have to. You chose to. You wanted to. You probably enjoyed it, until you woke up and realized that you didn't have me there to enjoy it with you. You can't come back to me after the fact and hope that I can replace that missing time. " Oh yeah. She was on a roll.
"I left you my guitar." And yeah, that did make a difference.
"Oh, that helped heal my wounds. I pawned that for 20.00." She hadn't. That sickness she'd felt earlier. It was gone. It was burned up in the fire that sprang up in her stomach.
"You pawned it? I loved that guitar. My mother gave it to me. This was a bad idea. I'm sorry." And he cried again. His old tears. Not new tears. The same tears that got her before, his face squeezed together and red. Florid. Like he was trying to cry all the blood from his body.
If she reached across the table, all bets were off. They'd end up in bed together, and then married. Or the cult would come out of the woodwork, bundle her up to kidnap her. Only the cook would come out and save her, turning out to be some ex-marine kung-fu specialist who needed to take his anger out on cult members.
She closed her eyes.
If she opened them and he was still there crying, silently, (he said he always cried quietly so that he wouldn't be punished for it), she would touch him. If he had gotten up and walked away, well, that was that. Tit for tat.
The world swirled behind them. She saw fireworks and aomebas. She saw the distinct shape of the candle that was on the table. She saw her hands sitting on the table, in front of her, fingers bent, thumbs touching, like she was sitting at a keyboard even at rest. She saw her empty apartment, he had brought so much there, cds, books, comic books, video games, everything she owned was his, it seemed, since it piled and spilled. She saw his torn posters and his love letters from ex-girlfriends that he refused to throw away. She saw his pictures of his family, before and after.
She saw the lost, lonely boy who she'd fallen in love with and the man that had fallen in love with her. She saw the horrible suit and the ugly tie, in contrast to the torn shirts and ripped jeans.
She saw his eyes, distant and indistinct, then sharpened by his tears, magnifying the depths. That's what they did.
They magnified his depths. Without his tears, he was just another guy. With them, he was hers.
She saw the prison she was in. The door, slammed shut. She saw herself put her arm through the bars.
She pulled, with her other hand, on the bars, pushed, slammed against them. She saw them bow. They bent. They broke, shattering and scattering. She saw herself walk past where they used to be, marveling at their weakness.
She opened her eyes.