There are some aspects of my personality that are like the Silence. I don’t remember they exist as long as I don’t lay eyes on them, but when I see them – shit! They’re just terrifying. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and as a teenager I often found I could exorcise my darker self by writing down whatever she thought, whatever she wanted, whatever she wished for. Once on paper, I was free. My evil twin would be trapped in the pages of my diary and not dwelling in my heart any more. But the downside was that my diaries were really hard to read, the words on there would sting my eyes. It’s good to get rid of the filth that accumulates in your stomach when you’re upset, but then you come across one of those notebooks months, years later, read them and it’s a sucker punch. On balance, it’s probably better seeing your darkness on a blotted piece of paper than it is having it stare back at you from a mirror. So tonight’s lesson is that I probably need to start keeping a diary again.
I’ve written a lot again, even though I still intend to just put the minimum necessary on-line tonight. A lady must have a contingency plan! Part of me is a bit surprised by how much I seem to have to give to this latest project. Unlike any of the previous pieces, the events described aren’t drawn from my life, only the feelings are. When I wrote about Eskarena’s walk, I was just describing a moment from a holiday I’d had a gazillion years ago with a former boyfriend. The fictional direction the story took was what took me by surprise then, I didn’t expect it to become science fiction and as a result, despite being terribly thrilled at the idea of writing something of that type, I was stuck. There were vague notions of what I wanted to do in that world, but it had been so sudden, so unexpected, I got lost. I didn’t actually know anything about it.
When I started writing yesterday, I didn’t have anything clear in mind either. I started making up scenarios from scratch, and somehow ended up dealing with stuff I knew all too well. I feel so familiar with this piece I almost feel I should put one of those disclaimers, you know, all events and people hereby depicted are fictional and any resemblance with actual people yada yada yada. So yes, that.
Day 6 of #NotNaNoWriMo
Deaths & Rebirths – part 2
We had been stuck in traffic for so long that I honestly thought it would have been quicker to just drag the box on foot. But Greta didn’t seem to mind, all she needed was a good song to sing along to and things stopped bothering her. This was her spring ritual. I’m not sure exactly how long it had been going on but it was the fifth time I accompanied her.
I had discovered it by pure chance, actually. My friends and I had gone into the city for a concert, and I decided to crash at Greta’s rather than take the bus home. When I got there I noticed two paper bags on the kitchen table filled with books.
“Are you moving out?”
“No sweetie, I’m just letting go of these,” she said, smiling.
Greta just stared at me for three minutes, her hazel eyes wide as if surprised that I wouldn’t know such an obvious thing. “To get new ones, obviously!”
It didn’t seem that obvious for me, but I was exhausted and could really do with 10 hours of sleep, so that was what I did. The following day I went with her to have a cup of tea in every single café in the village, and every time we stopped she left some books on the tables around us, until she had got rid of every single one of them. Despite being an avid book reader, but she never read them more than once. According to her, we get to live life the one time and that’s what makes it special. If we lived it over and over we wouldn’t treasure it quite as much, and books should be treated in the same way.
“Why do you always wait until the first day of spring?” I had to shout so that she could hear me over the refrain of Rolling in the Deep.
“Oh, you picked up on that, have you?” She grinned, her wide, contagious smile that made people instantly crush on her.
“I’m not just a pretty face, see.”
She laughed at that, and I actually thought it would be the end of it. I didn’t expect her to tell me, as she had a knack for being cryptic and mysterious. Which is why I was positively surprised when she lowered the music.
“Spring‘s all about rebirth, baby. Fresh starts. I’ve read those books and I’ve loved them but I cannot keep them. Did you see how many books I go through in the space of a year? My house is not big enough for me to hoard them, and I just don’t have it in my heart to keep some and let go of the others. I’d rather just let them all free in the world, let other people get something out of them.”
I listened to her while absent-mindedly stroking my bag. My finger ran along the outline of a book I’d sneaked into my bag earlier. I could have told her I was taking it, she wouldn’t have minded. But I didn’t and I had no idea why.
“But why the Village?”
She pulled back a stranded Venetian blond lock and smiled. “Oh, you’ll think it’s bullshit.”
“Well you know how people around here have kind of lost their trust in humanity and all, I mean we are always suspicious about stuff, always looking for some trick, right? Well, I don’t know, gues it’s clichéd but I really think the Village is an exception. If someone finds a book abandoned on a table, they won’t just treat it as if it were something contagious.”
I refrained from saying anything for a while, but then I couldn’t resist delivering it. “Yep, it’s bullshit.”
I sat on my bed, staring at the book in my hands. Greta didn’t have a boyfriend at the moment. As a matter of fact, despite having a flattering number of suitors, she had never been in a long-term relationship. It’s not as if she was unlucky with men or couldn’t make things work. She’d meet someone, in a range of ways that spanned from the most conventional friend of a friend arrangement to bumping into a charming stranger on the ferry to Staten Island – which she must have taken three times in her entire life, at best. True story.
She wasn’t even one that would jump into a relationship in the span of a week. There would be dates, meeting with friends, conversations over countless takeaway dinners and all in all the general impression that they made an adorable couple. Obviously none of us would know what it was really like, on the inside. All I knew, at some point the thing ended. Not badly, or tragically, or shockingly even. Just, where there used to be a boyfriend, there wouldn’t be one any more.
Despite the break-ups never being gruesome, she didn’t stay friends with any of her exes. In the unlikely circumstance of bumping into them by chance she wouldn’t be indifferent or hide, but she never encouraged any of them to stay in her life once the relationship ended. And she’d always be single by Thanksgiving. I wondered if she had ever noticed that, herself.
It wasn’t like I wanted to play psychologist or pry into her private life. But when one came from a family where every woman seemed to have… issues, with men, well, one had to start wondering why that was and what it would mean for their future.
(to be continued)